Loan Debt Harms the Mental Health of Black Borrowers

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A new research paperreleased today found that student loan debt is impacting the mental health of black student borrowers.

The memoir, published by the Education Trust, is the second in a four-part series based on the National Black Student Debt Study, a survey of nearly 1,300 black borrowers and 100 in-depth interviews. It revealed that 64% of respondents said student debt had harmed their mental health. Even among students enrolled in income-driven repayment plans, the majority said loans were their “main source of financial stress” and had negative effects on mental health.

The memoir shares accounts of black borrowers who said in interviews that student loan debt had driven some of them to depression, stress, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

A borrower named Yvonne said defaulting on her loans and having her wages garnished made her depressed. She borrowed $58,000.

“It was a very dark time in my life,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t fully supporting my family because I wasn’t getting a full paycheck. But, again, it was because of my own decision. So for me it was a double edged sword. I became depressed. And I’m a very transparent person. I drank more then, I will honestly say. And I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t know how to fix it. »

The brief recommends forgiving at least $50,000 of federal student debt, regardless of income, loan type, or degree level. (Eighty percent of study participants recommended the federal government cancel all student debt.) It also suggests doubling the Pell Grant, making public colleges free through partnerships between the federal government and states and reform income-based loan repayment plans.

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