Black borrowers are hit hardest by the student debt crisis

Canceling student debt is part of the solution, according to a new report from Penn GSE’s Jalil Mustaffa Bishop.

This fall, the NAACP released a new report, “Legislation, Policy and the Black Student Debt Crisis: A Status Report on College Access, Equity, and Funding a Higher Education for the Black Public Good,” co-authored by Jalil Mustaffa Bishop, vice-provost postdoctoral scholar and Penn GSE lecturer.

Crowd of graduates wearing mortarboards walking in procession at commencement.

Bishop and his co-authors detail the ways in which the student debt crisis hits Black borrowers the hardest. They also make a detailed argument for canceling student loan debt and reinvesting in the institutions that serve the most Black students.

“When you look at the data and focus on Black borrowers, you see that student loans actually sit at the intersection of a few issues,” says Mustaffa Bishop. “They reflect historical patterns of racial debt traps, current issues in higher education systems, unequal opportunities in the labor market, and ongoing issues of race and racism.”

The report pushes back against the idea that rising enrollment rates and access to college financing are giving Black students an equitable higher education experience.

“Black students are hearing the message that higher education is accessible to them, that loans are the way to get there, and that job opportunities and economic progress for you and your family will follow from there. Black students are chasing the promise,” says Mustaffa Bishop.

“But our research shows that every step of that journey is riddled with inequality in a way that undercuts that promise.”

Read more at Penn GSE.