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As a first-generation Brazilian-American woman and college graduate, I know what it is like to be afraid of student loan debt. I like more than 44 million Americans Currently impacted by student debt, student loans had to be taken out to pay not only tuition fees but also the cost of living on campus. After graduating, I struggled to find a sustainable job in my area. My student loans have limited my career choices and my ability to pursue employment opportunities outside of the state.
And while this story is all too common, Latin American and Hispanic borrowers like me have a very different experience than other borrowers. “While working for Student Debt Crisis, I have heard from many people who have had to reorganize their lives around student debts. One story I heard during a virtual listening session for student loan recipients was that of an immigrant single mother. She told us that we came to this country in search of a better future and took out student loans for college. Now, she told us, she is also helping her two grown children to repay their loans. Due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, their working hours have been reduced. She does just enough to support herself and her family. The federal hiatus in paying off student debt has been a lifeline for her, she said, but she worries about what will happen when payments resume.
During the pandemic Latinx Workers were the ethnic group in the United States most likely to have lost jobs, cut hours, or found no work. My experience and that of this mother show how, for millions of Latinx borrowers and families, the stress of student loans only adds to their worries and insecurities. Latinx borrowers with loans are already there more likely than other racial groups to postpone life-changing decisions like getting married and starting a family. Instead, they are forced to put their life and dreams on hold and begin a cycle that contributes to the steady increase racial wealth gapwhere the median net worth of white families is about eight times that of Hispanic families.