According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, in 1993 black graduates were pretty much as likely to be employed four years after receiving a degree as white graduates (90 percent versus 89 percent). However, in the 2008 cohort, black graduates’ employment rate drops to 72 percent, with white graduates at 83 percent.
The report also shows that black graduates are currently also unfairly burdened by student debt. “After four years, the gap between black and white borrowers is nearly $25,000 on average.”
The report attributes these changes to “historical discrimination (leading to low parental wealth), ongoing racial bias in the labor market, or predatory recruitment by for-profit institutions,” meaning that this change isn’t just a “debt gap” but a symptom of systemic racism.
In Georgia, the discrimination can be seen at many levels of the college payment process. Georgia Budget and Policy Institute senior education policy analyst Claire Suggs found “that HOPE Scholarship money disproportionately goes to white and Asian-American students, and disproportionately less to African American and Hispanic students.
“Twenty percent of black students and 36 percent of Hispanic students receive either a HOPE Scholarship, or the Zell Miller Scholarship.” Although whites students make up just over half of the student population, 64 percent of students who get the HOPE scholarship are white and 78 percent of the Zell Miller Scholars are white.
Scholarship money also goes disproportionately to middle- and upper-income students. Low-income students now make up about 48 percent of students in the university system, but only 30 percent of low-income students receive either the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship.
But unfortunately, students of color and low-income students are not getting their share of scholarships, leaving many to choose between forgoing a college education and seeking predatory loans. The result is that poverty continues to grow while tuition continues to skyrocket.