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How student debt continues to become a setback for many Black students

How student debt continues to become a setback for many Black students

By Kathrina Tiangco

Aaron Coleman, a New York University graduate reveals how he experienced living in poverty while he was studying at NYU. Shortly after moving to New York to study, he started running out of options when it came to his finances. He already had bad credit, to begin with and did not find any luck in NYU’s graduate housing. At this point, he wasn’t sure what to do next.

Uncertainty plagues many Black college students across the U.S. They are more likely to experience insecurities in housing and food compared to other races based on research. 47% of Black students enrolled in four-year courses struggle to gain access to healthy food in comparison to 30% of their white peers.

The racial inequality continues to exist in higher education. Coleman remembers how he was spared from being homeless by a former coworker who let him sleep in his living room until he found a dormitory. Housing was just at the top of his financial problems. He eventually needed to attend mandatory trips to study abroad where he was required to pay for the trip in advance.

When it comes to financial aid, Coleman was asked to cover the expenses until the university could clear the checks. After his first year, he discovered more hidden fees and the growing expenses was overwhelming. His solution was to take in more loans.

Statistics show that African Americans have the highest student debt with $53,000 after graduating college. The default rate of their loans is at 7.8% while white students are only at 2.4%.

The burden of student debt prevents Black graduates from starting their own business and buying their own house. Instead of having a thriving career and more opportunities, a college degree becomes another financial problem for most Black students.

This is what the black college experience is all about. Sadly, it reflects that African Americans in college have so many setbacks. However, not all institutions see it this way. Some colleges such as Georgia State University emphasize the importance of being intentional in promoting racial equality among the students. At the same time, they are supporting black students to succeed in their education.

Georgia State University has programs to help the requirements of students from low-income families. Their programs include micro-grants for balance and tuition due. They also aid in tutoring as well as programs to enhance financial literacy.

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