Why is it Considered a Problem?

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In the United States, it has been established that higher education can provide an individual and society with financial wealth. Investing in your future can bring many financial benefits. Historically, white students have been given the opportunity to obtain their undergraduate with the support of their parents, financial aid, student loans, and higher quality education. As United States becomes more racially diverse, Latinos are also seeking for a higher education. Recently, the cost of higher education has increased tremendously, the inflation has caused many students and parents to invest their own money to cover the cost. The inflation also plays a role in the choice of institution private or state the Latino students choose. Latino students encounter many barriers to educational opportunities when related to the affordability of higher education. Latino’s have found that financial aid policies provide a safety net for young adults from low-income families. Access to student loans can also provide a safety net for completing their undergraduate. Studies show Latino students who acquire student loans experience more disparities in the future or during their attendance for higher education.

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“Why is it Considered a Problem?”

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Why Is It Considered A Problem?

Acquiring a student loan can affect a student greatly during their academic years and after graduation. During a student academic years, a student loan can create anxiety and lots of stress. Student loans can greatly impact the choice of working part-time during their undergraduate and not fully investing time into their studies (two authors). After the undergraduate is complete, some students may find it difficult to attain a job in their field. Students may resort to settling for a minimum wage job to make the monthly payments of their student loan. The domino effect continues, with student loans preventing an individual to purchase a car, start a family, attain a house mortgage, investing in stocks, bonds, and their health care. In addition, the choice of healthy food for the week can also be affected when deciding to pay your monthly student loan. Students loans can heavily impact one to attaining wealth. Its important to focus on student loans because it can lead to racial gaps in wealth among college educated students.

What are its origins and consequences?

Students who do not receive the same quality of education as whites, it can lead to many consequences. For instance, the Latino community can experience many obstacles to obtain a student loans. By neglecting Latinos the opportunity to excel academically, many racial disparities may arise. Unequal education can lead to many financial struggles, that affect them in their daily lives and future. For example, poor health insurance, low-income jobs, poor credit score, access to drugs, poor neighborhoods and schools. Due to these disparities Latino’s then seek for financial support, and they are discriminated against for not having the financial means when their our country implemented policies that restrict them from gaining any type of wealth opportunity.

Does it disproportionately impact specific groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, class, or sexual orientation?
Student loans disproportionately impact students based on race, ethnicity, gender, and class. According to Woo, Latino students have a higher probability of defaulting on their student loans because parents finances, investments, and childhood background can impact the completion of school. Males have a bigger probability of defaulting on their loans. Blacks and Latinos have a higher percentage of experiencing disparities due to their socioeconomic, and educational background.

What can be done or is doing be done about it?

To facilitate access to a higher education to the low-income community, the federal government has implemented many solutions to facilitate the high cost of college and help them complete their undergraduate. To give the equal opportunity to access higher education, the government has adopted tuition tax credit, GI Bill, merit-based scholarships, federal Parent Plus Loan, Middle Income Student Assistance Act, Higher Education Act, and Pell grants (Elliott, Friedline #). With these incentives put in place, the government hopes that students don’t have to resort to private loans.

Elliott, Friedline Article

In You pay your share, we’ll pay our share”: The college cost burden and the role of race, income, and college assets reviews how financial aid policies are creating more burdens on parents and students to cover the cost of higher education. The government is placing more responsibilities on Latino and moderate-income household to pay for school tuition out of their own personal accounts. There are many disparities between Latino household and whites. Whites have the advantage of creating investments tax-free, receive merit-based awards, and qualify for Parent Plus loans. (Elliott, Friedline #). Many Latinos parents may not have the knowledge or opportunity to invest in college savings which can be tax-free (Elliott, Friedline #). Latino families with bad credit or immigrant may not have access to the Parent Plus loans. (Elliott, Friedline #).

More grants should be accessible to low-income students to prevent them from defaulting or dropping out of college, which can then create a wider wealth gap between whites, and those of color. When looking into institutions to continue your educational wealth, college enrollment gaps exist by both race and income (Elliott, Friedline #). More incentives should be created to encourage students to attend a four-year institution. According to Elliot and Friedline, Latinos are more inclined and encouraged to continue their higher education at a two-year institution. There are more incentives in a two-year college than a four-year college (Elliott, Friedline #). Latinos students are less likely to pay their education with student loans and find other financial means to compensate for the remaining balance or drop out of school. Lastly, we need to consider white parents may greatly contribute financially to their child’s education because of their financial stability. Latino parents may not have the financial means to support their child other than providing them a roof over their head and food on the table.

In The Student Debt Dilemma: Debt Aversion as a Barrier to College Access. Finances can influence the selection of institution a student attends. Low-income students often choose a two-year college to continue their studies after high school. Students choice of school is determined according to the low-cost institution, and not having the knowledge on how to attain a student loan (Burdman #). Many Latino students discover that interest rates, consolidation, student loan programs, and long-term loans can be very complicating (Burdman #). This can be a very overwhelming experience that can affect their academic choices greatly.

According to Burdman, many first-generation, Mexican-Americans, borrow less money. Latino students experience many obstacles to further their education. Many young adults seek help or guidance from their parents when looking to invest in their future. Not only are Latino students facing many struggles, but their parents as well. Parents may not have knowledge of the process of applying for a loan, as their child is first-generation to attend a higher education. In addition, language can also be a disadvantage for the parents and their child (Burdman #). Forms may not be accessible in their foreign language which can make the entire process tidies and difficult (Burdman #). Lastly, if their parents have experience with bad credit, they may encourage their child not borrow so they also don’t have the same experience as them (Burdman #). For low-income families, applying for student loans may be the only thing preventing them from pursuing a higher education.


For students looking to further their education, resorting to student loans has been one of the primary ways students pay for their higher education. According to Houle’s article, Disparities in Debt paying for school tuition through student loans is one of the most common payment method students resort to (Houler 53). Student debt can bring inherent risk in the students future. The risk of student debt can affect the choice of institution, or the possible opportunity to complete their undergraduate. Houler research provides an insight into how parents education and income can affect their child’s student loan debt and choice of institution. Educated parents who have accumulate wealth, can provide many advantages to their children. Their children can gain cultural wealth, financial planning, and monetary contribution for their higher education. In addition, students with more financial wealth attend elite schools and receive a higher education. In his research he found students debt and parents income are not correlated (Houler 55). Students who attended college for a longer period of time, accrued more student loans (Houler 58).


To further understand why students default on their student loans, Woo explains some probabilities in Factors Affecting the Probability of Default: Student Loans in California. With Federal Family Education Loan (FEEL) program, many students have the possibility to invest in their education. In this journal article, Woo addresses many students run a higher risk at defaulting with their student loans due to not completing their higher education, earnings low-income wages, being unemployment, and their pre-college background (Woo 6). In addition, she addresses the effects race, gender, institution, parent education level, parents income, and inheritance can provide an advantage or disadvantage to a student when considering a student loan or institution they choose to attend. According to Woo’s research, male default 11.0% and females default 8.2% of the time (Woo 12). Furthermore, Hispanics default at 11.5% versus whites at 6.5% (Woo 12). Lastly, the student who borrows less than $3,000 have a higher percentage of defaulting in their student loan by 10.9%, and those who borrow over $25,000 default at 6.9% (Woo 12). These default percentages are attributed due to completion of their higher education, parent investment, and contributions.


The participants chosen for this research are all first-generation Latinos, trying to pursue the American dream. By pursuing this dream, they found many financial struggles and limitations that made it difficult to attain their degree. Participants economic household and family size played a role in their advantage or disadvantage with a higher education. Some of the participants were raised in a two-parent household and others with a single mother. The family income and social wealth participants were raised in, influenced their choice of institution they attended for their undergraduate. This choice impacted them greatly on their choice of University and applying for financial aid. Lastly, parents inheritance and education could have also played a role in the impact of the education level my participants received.


Apply Bonilla-Silva’s frames to the responses. This can be on any course topic you wish (income, wealth, ideas about poverty, experiences with inheritances, experiences w/ discrimination/sexism /homophobia in the workplace).

Silvia raised in a two-parent household, is first in her family to attempt a higher education. When asked, what has helped her accumulate wealth? Her response was, I don’t have wealth, I was never able to finish my undergraduate because my father got sick. Someone had to support my parents, pay the house mortgage and all the responsibilities that come with owning a house.

When asked if minority students should be provided unique opportunities to be admitted into universities Claudia responded no. Claudia then added, students should be accepted into universities if they are adequately prepared academically. For example, I was not academically prepared that’s why I went to a community college. Being raised by a single mother, I was never encouraged to continue my studies after high school. I decided I wanted to continue my studies but I had to be smart about my choices because I didn’t have any money. I applied to Mt. SAC, and after 6 years I transferred to Cal State Fullerton. CSUF turned out to be more difficult than what I anticipated. After attending three semesters, part-time, struggling financially and academically I decided to no longer attend.

Gabriel, forty-year-old, gay alumni from CSUF, was raised by a single father. When asked, what type of obstacles did he encounter when attending college? His response was, I quickly recognized my inability to write proficiently my first year of undergraduate. It was very frustrating to learn that my high school didn’t prepare me properly for my undergraduate. The lack of counselors, and guidance in his high school prevented me from being adequately prepared. Although I had a 3.8 GPA, I never received the proper guidance to enrolling into courses that would help me in college. I proceeded to ask Gabriel, were you able to resolve this obstacle? I had to find a way to make this work, I receiving tutoring in the writing center. I can recall my extra time being spent in this writing center. This prevented me from joining any clubs, or doing any fun college activities because majority of my time was spent in the writing center.

Tracy, forty-two year old teacher was asked, what type of obstacles did you encounter when attending college? Her response was, ahhhh men, where do I start. I think that my lack of preparation for college impacted my ability to do well in school. I don’t feel like my high school education prepared me enough for the educational challenges. The lack of guidance made it difficult for me to focus on my career. For this reason, I was in junior college for about 10 years. Did you receive any financial help? I came from a single mother household, and I am the first in my family to graduate from college.

There were lots of things along the way I had to teach myself, one of them was how to save and finance. My mother financially helped me with a roof over my head, and food on the table. I didn’t have any help in choosing a college all I knew that I had to consider my financial situation, so I had to choose wisely. I chose a junior college and then transferred to CSUF. I did not have any trouble obtaining a student loan once I attended Fullerton. My first student loan was a private loan. I did not have any guidance when I was applying and I was not aware of interest rates. The rate on my private loan was pretty high because of my own ignorance and no guidance. This lead to financial struggles to make my student loan payment because I didn’t have anybody teaching me how to manage my money.

In conclusion, promoting equal educational opportunities through policies and interventions is by no means an easy task. As the cost of living is rising in California, I believe higher education will get worse, which can lead to more students resorting to student loans to pay for their undergraduate. I would like to see higher education cost lowered in order to help our country’s wealth. Having institutions more costly accessible can encourage students to continue with their studies without any stress, and financial struggles. By doing so, debt disparities would be resolved among the lower class.

The country would profit tremendously economically if more individuals had an opportunity for a higher education. This would promote opportunities for higher paying jobs, better health care, access to a better community, schools and a stable home. In return, our country would be able to focus our tax dollars on other social services for our country if its people are highly educated and shared equal opportunities within all racial groups. More individuals need to be paying attention to this issue because lower and middle-class families are struggling financially more today, which can lead students to default on their student loans. As the wealthy get more wealthier, they will continue to influence our policies, which can lead to less financial aid and loan opportunities for our Latino students to continue their education.

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Why Is It Considered A Problem?. (2020, Jan 10). Retrieved February 4, 2023 , from

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