January 31, 2007
Most Latinos spurn college loans
Here is a really interesting article on cultural aversions to borrowing money, particularly within the Latino community. I studied anthropology in college, so I find these articles fascinating.
“Luis Fernandez, who will graduate in May from Cal State Fullerton, put himself through college and has a stack of receipts to prove it. He paid for his education, all $12,800 of it, in cash.
“My parents have always said, ‘If you don’t have the money to pay for it, then work for it,’ ” Fernandez said.
So he did. Fernandez, 24, who came from Mexico with his parents when he was 8, worked at a Westminster drugstore and wrote personal checks to cover his college fees. He decided not to take out student loans.
Although the pay-as-you-go method worked for Fernandez, one of his teachers, Chicano studies professor Alexandro Gradilla, has seen many Latinos drop out or take extra years to graduate because they won’t finance their education the way most college students do: with a combination of work, grants and loans.
“I see this happen all the time in my classroom, students who are overworked and under-prepared for class,” said Gradilla. “When I ask them about taking out loans instead of working so much, their thinking is, ‘If you can’t pay it in cash, then it’s not a good idea.’ ”
Educators and financial aid experts said the cultural aversion to loans — considered a sign of a strong work ethic — is common among Latino immigrants and their children. And it creates an odd dilemma in academia.
Financial aid experts worry that students who rely heavily on loans are taking on too much personal debt to pay for college, but educators are trying to convince Latinos that school loans, if used wisely, can lead to high-paying jobs later.”