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Report: High Rates of Student Debt in NC Rural and Minority Communities

Rural and minority communities in North Carolina face disproportionately high rates of student debt. (dodgertonskillhause/
Rural and minority communities in North Carolina face disproportionately high rates of student debt. (dodgertonskillhause/
February 22, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is proposing free college tuition for students, but unless or until that policy is put in place, many North Carolinians are struggling with student debt.

That's according to an analysis of Experian credit data released by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Their map shows particularly high rates of student debt in non-metropolitan areas where incomes are lower.

Research analyst Kavya Vaghul says the analysis also shows that minorities are disproportionately affected.

"Middle-class minorities, the people who are taking out debt to go to college but haven't been able to find jobs post-graduation or don't have sufficient family wealth to pay it back, are the ones who are hurt most by delinquency," says Vaghul.

The analysis examined the number of student loans, deferred loans, the average balance on open loans and the average monthly payment. Nationwide, more than 42 million Americans owe a total of $1.3 trillion in student debt.

According to Edvisors, a group of websites about planning and paying for college, the average student loan debt at graduation is just over 35,000 dollars. Vaghul says that's difficult to pay back, particularly for those struggling to land a job.

"The minority students, the African-American and Latino students who are coming out with debt, also face some really, really strong labor-market discrimination," she says. "So when they're coming out of college, they're less likely to get jobs."

A study from the organization" target="parent">Young Invincibles, which advocates for young people in the issues of education, jobs and health care - looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census and found African-American students need to complete two more levels of education to have the same probability of getting a job as their white peers.

Stephanie Carson/Judy Steffes, Public News Service - NC