Student Debt by Skin Color
Posted on Oct 29, 2011
You may know that American student debt—which is swelling at a rate of almost $3,000 a second—is expected to hit $1 trillion by the end of the year. But do you know how the tab breaks down by ethnicity? Who owes the most? Who owes the least? Is anyone escaping its debilitating grip?
By ethnic measures, the answer to that last question is no. According to the folks at Color Lines, a large number of black and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students register in the top bracket of borrowers, owing $38,000 or more. Blacks and Native Americans lead the next level, owing between roughly $21,000 and $38,000. Asians and whites top out the $12,300 to $21,400 bracket, and a large number of Asians and Latinos owe $13,000 or less.
White students are spread evenly throughout, with roughly a quarter of falling into each of the four categories. Asians have a relatively marginal presence in the group of top debtors, with only 32 percent owing more than $21,400. Altogether, blacks and Native Americans, Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders owe the most.
No explanation of the data is offered. It would be useful to know, for example, what social trends have kept the debts of certain groups low. Why do over 60 percent of black students owe $21,000 or more, while almost the same percentage of Asians escape that level of indebtedness? Only the sociologists can tell us.
See the full graphic here. —Alexander Reed Kelly