The latest reports show that more than 44 million Americans owe a total of $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. It’s the biggest source of debt in the American household after mortgages.
And this is not just a problem for wealthy, white degree-holders and families. Student loan debt shapes the labor market and contributes to growing economic inequality and the racial wealth gap in the U.S.
To put this all into context, WORT producer Richelle Wilson takes a deep dive into the roots of the student loan debt crisis and why it matters with sociologist Louise Seamster.
Louise Seamster is assistant professor of sociology and African American studies at the University of Iowa. She studies race and economic inequality, particularly in cities. Some of her latest research examines racial disparities in debt and debt markets, including “predatory inclusion” in student debt and the different meaning of debt for black and white families.