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How Student Loan Debt Weighs The Heaviest on Latina Students

Janet Cruz Padrón

As Latinas continue to make historic workforce, educational and political gains, they also continue to face unique economic vulnerabilities that pose seismic threats to their financial security. From student loan debt to racial wealth gaps, they’ve had to navigate increasing demands on their cash flow while often having less of it to begin with. While not the type to sit around and wait for progress and prosperity to arrive, Latinas will instead fiercely search for opportunities that can mean a better quality of life for themselves and for their families. Yet, these opportunities often come with a big price tag.

Education has long been regarded as a great equalizer. But despite tremendous strides on the educational front, Latinas continue to play catch-up when it comes to wealth and wages. According to research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, as Hispanic women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap compared to white men actually increases. Check out these even more shocking facts + figures:

• The largest dollar gap (more than $17 an hour), occurs for workers with more than a college degree.

 

• Even Hispanic women with an advanced degree earn less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree.

 

• White non-Hispanic men with only a college degree are paid, on average, $7.53 more than Latinas with an advanced degree.

Higher paying jobs often require higher forms of education and Latinas have proven they can rise to the challenge. According to a report on U.S. Latinas by NBCUniversal, Millennial Latinas with an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree grew 70% over the past two decades. Yet, with a deeply embedded wage gap at play, modern mujeres (women) have had to rely more heavily on student loan debt, and riskier forms of student debt to fund the educational opportunities that could potentially lead to higher levels of personal and professional advancement.

In a 2019 Statistical Briefing by Unidos US, it was reported that among major debt categories, Latino families witnessed the largest increases in educational debt between 2007 and 2016. While only 14% of Latino families held educational debt in 2007, close to 20% had acquired educational debt by 2016. With nearly one in three (31.4%) of Latino GenZ and 30.8% of Latino Millennials grappling with student loans, this crisis-level student debt has had the power to not only challenge our immediate economic survival, but also hinder our long-term asset building capacity.

For Latinx families who are already disadvantaged by generational pay and wealth disparities, carrying the disproportionate burden of student debt can leave them and their families more likely to experience negative financial events after graduation such as loan default, higher interest rate payments, and higher graduate school debt balances. With rising tuition costs outpacing inflation and wage growth, debt-financing higher education will undoubtedly equate to needing to hustle harder and longer just to stay afloat. With student loan debt in 2020 at nearly $1.6 trillion, there has never been a more critical time for Latinas to understand all of their options both in choosing student loans and choosing how to repay them.

Empowering and Supporting Latinx borrowers

Seeking out the products and services that can help shave numerical digits and years off of student loan bills can be a game changer. From helping Latinas find their best and lowest repayment plans, while checking to see if they qualify for student loan forgiveness programs, Chipper will truly become a modern mujer’s (woman’s) student loan sidekick! Chipper’s founder is Latinx too and understands first-hand the very real and oppressive challenges the Latinx community can face when dealing with student loans. Because of this, Chipper is dedicated to getting Latinx and POC on the path toward being debt-free of student loans. 

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