African Americans and the Mountain of Graduate Student Loan Debt

The issue of student debt has become a major issue in the 2020 presidential election. But one part of the crisis that gets little attention is the mountain of debt taken on by graduate students. A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that graduate students are taking on $37 billion in debt each year. Graduate programs enroll 15 percent of all students in higher education, yet they account for 40 percent of federal student loans issued each year.

Nearly 80 percent of Black students completing their graduate degrees in the 2015-16 academic year had accumulated federal debt for their graduate education and the median amount of this debt was more than $51,000. In addition, almost 90 percent of Black or African American students who took on federal loans for graduate school and finished in the 2015-16 academic year still had debt from undergraduate studies. The median federal undergraduate debt for graduate students taking out loans was $27,000.

The report states that “the sustained rise in graduate debt also has substantial equity implications, particularly for Black students. Black students are more likely to borrow in graduate school and have more undergraduate debt than their White peers. As a result, the median debt for a Black student borrower finishing graduate school is 50 percent higher than that of a White borrower.”

The crisis has become so bad that many borrowers with large debt balances have interest charges that are larger than the payments they are making. Thus, the balances they owe continue to rise.

The report also notes that 80 percent of Black students enrolled in research doctoral programs are taking on federal loan debt compared to only 56 percent of White students in these doctoral programs. One reason for this discrepancy is the fact that 44 percent of White students in these programs receive fellowships or teaching assistant positions compared to only 22 percent of Black students enrolled in these doctoral programs.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Duke University Finds the Racial Wealth Gap Between Black and White Americans is Growing

From 2019 to 2022, the average net work gap between Black and White Americans grew by 38 percent. The study authors believe this increasing wealth gap can be attributed to the country's history with racism and inequities in intergenerational wealth.

James Martin II Named Chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University

Dr. Martin brings decades of experiences in engineering research and academic leadership to his new role. He has been serving as the vice chancellor for STEM research and innovation at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nurses in Black-Serving Hospitals Experienced Increased Levels of “Moral Distress” During the Pandemic

Moral distress is defined as a feeling of being prevented from making a morally-ethical action, which contributes to mental health challenges. Nurses under moral distress are more likely to experience burnout and quit their jobs.

Edward Louis Hill Jr. Is the New Leader of Talladega College in Alabama

Dr. Hill has extensive experience in K-12 and higher education, holding both academic and administrative positions. Prior to his new interim appointment, he served the college as associate provost and dean of life long and professional development.

Featured Jobs