Black women tend to have more college debt. Here’s what they can do
Students can take several steps to combat college debt.
According to a recent study by the non-profit organization The Education Trust, black students are significantly more likely to have the highest average student loan debt of any group in the United States, including their white peers.
This is a situation that Dr. Shamell Bell knows well. Although she had scholarships, Bell, who is now a Harvard lecturer and single mother, took out several student loans to pay for her living expenses while she pursued graduate school.
Bell told “Good Morning America” the stress of her college debt had a significant impact on her life. “Every night I don’t sleep because I worry about my bills. I worry about my loan payments. I worry about my credit,” she said.
“We were sold a lie with the education system. I went all the way to the top and still feel like I failed.”
Bell is not alone. A 2021 report from the American Association of University Women, based in part on federal data, shows that not only do women earn less than men after graduating, but they have more debt, on average 31 $276 more. Black women also borrowed an average of $37,558, more than other racial and ethnic groups overall.
Financial aid expert Jessica Brown, author of “How To Pay For College When You’re Broke,” told “GMA” there are several keys to tackling college debt. Here are his recommendations:
Financial advice for incoming students
– Research potential schools.
– Understand the cost of attending different schools.
– Make a financial plan with your family.
Financial advice for current students
– Use apps to search for “unclaimed” scholarships. Apps like Scholly and the HBCU hub can help you identify these funds. You can also research community organizations and see if they offer scholarships for which you are eligible.
– Build a relationship with your college’s financial aid office.
– Maintain academic excellence. Many scholarships reward strong academic performance.
Financial advice for graduates
– Build a relationship with your loan manager. This way you can identify the best repayment plan that is realistic and feasible for you.
– Learn about federal student loan consolidation and see if it would be the best fit for your situation.
– Check your eligibility for public service debt forgiveness. Some jobs, in industries such as education and the federal government, offer employee loan forgiveness.