Study Shows Black Students Spend More to Become Social Workers

HYANNIS – A recent study from the Council on Social Work Education showed that African American students spend more money to become social workers than white students. 

Dr. Darla Spence Coffey, President and CEO of the CSWE, said that the nation-wide survey is the fourth annual report that the organization performs of recent social work graduates. 

“This past year, we actually asked an additional question about their debt load, and were surprised to see that there was such a stark difference between black and brown students versus white students. And this isn’t just in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Coffey. 

On average, the debt from social work education was $66,000 for African Americans versus $45,000 for white students.

For Hispanics, the debt was $53,000 versus $48,000 for non-Hispanics.

The council said that these numbers are notably high when the starting mean salary for new social workers is only $47,100. 

Coffey said that social workers are a key part of multiple different sectors, including educational systems, child welfare systems, healthcare, and more.

She said that the organization aims to have the population of social workers be reflective of the diverse communities that they work in.

“Our student population is actually much more diverse than lots of other healthcare professions. The fact that black and brown students are accumulating more debt is certainly concerning us. Then we look at things like 46 percent of our students are first-generation college, and that’s even higher among black students and Latino students,” said Coffey.

She said that first-generation students are also less likely to have access to resources, both financial and otherwise, that would help them navigate higher education and get their degrees.

“These are students who are much more likely to take on additional loans and debt on their way to getting their first professional degree.”

The full report from the CSWE can be found at the organization’s website, where the Council also provides tips and resources for prospective social workers.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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