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The weight of debt

One of the hardest things I ever accomplished was paying off student loans.

I admit I was fortunate enough to have things happen in college that allowed me to have scholarships all through junior college, and saving up to pay for a four year out of pocket at an early time.

However, this is a rare situation, and student loan debt is enough to give the majority of us a heart attack.

Forbes’ Senior Contributor, Zack Friedman, reported on June 13, 2018, that student loan debt “is now the highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt- higher than both credit cards and auto loans.”

Friedman also quoted numbers from Make Lemonade, which is a self-proclaimed “free personal finance website that empowers you to live a better life,” that claimed there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone.

“The average student in the Class of 2016 has $27,172 in student loan debt,” Friedman wrote.

Alabama makes the top 10 of highest average debt states at No. 9, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.

The institute claims that the state has an average student loan debt of $31,275.

Fast forward to Thursday, when Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, announced plans to address disproportionate student debt burden among borrowers of color.

“African-American and Latino students still owe more than 100 percent of their loan balance after 12 years of college entry, even if they complete a degree. White students, meanwhile, owe anywhere between 47 to 70 percent of their loan balance depending on the credential they obtained. Even among bachelor’s degree graduates, the African-American-white debt gap more than triples after graduation, due to differences in interest accrual, graduate school borrowing, and ongoing deeper issues related to labor market discrimination, racialized economic hardships, and familial wealth,” Jones wrote in a letter to stakeholders. “These outcomes are staggering and unacceptable. As members of Congress, we are committed to doing better for these students and ask for your assistance in defining specific proposals the federal government can take to address these disparities.”

After looking, Jones was citing numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics.

This is a call to arms from Jones, who will host a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit in Birmingham on Feb. 1.

Debt is a major way of keeping us paralyzed from moving forward with our lives in the goals that we want to do.

You read in today’s edition of The Selma Times-Journal about how Wallace Community College-Selma (WCCS) President Dr. James Mitchell talked about how administrators strive to provide alternate avenues for funding, such as financial aid and scholarships.

Mitchell even said that this “is not a problem for our students because we don’t have loans.”

It is important for those coming into college and continuing college to seek out any type of alternate financial assistance that is possible.

Yes, I know that every situation is different and sometimes student debt is unavoidable. I think that is true for everyone who goes down the college and university avenue.

However, sometimes it is the price you have to sometimes literally pay to take that route.