Washington, DC, Sept. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), and the Center for Community Capital (CCC) at the University of North Carolina are partnering to investigate the Black Student Debt Crisis, with a particular focus on Black students who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The mixed-methods research project, “Understanding Borrowing & Default: A Closer Look at Outcomes for Black Student Loan Borrowers,” is supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation.
Previous research has established that black borrowers and other borrowers of color tend to have more difficulty repaying student loans than their white peers due to a number of structural factors. The racial wealth gap, discrimination in the job market, declining funding for institutions that serve more students of color, and other factors are systemic barriers to a debt-free education. Thus, student loan debt is both a product of the racial wealth gap while simultaneously fueling its growth. This study will differ from most previous research because of its focus on black borrowers who attend HBCUs.
Despite the well-known structural barriers, too little is known about the experiences and perspectives of black borrowers themselves. In order to identify potential solutions to reverse this troubling trend, the upcoming study will address these questions:
- How do black students experience repayment and default?
- How do black borrowers at HBCUs compare to their peers at historically white institutions during repayment?
- What is the role of HBCUs in helping black borrowers manage loans and repayment?
- What do black borrowers think are the most promising policy solutions to the student debt crisis?
“The common narrative in the media is that HBCUs and their students are disproportionately to blame for the student debt crisis, but that reasoning is far too narrow,” said Dr. Brian K. Bridges, Vice-Chancellor. UNCF President for Research and Membership Engagement. “This study will help shed light on the underlying reasons why black students, particularly those who attend HBCUs, borrow and how they manage repayment. We believe the results will be illustrative for many in higher education and we are grateful that Lumina Foundation is partnering with us in this important research.
“Higher education was meant to be the great equalizer, providing a path to the middle class and financial security for black students,” said Ashley Harrington, director of federal advocacy at the Center for Responsible Lending. “Yet we know that black students must earn more degrees and take on more debt than their white counterparts to obtain similar job opportunities and income levels. We also know that HBCUs have a crucial role to play in creating upward mobility for tens of thousands of Black students. We are grateful for the Lumina Foundation grant, which will help us better understand how Black students and the HBCUs that support them can fully leverage their investment in higher education.
“Data shows that black borrowers tend to borrow at higher rates than their non-black peers,” said Jess Dorrance, chief executive of the UNC Center for Community Capital. “However, this information alone is insufficient and it obscures the complexities and nuances of how and why black borrowers make decisions and what solutions and supports are needed for borrowers and institutions to ensure that investment in higher education pays off rather than putting borrowers behind. With the generous support of the Lumina Foundation, this work will add needed depth to this story and inform equitable policy solutions.
UNCF, CRL and UNC CCC will publish the results of their study by August 2021.
Contact: Vincenza Previte, [email protected]
Brian Bridges, [email protected]
Jess Dorrance, [email protected]
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community, and the nation, UNCF supports student education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and champions the importance of education minorities and college preparation. Institutions at UNCF and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American bachelor’s degrees. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo depicts the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”.® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for ongoing updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.