Giving Compass' Take:

• Nicole Lynn Lewis explains how excessive college debt for Black student parents is yet another brick of injustice in the racist foundation of U.S. higher education.

• How have systems of oppression forced Black parents into deeper debt than other American students? What can we do to research effective strategies to combat the injustices facing Black student parents?

• Learn about how Black student unions can help deconstruct racist systems in U.S. education.

In recent years, as U.S. student loan debt climbed to $1.6 trillion, the country has finally begun to talk about the punishing financial costs of obtaining a college degree. But the singular toll on students like me — Black parents — continues to go largely unremarked upon.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Black students who are raising children borrow an average of $18,100 for college, compared with an average of $13,500 among all students.

We’re not talking about this crisis within a crisis in part because we don’t talk about student parents in general. That’s because we cling to an outdated view of who college students are —  young people on the cusp of adulthood with few responsibilities. But we know from an analysis of federal data that nationally, one in five college students is parenting, more than a third of Black college students are parents, and nearly half of all Black female undergraduates are mothers.

As the country undergoes a period of historic racial reckoning, with nearly every sector of society examining its role in racial injustice, higher education needs to do the same. Colleges and universities must look closely at why the burden of student debt falls disproportionately on Black parents. We need to name the racist policies baked into our postsecondary system that contribute to this unequal burden. And we need to acknowledge the oppressive policies that make it unnecessarily difficult for parents of color to earn a degree and to do so without the anchor of crushing debt. Only then can we create and implement policies that support Black families on their journey to opportunity and prosperity.

Read the full article about Black student parents by Nicole Lynn Lewis at The Hechinger Report.