January 04, 2019

Warren Joins Jones, Colleagues in Effort to Examine and Address Disproportionate Student Debt Burden Among Borrowers of Color

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-N.M.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), in sending letters to nearly 100 key stakeholders nationwide to solicit feedback that can help improve federal policies for student borrowers of color and make access to higher education more equitable. Stakeholders receiving the letter include experts in education policy and leaders in business, advocacy, academia, civil rights, consumer protection, and women's issues. 

"Students of color are more likely to borrow, borrow in greater amounts, and are less likely to be able to pay down their debt than their white peers - even if they graduate.  This disproportionate debt burden can cause significant financial distress and affect their ability to build their path to the middle class, a key goal of the federal financial aid investment," the senators wrote in their letter.

"African-American and Latino students still owe more than 100 percent of their loan balance after 12 years of college entry, even if they complete a degree. White students, meanwhile, owe anywhere between 47 to 70 percent of their loan balance depending on the credential they obtained. Even among bachelor's degree graduates, the African-American-white debt gap more than triples after graduation, due to differences in interest accrual, graduate school borrowing, and ongoing deeper issues related to labor market discrimination, racialized economic hardships, and familial wealth," their letter continued. "These outcomes are staggering and unacceptable. As members of Congress, we are committed to doing better for these students and ask for your assistance in defining specific proposals the federal government can take to address these disparities."

The full text of the letter is available here.