Student debt is “a fact of life for students of color if they want to attain higher education,” said Mark Huelsman, associate director, policy and research, at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. That’s the case if they attend public colleges and even public, two-year colleges, he added. “The bigger problem is that the payoff to a college degree is lower for students of color than it is for white students,” Huelsman said.
That’s in part because students of color are more concentrated among less-selective schools with fewer resources to get students to and through college. As Huelsman puts it, these open access, regional public colleges are “fighting this battle with one hand tied behind their back.”