Student Debt is Heavier for African Americans

Using R to visualize disparities in student debt and college attainment

Data suggests student debt bites twice.

First, stalling wealth creation.

Second, if it prevents people from finishing college, this further sets back wealth creation.

Previously, I examined differences in college degree attainment, between White, Black and Hispanic Americans.

The Widening Gap [1] lead to a hypothesis:

Wealth inequality is positively related to the widening gap in college degree attainment among the three groups.

Data on Families with Student Loan Debt allows us to indirectly support or contradict our hypothesis.

Here are the results.

African American families are shouldering more student debt over the years than Hispanic or White Families [2].

Examining the widening gap in college attainment and families with student debt loans found a strong relationship for Black Americans families (r = 0.85) and moderately strong relationship for Hispanic Americans families (r = 0.66). [3][4]

Still exploratory, we found loose support for the idea that wealth inequality was related to the widening gap in college attainment. With debt being an important factor in wealth creation.

A hypothesis is never “proven”, only supported or contradicted.

However, even loosely supported hypothesis, can help us pose more informed questions.

Like how and why African American families shoulder more student loan debt over the years than White families and how this affects whether they finish college.

Data sources

  1. Nine Charts about Wealth Inequality in America (Updated)
  2. High school completion and bachelor’s degree attainment — dataset by nces

Data-Informed People Decisions

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