According to a new report shared by The American Association of University Women, Black women are burden by 22% more student loan debt than their white female counterparts.
In their coverage of the AAUW’s data, CNBC’s Make It comprehensively shared that on average white women owe $33,851 while comparatively, Black women owe $41,466 in terms of cumulative debt on undergraduate loans one year after graduation.
Relatedly, “Graduate school can exacerbate the differences in how much women across different races owe” — and “Among those with graduate school debt, white women are estimated to owe $56,098, on average, while Black women owe closer to $75,085.”
As per the outlet’s reporting, the AAUW’s CEO Kim Churches noted, “While there are more Black women enrolled in higher education than ever before, it’s deeply concerning that Black women hold so much more student debt than their white counterparts. Sadly, though, it’s unsurprising. It’s a stark reflection of the wide racial wealth gap in our country that leaves Black families with less money to contribute to higher education.”
“Making certain Black women can comfortably access and afford that education should be a top policy priority,” Churches additionally emphasized. “Our entire society pays a high price for this kind of inequity, and it’s imperative we work to correct it.”
Regarding long-term solutions that can help lessen the amount of student loan debt women acquire overall — and relatedly, lessen the educational and societal gaps that cause Black women to acquire more than their counterparts — the AAUW detailed things that can be done to tackle the problem on governmental, institutional, and individual levels.
The suggestions included things like Congress further protecting and expanding Pell Grants for low-income students and passing stronger legislation to address the gender pay gap specifically. On a state level, legislators should move to increase funding for public colleges and universities and offer debt-free options for students — while the institutions themselves might try addressing both the academic and overall financial needs of students by offering affordable access to child care.
Lastly, the report noted that “Individuals can join organizations like AAUW that work to close the gender pay gap.”