Disproportionately Impacted: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap through Student Loan Cancellation, Payment Reforms, and Investment in College Affordability

Today in 2023, the student debt crisis is particularly dire for African-Americans borrowers. Black degree-seekers are more likely to take out student loans to pay for higher education than their white counterparts and carry the largest average student loan debt of all racial demographics in the nation. Additionally, workforce inequities leave college-educated black workers with higher rates of unemployment AND underemployment.

The COVID-19 pandemic have created even more barriers to both postsecondary success and worker’s economic stability, and African-Americans are still struggling to make a full economic recovery. The pause on student loan payments has temporarily eased the financial stress of student debt or millions of borrowers during the public health emergency. However, this relief is only temporary. Without broad-based cancellation and reforms to the student loan and federal student aid systems, the U.S. higher education system will continue to hinder, rather than support African American’s economic mobility.

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