Student loan debt weighs more heavily on students of color than on their white counterparts.
For example, if you look only at four-year public colleges, an estimated 86.8% of black students borrow federal student loans to attend, but just 59.9% of white students do the same, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
With rising tuition costs outpacing inflation and wage growth, many students are struggling to afford college. In fact, about 44 million Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt.
Key findings: Students of color carry the most student debt
- Black students borrow federal student loans at higher rates than other groups of students. An estimated 77.7% of black students borrow federal student loans to pay for a higher education. This figure is significantly higher than the national average for all students (60%) and for white students (57.5%).
- Among class of 2012 graduates, Hispanic and black students graduated with higher amounts of student debt from private nonprofit colleges than white students. Black students also borrowed more at public colleges than white students.
- Among black students who started school in 2003, 1 in 2 defaulted on student loans within the following 12 years. Black students also saw their starting balance grow by a median 113% in that time frame. The rates of default were lower for Hispanic (36.1%) and white (21.5%) students.
77.7% of black students borrow federal student loans to pay for college
When the NCES looked at rates of student loan borrowing by race and ethnicity, it uncovered an undeniable fact: Overall, black students are more likely to take on debt to earn a higher education. This is true at public and private, two-year and four-year, and for-profit and nonprofit schools.
The disparity is greatest at public four-year colleges, where black students borrow at a rate of 86.8%. Across all types of colleges, black students borrow at a rate of 77.7%, a figure significantly higher than the overall average of 60%.
Hispanic students also borrow at relatively high rates: 65% at public four-year colleges and 73.5% at private four-year colleges. However, Hispanic students borrow at a lower rate (39.9%) for public two-year colleges compared to white (46.4%) and black (62.5%) students.
“Not only are students of color more likely to borrow more for a degree, and borrow in higher amounts for the same degree, but they’re more likely to struggle to repay student loans than white students,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst for Demos. “Students of color are also overrepresented at for-profit colleges and universities which account for a very large proportion of student loan defaults.”
The rates of borrowing across all groups are high at for-profit colleges. This is a worrisome fact in light of the questionable practices of some for-profit schools. Students who go into debt for a for-profit institution might graduate without the qualifications or skills training they were promised.
Black students also graduated with the highest amount of debt from public colleges in 2012 — $29,344, on average. Hispanic students, though, had the highest burden among those who attended private colleges, with an average debt of $36,266.
These numbers are likely even higher today. The average college graduate in the class of 2016 left school owing $37,172. As tuition rates continue to rise, students are going into greater debt to pay for their degree.
High student debt goes hand in hand with low income
No discussion of student debt and race would be complete without a look at household income.
“We cannot think of student loan debt in isolation from other areas of our economy,” said Huelsman. “For example, long-standing racism in the labor market has resulted in a country where black families with college degrees have lower average net worth than white families with a high school education or less.”
Twenty years ago, white households held a net worth seven times that of black households and six times that of Hispanic households, according to Demos data that Huelsman noted. After the recession, that disparity increased to 13 times and 10 times, respectively.
Dr. Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall University, discussed how students of color can be affected by economic inequality.
“The big issue is the large wealth gap between minority and white families,” Dr. Kelchen said. “It’s a lot harder to repay loans when nobody in your family can help you pay them off. Unemployment rates also tend to be higher for black and Hispanics, which makes repaying loans more difficult.”
The graph above shows the difference in median household earnings among races. Black households earned $39,490, Hispanic households earned $47,675, and white households brought in $65,041. Asian households had the highest median income at $81,431. Correspondingly, Asian students had the lowest rates of borrowing for college.
The unequal burden of student loan debt further aggravates disparities, since a big loan payment can make it difficult to build your career, grow your income, and achieve financial independence.
In 2014, among workers aged 25 to 34 who held a bachelor’s or higher degree, black households earned 23% less than the median for the overall population. Hispanic households earned 25% less.
If you’re struggling to make payments on federal student loans, speak to your loan servicer about your options. You could go on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, enter forbearance, or even pursue student loan forgiveness options.
Although these solutions don’t address the root problems that lead students into debt, they can help you manage your situation and avoid student loan default.
Indebted black students have the lowest graduation rates
While black students are more liable to borrow to pay for college, they also have the lowest graduation rates.
Among bachelor’s degree-seeking students entering a four-year program in 2008, just 21% of black students graduated from college in four years. Compare that to the 30% of Hispanic students, 44% of white students, and 48% of Asian students who graduated within that time frame.
According to The New York Times, the cost of college is a major obstacle to graduating on time. Many students can’t afford to continue or become overwhelmed from working long hours while studying for a degree.
Along with unequal graduation rates, we also see differences in educational attainment from adults aged 25 and older. The greatest number of bachelor’s degree holders are white and Asian.
Since a bachelor’s degree can boost earnings significantly over your lifetime, not having one can aggravate inequities among racial and ethnic groups.
Nearly 50% of black students default on their student loans
Student loan defaults are on the rise. The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of Americans in default on student loans reached 4.6 million in the third quarter of 2017.
NCES took a long-term look at the rates of default among students who started college in 2003. It found that nearly 1 in 2 black students had defaulted on a student loan within 12 years of starting school.
Among Hispanic students, the rate of student loan default was 36.1%. Among white students, the rate of default was 21.5%.
“Underrepresented minority students are far more likely to default on their student loans than are white and Asian students, even when conditioning on the type of college they attended and whether they graduated,” said Dr. Kelchen. “Minority students tend to have higher debt burdens and have more difficulty paying these loans off than other students.”
If you’re in danger of defaulting, switching to an IDR plan on your federal loans could help.
“If someone signs up for this program and loses their job, they likely won’t have to make any payments while not going into default,” said Dr. Kelchen. “Be warned that the paperwork for these programs can get tedious, so start it early and reach out to your student loan servicer or your former college for help if needed.”
Additionally, black students owed a median 113% of their original balance after 12 years of starting school. White and Hispanic students also had more than half their debt left after 12 years.
Student loans get in the way of building wealth
Student loan debt stands in the way of homeownership and saving for major life goals. An estimated 64% of bachelor’s degree-holding households without student debt own a home. Among degree-holding households with student debt, only 53% own a home.
Further, those with a bachelor’s degree but no education debt have saved an average of $98,687 for retirement. Bachelor’s degree recipients with loans have less than half of that with an average savings of $42,751.
However, those with student debt that didn’t finish college have only saved an average $25,510 for retirement. This shows that while a college degree could set you back financially, it might still be worth the cost.
“Whereas workers could once rely on employer-sponsored pensions to cover their retirement savings, we now have a system in which most people must save for their own retirement in addition to meeting all of these other costs, monthly student loan payments included,” said Huelsman.
“For communities with less wealth, it takes a major toll,” he continued. “The result is that many of the trends that created racial inequality in our economy have only expanded.”
Although a bachelor’s degree still corresponds with higher earnings and assets, its value is undercut if you have to take out student loans.
It also doesn’t help that wage growth has stalled.
“Wages have stagnated for the vast majority of American workers,” Huelsman said. “Employers have engaged in fewer job training opportunities, and other costs in our economy (child care and healthcare to name a few) have increased nearly as much as the price of college.”
How borrowers can overcome the burden of student debt
When you break down student loan debt by race and ethnicity, the disparities within this national burden become clear.
If you’re a student loan borrower, educate yourself by seeking out financial resources to help you deal with your student debt. American Student Assistance, for example, offers free student counseling services.
You can also check out guides on how student loan interest works and how to choose the right repayment plan. The sooner you learn how to manage your student loans properly, the easier it’ll be to pay them off later.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.80% – 9.36%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.91% – 5.25%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.53%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.15% – 4.42%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.00% – 5.63%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.15%-4.42% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
7 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
8 Important Disclosures for Nelnet.
Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.
Request for the cosigner to be released can be made by the borrower after 24 consecutive, on-time payments (not later than 15 days after the due date) of principal and interest have been made. Borrowers in deferment or forbearance must make 24 consecutive, on-time payments after re-entering repayment to qualify for the release. The borrower must be current on their payments at the time of the cosigner release request and show the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) by meeting certain credit criteria on their own at the time of the request, including, but not limited to, being a U.S. citizen or having permanent residency in the United States, being the age of majority in their permanent state of residency, providing sufficient proof of income, and having no student loans in default.
Hardship forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend payments on your loan(s) while you are experiencing financial hardship. It is offered in increments of two or three months, with a maximum of 12 months available, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. If your loan(s) are in good standing at the time of your request, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of two monthly payments. If, at the time of your initial request, your loan(s) are considered past-due, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of three monthly payments. Future increments of forbearance, up to a life-time maximum of 12 months, may be requested upon the completion of making a certain number of principal and interest payments. During the two- or three-month forbearance period, you will not be required to make payments; however, any unpaid interest will continue to accrue and will be capitalized (added) onto your principal balance at the end of the forbearance period. You may continue making payments in any amount without penalty during the forbearance period. Your loan repayment term will be extended by the number of months in the forbearance period.
Refinance Loan Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number, and be the legal age to enter into binding contracts in your permanent state/territory of residency, or be at least 17 years of age and apply with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority in their state/territory. Non-residents can apply with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number. The student loans you refinance must be in their grace or repayment period, and you can no longer be enrolled in school on a half-time or more basis. You must have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You, or your eligible cosigner, must have an annual income of at least $36,000. Approval subject to credit review. Other credit criteria may apply.
Refinance Loan Limits:
Loan Refinancing Risks: Federal student loans include benefits that may not be offered with private student loans. Carefully review any potential benefits that may be lost by refinancing federal and private education loans, such as the loss of any remaining grace periods. To learn more about what to take into consideration when refinancing federal student loans with private education loans, click here
Selecting ‘Get Started’ results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Fixed interest rates range from 2.99% APR (with auto debit discount) to 6.25% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable interest rates range from 2.00% APR (with auto debit discount) to 5.63% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. The variable interest rate is equal to the One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“One-Month LIBOR”) plus a margin. The One-Month LIBOR in effect for each monthly period (from the first day of the month through and including the last day of the same month) will be the highest One-Month LIBOR published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding such calendar month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable interest rate loan will change monthly on the first day of each month if the One-Month LIBOR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month LIBOR index is 0.15% as of 5/4/2021.
The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments, a five-year repayment term, and the borrower making immediate principal and interest payments. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate. The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, (3) the loan type selected, and (4) the highest level of education attained. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.
*Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. **Your actual savings may vary based on interest rates, outstanding balances, remaining repayment terms, and other factors.