The student loan gap is still widening

According to an annual report on equity trends in higher education, the racial and income gap that affects students’ ability to attend college and pay continues to widen, contributing to more debt and less resources for certain groups of students.

The “Indicator of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2022 Historical Trends Report,” published on Tuesday, shows that students from low-income families and those who received Pell Grants borrowed $ 43,983 to go to college, compared to $ 25,375 borrowed by high-income students. Family. Black students from low-income backgrounds borrowed 27,066 more than white students from similar backgrounds.

The report also found that four years after their graduation, 48 percent of black students owe more than their initial borrowed amount, compared to 17 percent of white students. Black students averaged 6 percent more debt, while white students averaged 10 percent less.

The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunities in Higher Education and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy have jointly published the annual study since 2015.

“The growing inequality of income and resources in the United States and rising costs of higher education threaten college admissions and students’ career paths,” said Terry Vaughan III, director of the Pell Institute, one of the report’s authors, in a statement. “Many college students, especially students of color, struggle with high student debt and limited family resources that should be addressed through resource-based solutions.”

Growing student loans effectively wiped out assets but did so at a hugely higher rate for black students (37 percent reported negative net assets 10 years after their degree) than white students (18 percent), the report said.

Citing a 2001 United Nations declaration that higher education should be “equally accessible to all,” the authors have created a report on the premise that higher education should be considered a fundamental human right.

“Unfortunately, the statistics we track show nothing more than equal access to higher education in the United States,” Margaret Cahlan, co-author of the report and a senior research fellow at the Pell Institute, said in a statement. “If higher education is a human right, knowledge is essential for full participation in the economy, then we need a fundamental structural change in our higher education system so that every person has the right to develop their diverse talents to be a full participant in society.” “

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