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A new study finds that historically black colleges are charged more money to issue bonds than white schools, even if they are equally strong financially.

Inside Higher Ed reports on a new research paper that examined thousands of bonds issued by colleges and universities, and how much the schools paid to issue those bonds. It found that historically black colleges consistently pay higher costs to borrow money, compared to other schools that have the same credit rating—meaning the difference can only be explained by, uh.... you be the judge. Here’s the abstract:

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pay more in underwriting fees to issue tax-exempt bonds, compared to similar, non-HBCU schools. This appears to reflect higher deadweight costs of finding willing buyers: the effect is three times larger in the Deep South, where racial animus has historically been the highest. School attributes or credit quality explain almost none of the effects. For example, identical differences are observed between HBCU and non-HBCU bonds: 1) having AAA credit ratings, and 2) insured by the same company, even prior to the Financial Crisis of 2008. HBCU-issued bonds are also more expensive to trade in the secondary market, and when they do, sit in dealer inventory longer.

Surely there is a good explanation for this.