This blog post represents the seventh in our series on student loan debt. All previous blog posts can be found on our primary website. In our previous blog post, we started looking at trends in student loan repayment of beginning balances. Using the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard data, we found that the average balance owed at each of the four checkpoints in the Scorecard data was 97.6% in Year 1, 89.5% in Year 5, 64.9% in Year 10, and 40.6% in Year 20. One of the observations from these data was that repayment of student loans may differ based on institutional type and demographic characteristics. We explore these differences further in this blog post.
In the visualizations below, we have repayment rates disaggregated by the percentage of students who identify as either Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino. We refer to this group as Underrepresented Minority (URM) students. Campuses are grouped into quartiles based on the percentage of URM students in the undergraduate population. Texas public four-year universities are highlighted with their name abbreviation and color associated with university system membership. The three tabs at the top of the visualization show data for checkpoints at 5, 10, and 20 years after students leave an institution.
NOTE: Due to the volume of information in each visualization below, we recommend that you click the “Full Screen” button in the bottom-right corner to enhance viewing of the data. Also, clicking in the “Select System” box at the far-right will allow you to highlight all of the institutions within one of the public university systems in Texas.
As the industry of higher education continues to press forward in addressing concerns around diversity, equity, and inclusion, the data related to repayment of student loan balances show that students from institutions with higher levels of underrepresented minorities on campus tend to struggle to repay student loan debt. The delta between the median percentage owed in Year 5 for the first quartile with the lowest percentage of URM students (87.3%) and fourth quartile with the highest percentage of URM students (125.6%) is 38 percentage points. The difference between the median for the first quartile (35.7%) and fourth quartile (79%) actually increased to over 43 percentage points in Year 20. This means that the gap between these groups is growing over time, as opposed to shrinking. Given the status of these gaps, the ability to repay student loans is one factor that needs to be included in multi-faceted conversations about college access and affordability.