President Joe Biden in Campaign
The Biden administration has cancelled some $144 billion of loans for nearly 4 million people. AFP

President Joe Biden announced a new round of student debt loan forgiveness on Thursday, in this case for $5.8 billion and aimed at some 78.000 public-sector workers.

Those benefited by the measure will receive a congratulatory email next week, while an additional 380,000 borrowers who also work in the sector will get a message saying they could also be eligible in the future.

"If you continue your career in public service, you're on track to get your eligible student loans forgiven in less than two years through Public Service Loan Forgiveness," an example email provided by the White House reads.

According to CNN, under the current program the public-sector workers become eligible for relief after making 10 years of monthly payments. Overall, the administration has cancelled some $144 billion of loans for nearly 4 million people, mostly through existing programs.

The government intended to expand the measures last year but the Supreme Court rejected the program, which would have canceled up to $20,000 for low and middle-income borrowers for an estimated total of $430 billion.

The decision was a heavy blow for Latinos, as about half of all Latino borrowers would have had their entire debt forgiven, according to Excelencia in Education, a Latino student advocacy organization.

Despite these shortcomings, Latino enrollment in higher education has increased significantly. According to Excelencia, the Latino student population has risen from 1.5 million in 2000 to 3.8 million in 2019 and more than 4 in 10 Hispanic students are the first in their family to attend college.

The relief is the latest effort by the Biden administration to address the nation's $1.77 trillion in student debt. The government cancelled an additional $1.2 billion in student debt exactly a month ago, benefitting 153,000 borrowers.

But what will this mean for Latino students? For some, the landscape of student loan and education is not necessarily an optimistic field. From inequities to education gaps, there are many disparities within the education system that affect minority students. Here are some quick facts about Latinos and student loan.

  1. White non-Hispanic families in the U.S. have a median wealth of $188,200, compared with $36,100 for Hispanic families, according to data analyzed by the Brookings Institution. Because of reasons like this, in 2016, about half of Hispanic families weren't able to contribute anything to the costs of their children's higher education, UnidosUS, an advocacy organization found.
  2. Latinos tend to take longer to graduate college, often because they're balancing school with work, CNBC reported. Financial stress and caregiving burdens lead to half of Hispanic students saying it is "very difficult" or "difficult" for them to remain in their post-secondary education program, a Gallup poll from last year found.
  3. Loan defaults (stopping loan repayment) tend to exacerbate long-standing wage, wealth and opportunity gaps. Around 29% of white borrowers default on their federal student loans compared to 40% of Hispanic borrowers and 50% of Black borrowers, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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