Black College Grads Borrow More, Earn Less Than Peers

Black millennial bachelor’s degree-holders earn 22% less than non-Black grads.
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Photo: Student Loan Hero

The story of financial inequality in the U.S. has many chapters on the different ways Black Americans suffer disproportionately. Whether it’s net worth, homeownership, income or some other factor, Black consumers often face challenging barriers to financial stability and wealth building. Student debt is another barrier.

While the student debt crisis has impacted entire generations’ ability to hit historically “normal” life milestones like getting married and having children, it continues to impact Black borrowers more. Not only do Black students borrow 35% more on average in student loans than their non-Black peers, but Student Loan Hero researchers found that Black millennial bachelor’s degree-holders earn 22% less than non-Black grads.

Key findings

  • Black millennials with a bachelor’s degree earned less on average than other degree-holding millennials. Black millennials earned 22% less on average in 2019, outpacing their peers in just three states — Oregon, Maine and Alaska.
  • The earnings gap for recent graduates widened in more than half of U.S. states. From 2014 to 2019, the earnings gap for recent graduates ages 25 to 29 widened in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The gap widened by more than 29 percentage points in Vermont, most of any state.
  • Black students borrowed more in student loans than their fellow students. At four-year public schools, Black students and their families borrowed 35% more, on average, in the 2015-2016 academic year (the latest available data). Non-Black families contributed an average of $14,434 to their student’s education, more than double the $5,545 Black families contributed.

Read full story here.

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