Vast Racial Differences in the Financing of Doctoral Education

Data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates from the National Science Foundation shows racial differences in financial support for students who earn doctoral degrees. For instance, 29.4 percent of Whites who earned doctorates in 2021 had served as research assistants. Only 13.2 percent of African American doctoral recipients served as research assistants. Some 21 percent of Whites had teaching assistantships while pursuing doctoral studies compared to 10.6 percent of Blacks.

About one out of every five Whites who earned a doctorate paid for their degrees primarily from their own funds or savings. For African Americans who earned doctorates in 2020, 44.3 percent used their own funds or savings as the primary source for paying for their education.

Only 19.4 percent of all African Americans who earned doctorates in 2021 had no education-related debt when they earned their terminal degree. For Whites, 51.7 percent had no education-related debt. The median education debt for Whites was $45,000. African Americans who earned doctorates in 2021, had an average student debt of $110,000.

A total of 550 of the 2,304, African Americans who earned doctorates in 2021, or 23.9 percent, had student debt of more than $160,000. For Whites, only 4.7 percent of all doctoral recipients had student debt exceeding $160,000.

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  1. Hello thank you for this report. I am hoping this is sent to all State Education Commissioners to hold State Colleges and Universities accountable for lessening the gap and demanding a plan be in place for remediation of this. Indeed, free international scholarship for studies should have an equal, if not less than distributions granted to foreign students. I am curious, how the recommendation process is a factor in this decision making process. Who has the power to approve access and it is by recommendation. Perhpas that table should be broaden on campuses for a wider and more inclusive body than the current decision makers.
    Spread the news!!!
    Ursula McGee
    Educator – NJ K-12

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