Burden of student debt heavier for minorities after Supreme Court ruling

The burden of debt just got heavier again for millions of Americans, and especially for people of color and indigenous people, who historically carry higher student loan balances.

A carefree summer day on the University of Minnesota campus came with a caveat for a lot of the students and graduates.

Rising sophomore Marty Micheli planned to work his way through school, but he also wanted to take advantage of student loan forgiveness to help build a nest egg or ease his summer work schedule.

"I don't want to be caught as like the only dummy who paid for their loans when everyone else is are getting covered by the government," Micheli said.

President Biden’s plan would’ve erased an estimated $400 billion in student loan debt with $10,000 canceled for most people and 43 million Americans eligible for the program.

About three out of every four jobs added in the last decade have required a bachelor’s degree, and college costs are rising.

But Susuga Leiataua Dr. Jon Peterson says this court decision will scare some young people away from college, especially people of color and indigenous.

"I think enrollment will continue to decline and that has an impact on their ability long term to earn wealth over the entirety of a professional career," said the senior fellow with Minnesota Education Equity Partnership.

On average, Black college graduates carry almost twice as much student loan debt as their white counterparts.

Dr. Peterson says alongside the court’s Thursday ruling banning affirmative action in college admissions, this is a one-two punch for people fighting for equity in education.

And University of Minnesota law professor Jill Hasday says it may not be the last time this 6-3 majority conservative Supreme Court upends decades of legal precedent.

"This case specifically is about student loans, but more generally it's about rolling back the power of the administrative state, which has been a conservative legal priority for a number of decades," Hasday said.

President Biden pledged to use other tools to ease the student debt burden, including by revising a loan repayment program that’s based on monthly income.

Federal student loan borrowers would have to pay back less money on their debt and they’d be allowed to stop payments after between 10 and 20 years, no matter how much they still owe.