Large Numbers of Black Students Experience Distress Over the Cost of Higher Education

Micere-KeelsA new study led by Micere Keels, an associate professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago, finds that many Black and other minority college students suffer from anxiety over worrying about being able to pay their bills in order to stay enrolled in higher education.

Dr. Keels surveyed a large group of Black and Latino college students three times over the course of their first-year in college. At each juncture, Dr. Keels report that about 35 percent of the students “reported having difficulty paying their bills, being upset that they did not have enough money and being concerned that they would not be able to afford to complete their degree.”

Dr. Keels found that students who experienced a high level of financial anxiety fell into three groups. First were students who enrolled who knew there was unmet financial need and knew they would have to take a job or find other financial support. Another group thought their financial needs were covered but then did not receive the anticipated funding. A third group believed that financial aid would cover all their costs but discovered that living expenses, book fees, and other costs were not accounted for. Dr. Keels also found that many Black and Latino students who experienced financial distress were also likely to develop depression symptoms.

Dr. Keels joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 2004. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta and holds a master’s degree in psychology from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and a Ph.D. in human development and social policy from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.


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