A recent Gallup poll found that in the last 14 years, around half of black college students graduated with student loan debt exceeding $25,000. Only 35 percent of white students had loan debt that high.
Often the only way for black students to afford a college education is by taking on these loans. Four out of five black students take student loans to attend college and typically have nearly $4,000 more student loan debt compared to white students, according to a 2013 report by The Center for American Progress.
There is deep inequality here in the U.S. In 2013, the median income for black households was $34,600, and the poverty rate is 27 percent, nearly three times that of white Americans.
Michelle Obama visited Booker T. Washington high school in Atlanta in September. She had an important message to deliver: Do not drop out of school. Go to college. Get out of poverty. Giving up on education is not an option.
President Obama admits that loans helped finance his and the First Lady's education, and the president tried to convey to America's youth that he sympathizes with the burden of student loans -- they just paid off their student loans ten years ago. He also shares that he and Michelle are saving money for their daughters' tuition.
Higher education has long been considered the key to escaping poverty, but it doesn't come without a price tag attached. For black students, the cost is often higher than their white classmates. It is unfortunate that the burden of loan debt often follows students for decades after their graduation. This cycle only reinforces the income and racial inequalities so prevalent today in our country.