The aim of this effort is to offer:
- Financial relief from student indebtedness for Black youth who have attended school in Buncombe County or Asheville, NC and are attending or have recently graduated from a University or Community College.
- “Personal Reparations”, an opportunity for individuals to directly contribute financial resources, particularly for those who have personally benefited or who come from families that have benefited from racial discrimination.
The longterm goal is to see tuition free college provided via reparations funding for Black youth who have grown up in Buncombe County or Asheville, North Carolina. This pilot will offer 5 current or past students a financial contribution of $8000 each to cover tuition costs. The initial scholars have been identified by leaders at The State of Black Asheville and My Daddy Taught Me That.
Funding break down:
- $40,000: $8000 each to 5 scholars
- $5000 to the fiscal sponsor organization
- Additional funds will be put towards tuition reparations for additional scholars
The response to this pilot will inform future directions in addressing this matter.
All contributions are tax deductible thanks to the fiscal sponsorship of My Daddy Taught Me That.
(Click this link if you do not see ways to contribute above.)
Why Tuition Reparations?
“Building the Middle Class”
The GI Bill
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill in 1944 with the intent to provide economic, educational, and housing opportunities for generations of veterans. Around 8 million veterans took advantage of federal funding for educational opportunities, yet these opportunities for educational advancement were not equal amongst all veterans. White service members were able to attend college, graduate, and professional schools with few obstacles. In contrast, Black veterans experienced extensive obstacles, limited options, social barriers, and were denied access into many institutions.
“Though Congress granted all soldiers the same benefits theoretically,” writes historian Hilary Herbold, “the segregationist principles of almost every institution of higher learning effectively disbarred a huge proportion of Black veterans from earning a college degree.”
Other federal mandates that reflected segregationist intent contributed to wealth inequality and help explain the discrepancies in Black student debt and other elements of the data below:
- Across the nation and over decades (continuing today), the construction and expansion of the Interstate Highway System intentionally chose routes that demolished Black and impoverished areas. This claiming of assets influences the necessities for student loans.
- Urban Renewal and the Model Cities Program targeted Black, “blighted”, and densely populated areas for razing. Learn about the ways this has impacted Buncombe County and Asheville via the Urban Renewal Impact website.
- Private sector use of decades old Redlining for discrimination in determining interest rates, credit worthiness, and insurability created obstacles to entering the “middle class”.
- Exclusion of agricultural and domestic workers from qualifying for Social Security, thus denying these workers of funds that could increase available wealth for their children’s college tuition.
These and other federal, state and local actions created the world’s most vibrant middle class for whites while simultaneously denied Blacks the ability to accumulate generational wealth that could be used towards education and scholarship. As a result, today’s Student Debt continues to echo the racialized views of the Era of Segregation.
Looking at the data now
According to Education Data Initiative, at the federal level:
- Black and African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than White college graduates.
- Four years after graduation, Black students owe an average of 188% more than White students borrowed.
- Black college attendees have a net worth that is $8,500 less than their White peers.
- Black and African American bachelor’s degree holders have an average of $52,000 in student loan debt.
- 40% of Black graduates have student loan debt from graduate school while 22% of White college graduates have graduate school debt.
- At 46%, Black student borrowers were the most likely to put off buying a home.
- At 43%, Black indebted student borrowers are also the most likely to report having to work more than they would prefer.