Historically, the median net worth of non-Hispanic White families has been 10 times the median net worth of Black families in the United States. That racial gap appears to be increasing.
Components of family wealth, such as stocks, bonds, money in the bank, and real estate, produce interest, dividends, or rental income which are commonly used to offset or pay college costs. Wealth also includes the value of a family’s home. This important asset can be sold or borrowed against to provide funds for college expenses. Households that have lower levels of wealth often must borrow money in order to send their children to college.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released new data on household wealth in 2019. The statistics show that the median net worth of non-Hispanic White households was $187,300 in 2019. For Black households, the median net worth was $14,100. Thus, the median net worth of White households was more than 13 times the median net worth of Black households. Four years earlier in 2015, non-Hispanic White households’ net worth was less than 11 times that of Black households.
If we exclude home equity, the median net worth of non-Hispanic White households in 2019 was $79,010. For Blacks, the median net worth – excluding home equity – was $3,630. Thus, Whites had nearly 22 times as much wealth as Blacks when we exclude the value of homes. In 2015, White held 12 times the wealth of Blacks in net worth when home equity was excluded.
So the racial wealth gap is not only huge, but growing at a rapid rate. And remember, too, that this data is pre-pandemic. The current racial wealth gap may be even greater now.