Policymakers and education leaders laud students who finish their college degrees within the four-year ideal. But Mario Escalera, a University of Texas at San Antonio student, will be glad to earn his bachelor's in about twice that — especially if it means he can avoid student loan debt.
The first-generation college student, who was raised on the Southeast Side by grandparents from Mexico, said his family instilled in him a strong fear of borrowing money.
“Because they had no credit, they never saw loans as an option,” said Escalera, 27. “It was always working hard for your money, saving it and buying what you wanted in cash.”
His trepidation, which has persisted even though he has worked at a bank during much of his post-secondary schooling, is similar to that of many Hispanic students, according to national research and observers at several Texas schools.
And if college costs continue to rise, fear of borrowing could form a barrier to higher education for the city's and state's burgeoning Hispanic population.
Experts and financial aid directors say students and their families struggling to pay for college through other means may need to walk the tightrope of student loans — finding a balance between borrowing amounts they can't repay and shunning loans entirely. READ MORE