June 18, 2019
By Victoria Yuen
Center for American Progress
In fall 2017, the U.S. Department of Education released shocking findings about the long-term outcomes of student borrowers of color, particularly those who are black or African American. The data showed that the average black or African American borrower who entered college in the 2003-04 academic year had made no progress paying down their debt by 2015; in fact, they owed more than they originally borrowed. Even worse, nearly half of black or African American student borrowers had defaulted on their loans within the 12-year time period. These findings revealed a repayment crisis for black borrowers and raised serious questions about how the American higher education system serves all communities of color.
But the data have not yet led to any major plans in Congress to improve the outcomes of student borrowers of color. Just last month, for example, front-page headlines trumpeted a wealthy financier’s pledge to pay the student loan debt of an entire graduating class at historically black Morehouse College, demonstrating anew how much student debt is still weighing down African American borrowers—and why these students need systemic solutions.
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