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Power Station

Aug 5, 2019

The numbers are staggering: 70% of American college graduates carry student debt and our outstanding national student debt level now exceeds $1.5 trillion. A new report, Quicksand: Borrowers of Color and the Student Debt Crisis, authored by Center for Responsible Lending CRL) and National Association for Colored People (NAACP), describes the scope of the problem, identifies which communities are most impacted and recommends systemic reforms. While debt is a shared challenge for American families it disproportionately affects students of color. In fact, 85% of African American students carry student debt. And the implications of this debt are clear. Debt impacts which jobs borrowers take, communities they live in, schools their children attends and delays home purchases by 7 years. Ashley Harrington, CRL’s Senior Policy Council and co-author of Quicksand, speaks to Power Station about how our national narrative about education as a pathway for advancement is at odds with the lived experience of students who are not wealthy and White. If access to education is a national value, why has there been a steady disinvestment by the federal government in public colleges? Why are HBCUs inadequately funded, and why are private colleges allowed to target students of color, veterans and women and operate in an unregulated and predatory manner. The opportunity for higher education to lessen the racial wealth gap is undermined by federal policies that enable private colleges to manipulate their students and loan servicing that makes repayment almost impossible. Quicksand offers solutions and ways for us to support those solutions. The include improved repayment options, strengthening servicing standards and oversight, and access to debt free education. Our voices matters and we need to use them.