We are excited to announce that, thanks to funding and support from the TIAA Institute, we are embarking on a National Study on Black Student Loan Debt. This research, which will center on the voices of Black borrowers, will be done in partnership with Dr. Jalil Bishop of the University of Pennsylvania. The study will enable us to better understand the lived experiences of Black borrowers, so we can design policy solutions to address their needs.


Numerous quantitative studies show that there is a serious Black student debt crisis, and clarifying the problem is the first step to fixing it. That’s why we convened a panel of higher-education experts for a Hill briefing on this issue – excerpts of the ideas they presented there were featured in The Washington Post – and compiled a Black student debt essay series for The Hechinger Report and Ed Trust’s Higher Education Equity Lens blog, in which Black scholars break down the causes of the crisis and propose potential solutions. It’s a start, but to find the right policy solutions, we also need a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of the people struggling the most with student debt. We must talk to Black borrowers, so our policy recommendations are informed by their needs and experiences. Our study will help answer the questions quantitative data alone cannot: How are Black students experiencing the debt crisis? And what is fueling this Black student debt crisis? The critical importance of these questions has been reinforced by the additional financial challenges and stress that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on Black communities.

If you:

  1. Identify as Black or of African Ancestry
  2. Have student loan debt

Then we want to hear from you. Start by completing the survey below. Everyone who completes the survey can choose to enter a raffle for 1 of 10 $200 gift cards.

At the end of the survey you can sign-up to be chosen for a video interview. Anyone completing the full interview will receive $50.

For Questions Regarding the Study, Contact:

Dr. Jalil Mustaffa Bishop (Principal Investigator)
University of Pennsylvania -Vice Provost Postdoctoral Scholar
[email protected]

Research Advisory Board

To help guide us through the research process, we have formed a research advisory board of esteemed Black student debt experts.

Dr. Fenaba R. Addo
Visiting Assistant Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy
Affiliate Professor of the Samuel Dubois Cook Center for Social Equity

Joanna K. Darcus
Staff Attorney, Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project at the National Consumer Law Center

Qierra Doss
Student at Middle Tennessee State University and founder of Grads Help Grads Initiative

Dr. Darrick Hamilton
Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University

Ashley Harrington
Federal Advocacy Director and a Senior Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending

Dr. Constance Iloh
Assistant Professor at the University of California-Irvine

Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom
Associate Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University
Faculty Affiliate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

Lodriguez V. Murray
Sr. Vice President, Public Policy & Government Affairs
United Negro College Fund


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