A Matter of Racial Justice: New Report Explores How Black Borrowers Experience Student Loans and Debt

November 15, 2021

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Title: Jim Crow Debt: How Black Borrowers Experience Student Loans

Authors: Jalil B. Mustaffa, Ph.D. & Jonathan C.W. Davis, Ph.D.

Source: The Education Trust

The Education Trust, in partnership with Jalil B. Mustaffa, Ph.D., recently released a new brief that centers the lived experiences and perspectives of nearly 1,300 Black borrowers. Using a mixed-method approach and in-depth interviews, the research intends to capture the authentic voices of those impacted by the student debt crisis in a meaningful way. Respondents noted that student loans are a “deliberate policy failure” (p. 14) and mirror the tenets of Jim Crow.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Black borrowers do not affirm that student loans are “good debt.” Furthermore, referencing student loans as such disregards the realities of Black borrowers who have fewer financial resources than their non-Black counterparts and often must rely on student loans to fund their education.
  • Black borrowers believe that income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are counterproductive and burdensome. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents enrolled in an IDR plan projected that it would take at least 16 years or more to offset their debt.
  • Student loans have negatively impacted Black borrowers’ mental health and quality of life and served as a primary source of financial stress. Limiting student loan debt cancellation will continue to harm Black borrowers disproportionately and contribute to these negative impacts, which have been exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Collectively, the Black borrowers of this report believe that the only solution to this student loan crisis is complete debt cancellation authorized by the government.

To read the full report, click here.

—Brianna C.J. Clark

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