How the Pandemic Made the Student Loan Debt Crisis Even More Difficult for Black Women

A new report from the Center for Responsible Lending examines how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the already significant student debt crisis for Black women.

Women are holders of about two-thirds of the $1.7 trillion federal student debt. Black women are twice as likely to owe more than $50,000 in undergraduate student debt compared to White men. The report notes that “while a typical White male borrower pays off almost half of his balance within 12 years of starting college, the balance of a typical Black female borrower grows by 13 percent.”

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the financially unstable positions of many women, furthering gender disparities. The Center for Responsible Lending commissioned four focus groups with women who voluntarily or involuntarily left the workforce during the pandemic and conducted descriptive analysis on publicly available datasets. The research sought to analyze how women’s finances have changed over the course of the past two years and what implications these changes have had on women’s long-term financial well-being and their ability to repay outstanding education debt.

Overall, the findings indicate the widespread disruption in employment due to the pandemic has had a profound impact on women, their families, and their finances. Despite demonstrating immense resiliency, the worst outcomes have disproportionately harmed women of color.

Among the finding are:

  • Due to increased childcare responsibilities, as well as the high-contact, low-wage nature of many women’s occupations, women of color and women in jobs who could not go remote have less job security today than pre-pandemic.
  • The economic gains made through 2021 were not shared equally across racial groups. Women of color continue to experience financial hardship paying for necessities.
  • Student loan debt burdens remain at staggering levels, despite the payment pause. Black women borrowers typically have higher student loan balances than White women, making repayment more difficult.

The full report, Resilient But Deeper in Student Debt: Women of Color Faced Greater Hardships Through COVID-19, may be downloaded here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Three African Americans Appointed to New Academic Positions

Leon Prieto, Kofi Afrifah, and Andrea Moore have been appointed to new academic positions at Clayton University, Bowie State University, and Savannah State University, respectively.

Historic HBCU Landmark Revitalized Through National Park Service Grant

Through three restoration grants totaling $2 million, the Rosenwald Practice School and Principal House will be fully restored, becoming the new home for the Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute.

Five Black Leaders Appointed to Administrative Positions

Here is this week’s roundup of African American who have been appointed to new administrative positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

North Carolina A&T University Establishes Research Partnership with Collins Aerospace

“There are direct relations to the research we do in the College of Engineering and the mission purpose of Collins Aerospace,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, interim dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. “Being able to partner with Collins really gives our students the opportunities for hands-on research at each level – undergraduate and graduate.”

Featured Jobs