Student loans deepen racial inequalities in America
Special education teacher Tameka Jackson has rented a house in South Chicago for over 10 years.
“I want a house, but after all of this, will I ever be able to afford a house,” Jackson said.
She dreams of buying her first house and moving her family to a safer neighborhood.
“I have a 16-year-old who I’m worried about because it’s gang violence here they’re recruiting,” Jackson said.
But she’s trapped because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars she owes in student loans.
“I am not able to support and live comfortably,” Jackson said.
Growing up in poverty, Jackson forged a new path by doing what no one in his family had ever done, pursue higher education. It was something she could only afford by taking out numerous student loans.
“School was the only thing that saved my life,” she said. “I didn’t have any money. My mother was drunk on drugs.”
Today, she says her loans total over $ 500,000.
The 40-year-old mother says multiple family tragedies and her modest salary as a public school teacher have made it nearly impossible to achieve financial stability.
His financial situation illustrates a troubling fact about student loans in America: they exacerbate racial inequalities.
“Student loan debt contributes to the racial wealth gap, in large part because black people have been discriminated against and the wealth gap is huge,” said Andre Perry, senior researcher at Brookings.
The average white family is nearly eight times the wealth of the average black family. As a result, black students are more likely to take out student loans and borrow more.
This envelopes them financially for longer periods.
“The reason that many more, in percentage, blacks and browns, especially blacks, have to take out student loans is because we have been denied opportunities for wealth creation for most of the time. ‘US history,’ said Perry.
For a disproportionate number of black Americans, paying off debt is often a lifelong struggle.
Twenty years after starting college, the average black borrower still owes 95% of their student debt.
Brandeis University researchers say that compares to just 6% for the average white student.
As for Jackson, she urges lawmakers to write off student debt as much as possible to free people like her from a stifling financial burden.
This story was originally reported on Newsy.com.