I’m not buried under student loan debt. I dropped out of college early and the private student loan industry didn’t manage to prey on me. My federal loan doesn’t compare to the $26,530 average bill many students have to pay. Despite this, I want strong protections for my peers because the student debt crisis hurts everyone.
The fact I avoided an enormous debt is a matter of luck, not financial savviness. I had parents who were able to cover my living expenses and help me navigate FAFSA, which is a luxury a lot of students don’t have for multiple reasons that likely stem from 400+ years of systemic racism. When students don’t have access to generational wealth and government aid is insufficient, high-interest rate loans are often the only way students can fund their education. Private lenders usually won’t disclose all of their repayment options, leaving them at the mercy of aggressive collection tactics. This forces graduates to quickly settle for lower-paying jobs to avoid default, instead of investing unpaid time into finding work that meets their qualifications. When a large portion of our population can’t meet their full potential, it hurts our community; we have fewer people starting businesses because they can’t take on the financial risk, which means there are fewer job opportunities for everyone. Many innovative thinkers aren’t able to use their talent, which impacts everyone. What happens when our best doctors can’t afford medical school, our best inventors can’t take on a business loan, and our best leaders are suppressed under a vicious cycle of financial ruin?
If our state legislators want Coloradans to prosper, they need to pass legislation that will provide student debt relief, especially for private borrowers who have been left behind.