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The Issue of African American College Students Loan Debt

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College is a very expensive experience especially without any help or coming from a single parent home. Good news is that Black Americans, especially Black women, are earning more college degrees than ever. For a black student, the financial burden of higher education hits hardest. However, at Morehouse College, a billionaire by the name of Robert F. Smith paid off the class of 2019 debt, which was estimated to be around $10-40 million.

Not only is tuition far higher across the board than it used to be, but as the Wall Street Journal reported last month, historically Black colleges and universities have been especially impacted by the student debt crisis. HBCUs have smaller endowments — partly because their graduates’ debts take precedent. Students who attend private institutions like Morehouse College, where tuition was $25,368 in the latest academic year, and other expenses (including room and board, books and fees) push the total cost of attendance to nearly twice of that, are more likely to take out loans than their non-private HBCU counterparts. Many African American students go to college and take out loans just to attend. It is expected of most African Americans to take out loans for college.

According to Aaron Mitchom from Black America weeks before graduating from Morehouse on “a Sunday, 22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchom drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans 25 years at half his monthly salary.” Our student loan debt crisis is preventing millions of young Americans from purchasing homes, starting families, saving for retirement and creating wealth. No group is held back more by student loan debt than African Americans, who come out of college with an average loan balance of $34,000. Whether you know it or not but student loans make up half of the students’ debt and what they must repay. This event was significant to African Americans because as one we should all want each other to succeed. Smith showed his fellow classmates that he wanted nothing but the absolute best for them in life.

It is however a burden for many African Americans to try and buy a house or anything along those lines due to their deep debt. According to smith in CNN ‘Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward,’ he continued. ‘I want my class to look at these (alumni) – these beautiful Morehouse brothers and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.’ Paying off student debt may be an everlasting thing; it may take several years to pay off college debt.

As an African America college student attending an HBCU I know what it is like to have to borrow loans just to attend school. College is of course not cheap and many come from a single parent home where the funds are not there to support their college needs. Black students are uniquely impacted by the student debt crisis, and this donation has brought this issue further into the light, the first step towards real change. Today, the debt may be higher than ever and that is something that the 2020 candidates are looking at; what can we do to reduce student debt?

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The Issue Of African American College Students Loan Debt. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
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