Student Loan Equity Gap Continues to Grow, Report Finds

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Photo of a graduation cap on a pile of U.S. 100 dollar bills

A recent report on equity trends in higher education has found that student debt is growing at a higher rate for low-income and underrepresented individuals.

The “Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2022 Historical Trend Report is the latest in an annual series published by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.

The report determined that economically disadvantaged students borrow approximately $18,000 more throughout their college careers than those from high-income families. The disparity between Black and White low-income students is even more pronounced, with Black students from low-income backgrounds borrowing $27,000 more than their White peers.

The report also found that 48 percent of Black students owed more in student loans after graduation than when they originally borrowed; that number was only 17 percent for White students.

“Despite gradual increases in U.S. Higher Education participation and attainment over the last half century, the Equity Indicators Historical Trend Report finds persistent inequity throughout the U.S. higher education system,” states an executive summary of the report. “These intersecting inequities contribute to the U.S. having lower rates of increase and a lower rate of widening participation in educational attainment than other developed nations.”