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

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!