September 24 – The statistical differential is staggering.
According to Contexts, a social research magazine, white college graduates have more than seven times the wealth of black college graduates.
It is therefore not surprising that black graduates often take on more debt to obtain a degree and then have a harder time repaying that debt.
With that in mind, President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive $20,000 in debt for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 in grants for other qualified student loans is just a short-sighted solution to a problem. long standing, especially for black students.
In a recent news article by CNHI State Reporter Carson Gerber, Ibrahim Tanner, a 2010 graduate of Ball State University, who is Black, shared his story.
Twelve years after graduating, Tanner, 39, an Indianapolis trucking company owner, still owes $35,000 in student loans.
That will more than halve, thanks to the Biden plan. But Tanner, like thousands of other black graduates, will continue to struggle with significant student debt.
The Biden administration says the loan forgiveness plan will advance racial equity for black students, who are more likely to borrow for school and take out larger loans. Black students, the administration notes, are twice as likely as white students to receive Pell grants.
Tanner acknowledges that the Biden program will cover more than half of his remaining student loans. But he also sees clearly that rising debt will continue to be a serious problem for black students.
“Biden’s initiative is a band aid on a gunshot wound,” he said. “I think what you’re essentially seeing is the racial wealth gap is getting wider.”
According to the Education Data Initiative, black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more than white college graduates in student loans. In fact, four years after graduation, 48% of black students owe an average of 13% more than they borrowed.
A study by the Brookings Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank, found that a college degree does not reduce the earnings gap between white and black workers. It may even contribute to this divide.
So while Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will be a boon for student loan debtors of all races, it really does not address the systemic inequalities woven into the nation’s higher education and economic systems.
In the future, this will not change much for those who accumulate student debt.
A long-term solution is desperately needed to ensure that all students seeking a college degree can afford it and to close the racial gap in higher education for good.