We’re One Step Closer to Making Higher Education More Affordable

By Carmen Orozco-Acosta, Policy Analyst, Education Policy Project, NCLR

GraduationYesterday brought great news for the millions of students across this country that want to go to college, but are concerned about the ever-increasing price tag.  President Obama announced a new plan to help make college more affordable to the middle class, an important move from his Administration which has undertaken a number of efforts to make higher education attainable for all Americans.  The skyrocketing cost of higher education is a problem that affects all students, but hits the Latino community especially hard, because our youth are often first-generation college students and come from low-income households.

A college education has become a baseline credential to compete in an increasingly competitive job market.  Students who want to pursue a college degree should be able to, without accruing a mountain of debt.  Unfortunately, realistic concerns about post-college graduation debt often deter students from pursuing higher education.  In a country that values education and treats it as the great equalizer, that frankly shouldn’t be the case   Continue reading

Invest in Dreams, Not Debt! Student Debt Threatens Latino Graduates

The Young Invincibles logo

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy Communications Strategist, Wealth-Building Policy Project

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. Continue reading

Now It’s Personal: Viewing the Fiscal Cliff from the Perspective of Youth

By Mario Enríquez, Líderes Associate, NCLR

The fiscal cliff has been a hot topic in recent weeks.  From the TV screen to endless posts on our newsfeeds, we can see that the fiscal cliff will not be good for anyone, especially youth.  As a young person you may ask yourself, “What is the fiscal cliff and how exactly does it affect me?”  Some might say, “Why should I care about this?”  The reason is simple:  Out of all the demographic groups in this country, young people will feel the impact of the fiscal cliff the longest, not only now but for decades to come.  Yes, many of us may not earn enough right now to potentially lose $2,000 in taxes, but we should consider how this will affect us down the road.

Failing to avert the fiscal cliff will only exacerbate the already deep hole we are digging for ourselves with our national student debt and our unemployment rate.  As a member of the Millennial Generation, I have seen my friends struggle to find a job that fits their career goals. Black and Latino youth, who are the fast-growing segments of our young people, are suffering unemployment rates of 23% and 18% respectively.”  These rates are much too high, and we cannot bear the burden of inaction from Congress.

We grew up believing in the notion of the American Dream, that if we work hard we can succeed and prosper in America.  We have aimed to achieve this dream for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities.  We know the value of hard work and are ready to join the workforce in our respective fields.  Young people across this country should not have to worry about massive student debt.  We need to start holding the Obama administration and Congress accountable to ensure that we, too, have a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream.

I ask you to think about your personal situation and what life would be like if you didn’t have opportunities to succeed.  What would that mean for you?  We are the leaders of today and tomorrow, and I know that if we stand our ground and make our voices heard, Congress will listen.  We need to start taking action not just for ourselves but also for our families who we fight for every single day.  Let’s get out there and show the power we have as rising leaders in this country!