LUBBOCK, Texas– Minority students at Texas Tech expressed concern on Monday after hearing the Biden Administration’s plans to bring $10,000 in relief to all federal student loan borrowers.
First reported in the Washington Post on May 27, these plans come “after months of internal deliberations over how to structure loan forgiveness for tens of millions of Americans” with an ever-increasing $1.6 trillion in student debt nationwide.
The article said Biden’s announcement was put on hold in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, giving advocates more time to criticize the plans.
A few minority students attending Texas Tech declined to comment on the record, but junior Bethany Justice did.
“I went to community college for two years in an attempt to save up and then when I finally landed on Tech, I realized I was never going to be able to save up enough to get here debt free,” Justice said. “I was so depressed.”
She said many minorities, including herself, need more relief than what Biden’s plan would offer.
Without extra support, the minority students EverythingLubbock.com spoke with said they fear that they will have to put their life dreams on hold, like starting a family.
“I’ve kind of given up the idea that I will be able to afford a house. I’ve kind of just accepted that… if I want to pursue being a therapist,” Justice shared, adding it’s a problem that some white borrowers may never face.
The socioeconomic disparities she discussed are real, with the average Texan owing roughly $33,000 in student loan debt, according to the Student Borrower Protection Center in 2020. Minority borrowers owe, on average, around $8,000 more than white Texans, the center explained.
To add to these findings, a 2019 article by Dallas News reported, “public institutions with the highest averages of student debt in Texas were those that had higher rates of Black and Latino student enrollment.”
Justice doesn’t qualify for some of the major federal student aid programs like FASFA, and said because she is Latina, she has struggled to get private loans.
“You almost have to prove yourself as Hispanic in order to get them. It’s much more difficult than people think,” she shared.
Already $17,000 in student debt, Justice said her career goals require grad school.
Her family stepped up to help and is working harder than ever, she explained.
“Luckily, my brother doesn’t want to go to college or we might be royally screwed,” Justice joked.
Texas “holds the second-highest student loan debt in the nation, now totaling more than $101 billion,” according to a 2019 report.
The same report highlighted solutions, including: “increased and inclusive investment in higher education, such as federal and state partnerships that drive down the cost of college for students, equitable apprenticeship and work-based learning programs, and need-based financial aid.”
Justice said there are other courses of actions to consider when helping minorities like herself get out of and even prevent student loan debt.
“Maybe a higher minimum wage… maybe [make] college less expensive… maybe we make the interest less- like have a cap or something like that. I think there are ways we can bring people up [while] bringing the debt down and kind of meet somewhere in the middle,” she said hopefully.
Several organizations recognize the need for assistance and contribute to scholarships, grants and programs that help pay off student loan debt or forgive loans.
Here are a few resources: