Student debt forgiveness helps level the playing field for Latinos

Student debt forgiveness helps level the playing field for Latinos

Student in a bubble holding books and IOUs

Pixabay

The Biden administration kept yet another promise and is canceling up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt and an additional $10,000 if the student was a Pell Grant recipient.

This federal loan forgiveness is expected to impact Latinos even more significantly, allowing about half of all Latinos to have their entire debt forgiven!

The expansion of potential

According to Excelencia in Education, 51% of all Latino undergrads who began their postsecondary education in 2012, had student loans.

It took Carlos Vera nearly a decade to complete his bachelor’s degree in political science from American University. Vera graduated in May 2020 and the financial burdens have been nothing short of soul crushing. He still owes $40,000 in federal and $20,000 in private loans.

“At one point, I was paying up to $900 a month — especially the private ones, because the interest does accrue pretty quickly. $20K will be very helpful,” said Vera.

“That means long term, I’m paying less — and then the second thing is it makes me feel a little bit better about potentially like, you know, going to grad school, or doing other life decisions that I probably couldn’t beforehand.” – Carlos Vera, 2020 college grad

Thinking about more than themselves

A survey out this week from Unidos US, found of the 1,200 Latinos surveyed, 38% had student loan debt and owed an average of $17,000. More than half of the respondents said they’re the first in their family to take on student loans.

Michael Benitez, Ph.D., the vice president of diversity and inclusion at Metro State University Denver, who is also a professor of multicultural education, said loans add to the burden of Latino students.

“Things like taking care of the families, which is real big in the Latinx community, a lot of them have their aunties, tias and tios, abuelas and abuelos, living with them. They have to think about their lives more than just themselves,” Benitez said. “So it [student loan forgiveness] really takes a lot of weight off their cultural shoulders by way of what they have on their plates and their abilities to not have to take on so much. Which increases the likelihood to be successful.”

Debt overshadows everything

A person holds an empty wallet

Pixabay

Student loans are especially constraining for Latinos dealing with their family’s immigration status, or being a first-generation student with English as their second language. Now throw in a pile of debt and the pressure is unrelenting.

The options, pre-Biden, were very limited. Dropping out doesn’t relieve any of the debt but may very well reduce future earnings. Also, those accumulating crippling amounts of loans are less likely to start their own business, buy a house, or go into lower paying professions such as nursing or teaching – both of which America desperately needs.

The student debt has such an important impact on students’ lives that 33% of Latino student borrowers put off marriage and 37% delayed having children because of it. According to the Education Data Initiative, 67% of Latino student borrowers have educational debt.

Daniel Tapia graduated a decade ago with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. His story is a familiar one.

Tapia borrowed $60,000 in private student loans. He’s been making monthly payments since graduation. But, thanks to his 9% interest rate, his debt has actually risen, and after a decade of payments stands at over $85,000, $22,000 of which is owned by the government.

“What I don’t get is if I took out a certain amount, and I paid that amount already, and I still owe more than I originally owed, it’s just nuts. It’s mind-boggling to me that this total amount is not going down. It’s not going away.” – Daniel Tapia, college graduate

Tapia actually had to move back in with his mother because of his crushing student loan balance that only seems to grow. He’s also had to put off saving for a home, saving for retirement and accumulating wealth – three of the main reasons he went to college in the first place.

But wait! It’s socialism!!!!

Ew! Socialism! Keep the socialism AWAY from me! Oh, wait… our public schools and police and firefighters and highways and post office and court system and airports and trains and customs and border patrol and military and street lighting and water system and social security safety net are all government funded so are all “socialism”? Hmmmm…

But when the Trump administration hands out a 1.9 TRILLION dollar tax cut to the wealthy that will allegedly trickle down but has been proven for 40 years NOT to trickle anywhere except the pockets of the greedy CEOs that we kowtow to and subsidize and bail out year after year (Wall Street, the auto industry, billionaires)… well, that’s just the rich taking care of the rich. In fact, America’s wealthiest family, the money-monger Waltons, rely on socialism to subsidize their low-paid Walmart workers with Medicaid and food stamps.

Oh, and look what else just happened!

I bet those farmers are no longer whining about socialism.

The bottom line

If you have student loan debt and want to sign up, go to studentaid.gov and in the section on student loan debt relief, click “Apply Now.” Good luck!

And don’t forget to vote!

 

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