Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

Billionaire Robert Smith's pledge to pay off the Morehouse College class of 2019's student loan debt highlighted the disproportionate impact of student debt on African American students.

The big picture: Nearly 400 students at the all-male, historically black college will be relieved of their debt, disqualifying them from the financial hardship many graduates experience. Recent data from the Department of Education shows staggering correlations between student loans and race.

By the numbers:

  • 95% of black students attending a for-profit college took out student loans.
  • Black students are 20% more likely to need federal student loans.
  • 75% of black students who did not complete their program at a for-profit college defaulted within 12 years of entering college.
  • Black students are more likely to owe more in loans 12 years after they acquired that debt.
  • A report found that public higher education lacks resources that support black students from admissions to graduation, per the USC Race and Equity Center.

Yes, but, via the New York Times: Large donations from philanthropists change lives, but Anand Giridharadas, author and critic of large-scale philanthropy, told the Times the gifts can "distract us from the ways in which others in finance are working to cause problems like student debt, or the subprime crisis."

Federal student loan debt forgiveness programs do exist for those who work in the public service sector or who were misled by for-profit schools. Relief can sometimes take years.

Several 2020 candidates have specifically included programs for black and Latin American students when proposing solutions for the student debt crisis.

The bottom line: African American households on average only have $1,700 in accumulated wealth, per a report from the Institute for Policy Studies. At this rate, the disparity has the potential to worsen between racial groups by 2024.

Go deeper

7 hours ago - Podcasts

Facebook boycott organizers share details on their Zuckerberg meeting

Facebook is in the midst of the largest ad boycott in its history, with nearly 1,000 brands having stopped paid advertising in July because they feel Facebook hasn't done enough to remove hate speech from its namesake app and Instagram.

Axios Re:Cap spoke with the boycott's four main organizers, who met on Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives, to learn why they organized the boycott, what they took from the meeting, and what comes next.

Boycott organizers slam Facebook following tense virtual meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civil rights leaders blasted Facebook's top executives shortly after speaking with them on Tuesday, saying that the tech giant's leaders "failed to meet the moment" and were "more interested in having a dialogue than producing outcomes."

Why it matters: The likely fallout from the meeting is that the growing boycott of Facebook's advertising platform, which has reached nearly 1000 companies in less than a month, will extend longer than previously anticipated, deepening Facebook's public relations nightmare.

Steve Scalise PAC invites donors to fundraiser at Disney World

Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s PAC is inviting lobbyists to attend a four-day “Summer Meeting” at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida, all but daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus and contribute $10,000 to his leadership PAC.

Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmakers to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear. The invite for the “Summer Meeting” for the Scalise Leadership Fund, obtained by Axios, makes no mention of COVID-19.