Senators Probe Ways to Address Student Loans Weighing the Heaviest on Black and Hispanic Students
A group of Senators is aiming to improve federal policies for student borrowers of color and make access to higher education more equitable. Black students graduated with the highest amount of debt from public colleges in 2012 -- $29,344, on average. Hispanic students had the highest burden among those who attended private colleges, with an average debt of $36,266. These numbers are likely even higher today. Subject matter experts found that the racial wealth gap is both the biggest and has grown the fastest among those with a college education. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent letters last week to nearly 100 key stakeholders nationwide to solicit feedback on the best ways to address this issue. Stakeholders receiving the letter include experts in education policy and leaders in business, advocacy, academia, civil rights, consumer protection, and women's issues. "African-American and Latino students still owe more than 100 percent of their loan balance after 12 years of college entry, even if they complete a degree. White students, meanwhile, owe anywhere between 47 to 70 percent of their loan balance depending on the credential they obtained,” the lawmakers wrote. “Even among bachelor's degree graduates, the African-American-white debt gap more than triples after graduation, due to differences in interest accrual, graduate school borrowing, and ongoing deeper issues related to labor market discrimination, racialized economic hardships, and familial wealth," their letter continued. "These outcomes are staggering and unacceptable. As members of Congress, we are committed to doing better for these students and ask for your assistance in defining specific proposals the federal government can take to address these disparities." Read the full letter here.