By Nancy Wilberg Ricks
Across the country, young Latinos are breaking stereotypes by enrolling in and graduating from colleges at unprecedented rates, often as first-generation students. Though the future looks bright for a new generation of Latino college graduates seeking to enter the American workforce, one thing has threatened their newfound economic gains—crushing student debt.
If Congress refuses to act by July 1, interest rates on federal student loans will double instantly from 3.4% to 6.8%, creating an even more dangerous burden on those already least able to bear it. Because this represents an unreasonable and unacceptably high cost imposed on millions of young Latino college graduates, we’re teaming up with the advocates at Young Invincibles to urge Congress to invest in dreams, not debt.
At a time when young Hispanic graduates are working to establish new households and break into the middle class, astronomical student loan payments are squeezing their expenses tighter than ever, preventing them from making essential purchases, taking out home mortgages, and investing in their futures.While college loans are nothing new for many Americans, the cohort of graduates who attended college in the years immediately preceding the global financial crisis found themselves paying unprecedented interest rates on private loans. While the average amount of debt for a college graduate in 1990 was about $10,000, today that amount has ballooned to roughly $25,000! This trend is unsustainable, already threatens the livelihoods of millions of young Hispanics, and can’t be allowed to get worse by Congress raising federal loan interest rates.
Fortunately, the issue is far from hopeless, and student advocates are beginning to present solutions. For example, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill that works to bring the amount of student debt under control. Under her plan, Congress would lower interest rates for young graduate borrowers to the same level enjoyed by large banks borrowing from the government: 0.75%. This definitely gives us something to think about. If we’re willing to lend billion-dollar banks money at low rates, why not extend the privilege to those most likely to benefit from it?
Today, join us in telling Congress that it’s time to invest in #DreamsNotDebt and allow young Latinos to be the drivers of a new economic recovery. Join us in saying#DontDoubleMyRate!