There’s a long-held belief in the Black community that receiving higher education will help get you out of hardship and make a better life for yourself. While there is some truth to this belief, the choice of higher education comes when a potentially debilitating trade-off: student loan debt.
White households already hold ten times more wealth than Black families, and increasing student debt only furthers the Black-White wealth gap. So while white college graduates have the resources and means to tackle their student debt or have none at all, Black graduates are left to fend for themselves.
The amount of money that students take out for school loans continues to rise, but unfortunately, the tuition price is reportedly outpacing students’ ability to pay it off. In 2020, the average student loan was surpassing $30,000. If we ever hope to fix the wealth gap in America, we need to look at the complete picture of how student loan debt affects Black graduates dispositionally.
It’s clear that the system is broken. In order to eradicate the problem of indebtedness, we need to create more equitable solutions for everyone and consider the unique experiences of Black people in America. Looking at the Black-White wealth gap, we already know that white graduates are paces ahead of their black peers. Upon graduation, it’s common for white young adults to receive help from their family to purchase their first home and start their adult life comfortably. But for black graduates, post-grad life might look different.
While white graduates can rely on inheritance and familial money to be in good financial standing, Black graduates use their newfound income to help their families. The patterns of intergenerational wealth transfers contribute to the three-quarters of Black graduates having more debt than they ever have before.
This is the problem with student debt in America, and the cry for student loan forgiveness only continues to grow louder. So will our government do something to remedy the issue, or will they continue to allow Black America to fall victim to student loan debt?