Racial Disparity and Student Debt

Racial Disparity and Student Debt

Learn what the latest National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) revealed about students and how they paid for their educations.

An increase in college enrolled “nontraditional” students has long been considered the trend.  These students are considered nontraditional due to characteristics such as racial and ethnic diversity, low-income and first-generation status, age, and attendance status.  However, findings from the recent NPSAS reveal surprising reversals in this trend.  The data showed that the number of first-generation students declined in every sector of higher ed and also revealed that the proportion of older students has been shrinking for years.

The changes in first-generation enrollment can be largely explained by changes in community college enrollment while the reduction of older students can be attributed to a stronger economy.  Analysts note that the number of older students rise when the job market is bad and they turn to higher education as an alternative.

While the NPSAS revealed some surprising reversals in enrollment trends, it also verified the continuation of other enrollment patterns.  For instance, the study found that the proportion of students of color enrolling in undergraduate programs has continued to grow along with the number of part-time students.

The study also indicated that the higher education financial aid system has been falling short in serving students of color, particularly African American students.  Analysis of student loans and debt showed that black students (and their families) are often forced to take out exorbitant loan amounts in order to fund their education.  As many struggle to pay off their debts, this exacerbates the existing racial wealth gap in the United States.  The study concludes with the suggestion that greater financial aid options be offered for students pursuing post-secondary education.

These are some of the findings from the most recent National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).  Looking for a consulting firm with experience working in higher education?  Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc.  We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.