Student loans

Experts say canceling student debt will help black women

The Education Trust hosted a webinar on Wednesday with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Black Girls Vote and Higher Heights for America PAC.

Diverse education reports Webinar panelists addressed the disproportionate financial and mental burden of student debt on Black women and how it affects their physical and mental health and their families.

According to the Education Trust, black women have an average student debt of $38,000 after earning a bachelor’s degree and $52,000 after earning a graduate degree. Additionally, Education Trust reports that 12 years after starting college, black women typically owe 113% of their student loans, while all other demographics can repay some of what they owe.

victoria jacksondeputy director of higher education policy at Education Trust, said black women “bear the heaviest burden of the high cost of a college education”.

“We have fewer resources because of racism and sexism — gender pay gaps and wealth are well documented,” Jackson told Diverse Education.

“When you think about the stress of not having your balance drop, how demoralizing that can be, it creates financial stress and has ripple effects. Research shows that debt, in general, can hurt to mental health.

To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated mental health issues for black women.

Belma Moriera knows the burden first hand. The single mother of four chose to go to college to get ahead in life as a massage therapist and beautician, a job that would give her a good income, stability and time to spend with her family.

“My belief has always been to work hard and teach my kids what you can achieve if you work hard and are responsible,” Moriera told Diverse Education.

“But this system is not designed for me, or my children, as a black woman.”

Moriera attended three for-profit colleges, including ITT Tech, by the time she graduated. Today, she still owes $24,000 in student loans, even after the Biden administration announced $1.1 billion in debt relief to 115,000 borrowers who participated in ITT Tech. She shared her story during the webinar on Wednesday, and thousands of other black women and men have the same story.

The Biden administration is still trying to develop a way to provide student debt relief for millions of Americans who attended college, for profit or otherwise. Biden has suggested eliminating $10,000 in loan debt, but hundreds of labor unions and civil rights organizations say $10,000 isn’t sufficient.