Student Loan Debt Could Hit Blacks the Worst

Before going back to school, make sure your degree will warrant enough to cover your loan payments. 

Posted: 04/04/2012 01:10 PM EDT

For the first time ever, U.S. student loan debt has exceeded $1 trillion, surpassing credit card and auto loan debt.

 

While some may consider student loan debt "good" debt because you don’t have to immediately pay it off, the reality is you still have to pay it off.

 

Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 percent in 10 years. Students may be promised they will have better opportunities after graduation, but with a fragile economic recovery, jobs are not abundant, nor are they promised. Rising loan amounts also increase the financial burden on taxpayers and set the stage for a new economic crisis with African-Americans likely to become the most vulnerable victims.

 

"This high debt amount of education loans, compounded with a soft employment market, is causing much room for concern for African-Americans, who hold the most student loan debt," Andrew Reichert, CEO and founder of Go Financial Aid, tells BET.com.  "Additionally, many minority scholarships have been cut or reduced, causing loans to be the only alternative for financing an education."

 

With some African-American college graduates having almost $100,000 in student loan debt, opportunities to financially get ahead, like buying a house or investing after graduation, may seem impossible.

 

Studies have shown Blacks disproportionately borrow the most because they are more likely to attend private nonprofit or for-profit colleges, as opposed to public four-year colleges.

 

Additionally, 18 percent of recent grads have been forced to turn to a full-time job outside of his or her field of study, and recent graduates are making approximately $36,866 per year in salary, down from $46,500 in 2009, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Because of lower salaries, 17 percent of new grads are dependent on their parents.

 

If you’re looking to make more money, and depend less on your relatives, an advanced degree could be the answer. People with a master’s degree earn about $2.5 million in a lifetime, compared with the $1.2 million, on average, high school graduates make. Persons with professional degrees make approximately $4.4 million.

 

If you’re thinking about heading back to school to make bigger bucks, however, make sure you are mindful about the additional debt incurred.

 

"One of the most important things to consider when it comes to pursuing a professional degree is the expected income upon graduation, as compared to the total cost of attendance," Reichert says. "With the average indebtedness upon graduation breaching $25,000, students can expect to pay around $287 per month in student loan payments. If graduate school requires an additional $50,000 in student loans, the question then becomes if the degree will warrant paying a total of $863 per month upon graduation."

 

President Barack Obama has offered a raft of proposals aimed at fine-tuning the system and making government-issued loan repayments easier, but only you can determine what plan will work best for you. Reichet says minority financial aid is available for African-Americans, and it's important to use a FAFSA Calculator to determine the amount of grants and scholarships for which you might be eligible, before taking out student loans.

 

Reichet suggests getting "as much 'free money' as possible before resorting to student loans."

 

For more financial aid tips visit www.gofinancialaid.com.



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