Hillary Clinton's focus on preferring entrepreneurs for student loan debt forgiveness may help endear the Democratic presidential candidate to the millennial voters she needs. But her plan to single out budding innovators for a break does little to address the needs of many black and Latino college students who are struggling to deal with what has become a crisis of paying off funds borrowed for college education.
Under Clinton's proposal, students who graduate as entrepreneurs will be able to defer paying their loans for three years. A campaign aide told Mic the graduates would be able to "put their federal student loans into a special status" that would stop interest from accruing for that period. The apparent goal is to relieve any burden of student debt that might impede a business from getting off the ground.
Clinton's official campaign plan to confront and potentially eliminate student debt includes "every student and family," but her technology-centric speech Tuesday in Denver was specifically aimed at young entrepreneurs, Time reported. The makeup of America's entrepreneurs, however, lopsidedly skews white and male, two demographics that historically haven't exactly been hurting for money when it comes to college. That would suggest that Clinton's plan for entrepreneurs may effectively neglect those who need financial aid the most and have disproportionate trouble repaying their loan debt.
In the context of Clinton's proposal for graduating entrepreneurs, here are five questions and answers about student loan debt, forgiveness and the demographics of those who borrow funds for higher education.
What Does the Average Entrepreneur Look Like?
Nearly 80 percent of the country's entrepreneurs are white, Inc. reported. That's compared to 11 percent Latino, 9 percent black and 4 percent Asian. But all of that seems to be on the verge of a sea change.
The nation's newest entrepreneurs are apparently a much more diverse bunch, with more than 40 percent of all innovators being black, Latino or Asian, according to a 2015 report by the Kaufman Index. Blacks account for fewer people in the sector than Latinos and Asians, but each minority group of entrepreneurs has seen double-digit growth since the 1997 Kaufman Index report. Immigrants of all kinds are disproportionately represented, at 28.5 percent.
How Many People Have Student Loan Debt?
Approximately 40 percent of 20-29 year olds — also known as millennials — need to repay money borrowed for college, according to data provided by the Urban Institute. Overall, 34 percent of African-Americans graduate with student loan debt compared with Hispanics at 28 percent, 19 percent of Asians and 16 percent of whites.
But student loan debt isn't limited to just young people. Thirty percent of people 30-39 years old are also saddled by the same debt; 19 percent of 40-49 year olds; 12 percent of 50-59 year olds; and 4 percent of those 60 and over.
What Is the Average Student Loan Debt?
Students in the Class of 2015 graduated with a record debt average of $35,000, which makes them the most indebted of all time, the Wall Street Journal reported. This year, the projected student loan debt load is more than $37,000, according to the Student Loan Hero website. Overall, student loan debt is up more than $10,000 since 1989. In comparison, students graduating in 1993 had an average loan debt of less than $10,000.
Who Borrows the Most Student Loans?
A whopping 80 percent of African-American and low-income students take out loans to pay for college, Diverse Issues in Higher Education reported. In contrast, 63 percent of whites and Latinos borrow money to fund their educations.
The key metric here is the dropout rate: 39 percent of black students and 38 percent of those from low-income backgrounds with student loans quit college before graduation. The reason why? Even with the loans, nearly 70 percent of black students still can't fully fund their college education. Fewer than half of their white counterparts make the same claim. Even more affluent black people have more student loan debt than their white, Latino and Asian counterparts, NBC News reported.
How Confident Are Graduates They Can Repay Student Loans?
There is worry across the board over the ability of student loan debtors to repay what they owe, but blacks and Latinos are more likely to fret about it, the Urban Institute reported. Sixty-four percent of African-Americans and 62 percent of Latinos, respectively, worry about it, while 53 percent of whites and 50 percent of Asians report such worries.