STUDY: Student Loan Debt Keeps Black and Latinx Aspiring Teachers Out of Classrooms

By Shani Saxon Jul 10, 2019

The Center for American Progress released a report on Tuesday (July 9) that shows evidence of a direct connection between the lack of diversity in the teaching profession and the impact of student loan debt on Black and Latinx college graduates. 

The authors of the report point out clear barriers for Black and Latinx grads who desire careers as educators. According to the research, “studies have shown that teachers of color, and especially Black teachers, leave the profession at a higher rate than their White peers.” One crucial reason why they are often unable to maintain jobs as teachers is “the unequal student loan debt that educators of color face.” From the report:


Studies have shown that Black students are more likely to borrow federal student loan money to finance their undergraduate education. According to a Brookings Institution analysis, before they have even earned their first dollar, Black college graduates already have $7,400 more student loan debt than White graduates. For teachers, that means entering a profession that requires significant education but does not compensate well compared with other professions…. One study found that acquiring student debt reduced the probability that students would pursue lower-salary public interest jobs; this correlation was particularly acute in the education industry.

The study shows that Black teachers in particular may have trouble paying off student loan debts. “Black students who trained to teach had higher median federal student loan debt in 2012 ($26,405) than they had in 2008 ($22,699),” the report indicates. Additionally, Black teachers on average earn less money than their White peers. 

The study points out that “while research demonstrates the importance of increasing teacher diversity, the teacher workforce in public schools is still overwhelmingly White, with 82 percent of teachers identifying as White.” But students of color thrive when they have teachers who look like them—which means would-be teachers aren’t the only ones suffering. Black students score higher on standardized tests, have better attendance and are suspended less often when they have at least one teacher of the same race.

Read the full report.