The Squeeze: The Effect of Rising Student Loans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities on African American Voter Participation

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Abstract Summary

For the first time in history, the aggregate student loan debt in the United States has surpassed the total credit card debt. Furthermore, the amount of federal tax dollars allocated towards funding postsecondary education has remained the same over the last thirty years. Research has shown that the ability to finance one’s education is a primary determinant of whether or not students remain enrolled. Graduation rates are important because scholars note that one’s level of education can predict civic engagement. This paper looks at the historically black colleges and universities that receive the highest and the lowest amounts of federal grant money for students to see if there is a correlation between school funding level and graduation rates. Based on the findings for targeted voting districts in the past two presidential elections, it appears that student loan debt has a negative impact on civic participation in areas with historically black colleges and universities.

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Political Science

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