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The Racial Burden Of Student Debt



We had this argument a few years back in the UK, didn’t we? Non-gammons seemed to have more student debt because gammons were more likely to be able to pay in full from family resources. Thus this showed inequality. The more sensible pointed out that actually this showed the efforts being made to make society less inequitable, given the cheap money on offer to gain a university degree available to those who couldn’t otherwise get one.

We’re getting the same nonsense in the US over this.

Warren argued that student debt disproportionately burdens Black and Latino students, especially women of color.

Well, yes, obviously this is so. They have less money so therefore debt is more of a burden. Why this means we should cancel the debt of richer white folks I don’t know.

The moment they earn their bachelor’s degrees, black college graduates owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers ($23,400 versus $16,000, including non-borrowers in the averages).

Well, yes, obviously this is so. Black teenagers generally have less money – family or otherwise – than white teenagers do. So, they borrow more to get through school.

A growing body of research points to startling inequality in the debt burdens carried by black, Latino, and Native American students and those shouldered by white and Asian students. Best studied, and most dramatic, are the astronomically higher student loan debts of black students.

Look, this is obvious. Blacks tend to be poorer than whites both before and after college. So, whatever the cost of college is it’s going to impact more on blacks – on average – than whites. And lead to higher debts both nominally and as a portion of income.

It’s not hard to understand this.

As to what should be done about it that’s rather another matter. My take around here is that student loans are pretty cheap money. Certainly federal loans are cheaper than anyone’s going to offer the average 18 year old unsecured. And why do we make these offers of cheap money to 18 year olds? So that those poorer and largely blacker kids aren’t constrained by their or their parents current lower incomes from going to college. Of course, you fool.

At which point it really does look weird to be complaining about how much good that cheap money is doing those poor black kids. Because, of course, that they’ve got that higher loan balance is exactly the proof we need that they needed the money to be able to get through college and aren’t we a wondrous society for providing that opportunity to them?

Anything else smacks of that absurdity current these days. That complaining about how poor folks aren’t building housing equity all the while boasting about how much is spent in rent subsidies.



  1. Except that the money is being printed and guaranteed by the government against a level of university fees which *MIGHT* be justified for Oxbridge (indeed Oxbridge might be a bit low), but are vastly overpriced for Barnoldswick Technical College, leading to bad incentives and rent seeking, since the customer is no longer the student, but really the UK Government.

  2. Since blacks and women have this problem, it would obviously be a good idea to forbid all loans to them. Thus the blood-sucking leeches would not be drinking their lifes blood.

  3. The sort of person who spends their time making these complaints is exactly the sort of person who went and studied a subject that turned out to be worthless in the real world. They have wasted their time and burdened themselves with a debt that does not repay them with a greater earning capability.

    Solution: on the grounds that they con their customers into buying a worthless product, end 90% of all social science courses and humanities courses.


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