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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

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.

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