Supporting Students of Color and Addressing Racial Disparities in Higher Education: What Our Partners and Allies Think

Higher education is viewed as the great equalizer when it comes to improving the economic success of communities of color. For graduates, a degree greatly improves the probability for higher incomes. However, it is the reality for many student loan borrowers—especially borrowers of color—that the costs of higher education create an unequal playing field when it comes to accessing the benefits of a college degree. This is even before we consider the unequal burden of student loan debt facing students of color, who find themselves struggling at the intersection of rising college costs, higher educational demands in the job market, and stagnant earnings even after getting a degree.

Recently, U.S. Senators Doug Jones, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Catherine Cortez Masto sent out a request seeking input on how to best address the problems facing students of color as Congress seeks to update the Higher Education Act of 1965. The request was answered by several of our partners, each giving their recommendations for how to best serve these students and reduce racial disparities in higher education. Some of these recommendations include:

  • investing more in student grants that help eliminate the financial barriers facing many students of color;
  • developing debt-free education programs that improve racial equity in college success;
  • improving the financial aid, student loan repayment, and debt relief programs for borrowers; and
  • increasing institutional accountability and strengthening the regulations around for-profit colleges—an industry that particularly targets veterans and students of color.

In their letter to the senators, our partners identified ways that policymakers can fix many of the problems contributing to the higher financial barriers and student debt burdens facing students of color in our higher education system. You can find the details of their recommendations here:

The organization letters and full recommendations are accessible via hyperlinks.

American Federation of Teachers

The Education Trust

The Center for American Progress: “A Quality Guarantee for Today’s Students: Recommendations to Improve College Accreditation”

National Consumer Law Center

New America: “Supporting Students of Color in Higher Education”

Project on Predatory Student Lending
Cosigned by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center

The Institute for College Access and Success

Veterans Education Success 

Young Invincibles

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