The amount of student loan debt in the United States is $1.8 trillion — and counting. Education has never been more expensive.
The student loan crisis has affected a lot of students, but statistics show that it disproportionately affects the Latino community.
Around 72% of Latinx students take out loans to attend college, compared with 66% of white students, according to a 2020 study from the Student Borrower Protection Center, a nonprofit organization focused on ending student debt. The study uses the term Latinx, intended to be a gender-neutral way to describe the Latino community.
The study also found that 12 years after starting college, the median Latinx borrower still owes 83% of their initial student loan balance while the median white borrower owes only 65% of their original balance.
This disparity can be attributed to a number of reasons including the lack of knowledge of the financial aid system, fear of accumulating more debt or the lack of support experienced during college and beyond.
Why Latino students are afraid of debt
UnidosUS and the University of North Carolina’s School of Law conducted a survey of Latino students who began but didn’t complete a college degree. One of their findings is that those Latino students who grew up in economically vulnerable communities see college debt as a financial burden that can impact their family’s financial security and stability.
Amanda Martinez, senior policy analyst for the education policy team at Unidos, who worked on this report, said, “A lot of respondents said, I saw my cousin or I saw my sister try to go to college but then racked up debt and maybe didn’t complete their degree and then still had that debt, so I’m just afraid to enter into that same journey.”