Women of Color Carry the Largest Burden of Student Loan Debt in the U.S.

Women of color Student loan debt BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of BELatina.

It’s no secret to anyone that the economic blow of the pandemic has yet to be felt. Little by little, we have felt inflation strangling our pocketbooks and family budgets.

This is particularly true for women of color.

A new report released by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) found that women of color disproportionately shoulder two-thirds of the $1.7 trillion in federal student loan debt.

CRL, a policy research group focused on consumer lending, used data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and a focus group of 33 diverse women who said they lost or quit their jobs during the pandemic.

The CRL found that women have less job security today than before the pandemic and that any gains experienced by the economy in 2021 fell unevenly on white people, particularly white men.

The report concluded that women of color are more than twice as likely as white men to have more than $50,000 in student loan debt.

CRL’s research sought to analyze how women’s finances have changed over the past two years and what implications these changes have had on women’s long-term financial well-being and ability to repay their student loan debt.

“This research fills in a gap in academic literature by centering the perspectives and experiences of female borrowers,” the report reads.

The CRL found that, due to increased childcare responsibilities and the high-touch, low-wage nature of many female occupations, women of color and women in jobs that could not go the distance have less job security today than before the pandemic.

Similarly, the report explains that the economic gains achieved through 2021 were not shared equally among racial groups. Women of color continue to struggle financially to pay for necessities.

Despite the pause in student loan payments, debt burdens remain staggering, making repayment more difficult for women of color.

“Recognizing that the COVID-19 crisis has reshaped women’s relationship to work and their ability to save for the future, it is essential to tailor policy solutions that will enable women to meet their short-term financial obligations and not have outstanding student loan debt encumber long-term financial planning,” the CRL recommends.