National Institute on Aging

Several Private HBCUs Have the Highest Average Student Loan Debt in the Nation

Many past studies have documented the student loan debt crisis in the African American community. The huge amount of debt accumulated by Black students in higher education even impacts the racial wealth gap many years down the road after students graduate from college.

A new study by Student Loan Hero finds that students at private historically Black colleges and universities tend to be among the students who accumulate the most debt. Four HBCUs were among the top 10 schools where parents take on the most PLUS loan debt, and eight were in the top 50.

Spelman College, the highly prestigious liberal arts educational institution for Black women in Atlanta, had the second-highest average loan debt. The report found Spelman “had an average parent PLUS loan origination of $16,227 per student age 24 and under. What’s more, more than 47 percent of Spelman undergraduates had a parent who borrowed loans to cover their education — and among the parents who did borrow, the average size of the loan was $34,223 in the 2017-2018 academic year.”

The college or university with the fourth-highest average loan was Clark Atlanta University, where the average loan per student age 24 and under was $13,066. Morehouse College, another HBCU in Atlanta was in fifth place and Hampton University in Virginia had the seventh-highest average loan debt.

The report explains that “HBCUs tend to have smaller endowments than other colleges, which can lead to less financial aid and fewer scholarship opportunities. Given this reality, combined with the racial wealth gap in the U.S., it’s unfortunate but not surprising that parents have to take on greater debt to send their children to these schools.”


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