Black Track: August 26, 2022

Encourage our children to attend college, review all the options

Attending college is an aspiration for many people. It’s something that is encouraged by school counselors and teachers, especially when you grow up in poverty. Unfortunately, college is not always encouraged by families or parents from low income neighborhoods due to factors involving the cost to go to college. Another factor is how un-common it is for someone within a low income family to attend college. Given the high the cost of going to college, is the cost a deterrent? When looking at the negative impact the cost of going to college has had on society, it clearly is a deterrent. College tuition and the debt that comes with it can cause is a real concern, particularly for African Americans. Student loan debt has been an ongoing conversation in America since I can remember. In this article we’ll do a breakdown on how student loans are hindering Black Americans from advancing, increasing financial wealth, and highlighting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that help to lessen financial burdens and often have higher success rates.
It’s important to mention that, “For over a quarter of a century, New Mexico has been a national leader in providing free college to its residents. A fully funded Opportunity Scholarship opens the door for every New Mexican to reach higher, strengthening our economy, our families and our communities” (NM Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) In New Mexico the SB 140 law was signed into effect in 2022, which expanded free college tuition to most residents. (CNN, 2022) As a recipient of the scholarship, not having to worry about how classes will be paid for provides peace of mind. New Mexico is a trailblazer in higher education for it’s residents and continues to be an example of what progress looks like when trying to attain higher education.
What New Mexico is doing isn’t typical in other states. United States student loan debt is nearly at $1.75 trillion as of 2022. (Student Loan Hero, 2022) Furthermore, a report from 2022 recorded that 55% of bachelor’s degree recipients who graduated from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges had student loan debt. (Student Loan Hero, 2022). Regarding Black undergraduate students, 32% of Black undergraduate students borrow $40,000-$59,999 cumulatively. (Hanson, 2022) African American students have the second- highest monthly payments of around $350 or more. (Hanson, 2022)

This is money that could go towards savings accounts, paying off cars, or even toward the elusive goal of home ownership, which could improve the national economy. The craziest part of this is that scientist, economists, and sociologist agree that racial and ethnic variations in student loan debt and repayment are the results of socioeconomic factors, rather than physical or inborn characteristics. The forgiveness of student loan debt could possibly increase Black wealth by up to 40%. (Hanson, 2022)
According to the Education Data Initiative, over 50% of Black student borrowers report their net worth is less than what they owe in student loan debt. Four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed. (Hanson, 2022) Depending on the program, a Black person going to college could put themselves in more debt than entry-level employment could ever pay them, which hinders financial advancements. 46% of Black student borrowers are more likely to put off buying a home, while 66% regret taking out a student loans to fund their education in the first place. Unfortunately, getting a loan is the most accessible route to attending college for the less fortunate.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) provide a solution. HBCU tuition rates are, on average, almost 30% less than comparable institutions, while maintaining the same quality of education. (Lomax, 2021) In fact, HBCU’s produce almost 20% of all African American graduates and 25% of African American graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the critical industries of the future. (Lomax, 2021) We also know that Black students perform better when they are supported. The Gallup-Purdue poll noted that Black graduates of HBCUs are significantly more likely to have received support while in college than their Black peers who graduated from predominantly White institutions. (Lomax, 2021). Now, where you apply is your choice, but consider the facts.