Graduation should be the happiest moment for many college and university students. Many graduate with successful careers or jobs and a mountain load of debt in their back pockets. Since COVID-19, degree holders have struggled to repay their student loan debt, particularly Black or African-Americans the most.
The National Center for Education Statistics released two reports from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences earlier this week. According to a press release, both studies examined approximately 25,000 college and university graduates from 2015 to 2016 using surveys and federal student loan databases. Each reveals details about each graduate’s education, employment in the labor force, family and other experiences since obtaining their degree.
Why the Pandemic Caused Problems
“Data from the 2016/20 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:16/20) show the array of issues that are impacting college graduates, both positively and negatively, early in their career paths,” said NCES commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “As our country responds to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data presented in these reports provide important information for uncovering and understanding the experiences of recent college graduates in an unprecedented time. Overall, the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study can be used to understand and chart pathways toward better opportunities for lifelong success.”
Why African-Americans Owed a Higher Percentage
Some 77 percent of bachelor’s degree holders who studied education are new teachers or have been teaching since 2017. However, the first report takes a deeper dive into their financial well-being and how graduates repay their federal student loan debt. It found that African Americans owed 105 percent of the loan they borrowed, and American Indians and Latinos owed 87 percent and 82 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, whites owed 73 percent of their original loan amount compared to Asian graduates, who owed 63 percent.
The second report examines 2015-2016 college graduates during the pandemic, revealing that 51 percent were allowed to telecommute. The collected information also looks at their personal and professional life, unemployment status, loan debt and other factors since graduation. Most degree holders took on additional family and child-care responsibilities during the pandemic, but the percentage varies based on race.
And, 29 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native degree earners said their responsibilities increased due to taking on additional family and child care. The percentage decreases for other races, including Black or African-American and Hispanic or Latino graduates, at 19 percent, and Asian graduates at 14 percent.
Both studies can be found at https://nces.ed.gov. But they don’t reveal the long-term effects of student loan debt for Blacks or African-Americans due to wages and employment.
The research found in a 2019 report shows that third-party companies collect and process payments on loans on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. It also shows that Black borrowers take out twice as much loan debt as white graduates.
However, Blacks or African-Americans often endure longstanding discriminatory policies and practices such as receiving low-quality services. This includes sharing misleading information such as the eligibility for affordable repayment plans or debt cancellation based on their incomes. This also leads to higher poverty rates and lower earnings to support family wealth.