Black women in the US hold around 20 percent more student debt than white women, a report released by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found.
“Women graduate owing almost $22,000 in student debt, compared to $18,880 owed by men. Black women graduate with an average of $37,558 in student debt,” the AAUW stated.
AAUW Chief Executive Officer Kim Churches told CNBC that while more Black women are enrolled in higher education, it is “deeply concerning” that they also hold 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,” Churches explained.
Women ‘Delaying Life Milestones’ Over Student Debt
Aside from the difficulties that underserved communities may have financing their student loans or finding jobs after college, Churches also pointed out that the weight of student debt forces many women to delay major life milestones. These include buying a home, starting a family, and building a nest egg for retirement.
“We cannot continue to ignore the student debt crisis — especially since women’s disproportionate share of job losses during the pandemic further undercuts their ability to pay back student loans. We need our policymakers to take action right away,” she explained.
These numbers indicate that problems with access to education are intersectional, and that it has been present for several years. In 2019, a report compiled by multimedia financial services company The Motley Fool also found that women and Black students are more likely to take out student loans to pay for their college education.
The AAUW urges state and local governments to make college more accessible. They recommend investing in public institutions, increasing and expanding federal Pell Grants, and equitable forgiveness of student debt for all borrowers.