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College Bound, But Debt Bound?

Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.
Con Mi Madre, a non-profit that encourages Hispanic mothers to seek a college education for their daughters, hosted a college fair at Travis High School in Austin Saturday.

Some Austin parents such as Norma Sanchez worry a college education will be the most costly expense for their families. A college fair Saturday at Travis High School was hosted by Con Mi Madre, a non-profit active in Austin schools that encourages Hispanic mothers to seek a college education for their daughters.

English translation: "Yes, it worries me very much because college tuition is very expensive and we don’t know how we are going to pay so much money," Sanchez said. "But they tell us there are scholarships and grants that can help."

Sanchez’s daughter Evelyn, an Akins High School sophomore, wants to be a doctor. She's aware of how much that'll cost. 

"It is a lot of money, I know. That's why I want to try to get as much scholarships as I can," Evelyn Sanchez said. "That's why I have to do good in school."

President Obama announced in October plans to lower monthly payments for student loans effective next year. The measure also forgives federal student loan debt after 20 years.

Sonia Castellanos, program director for Con Mi Madre, said that should be encouraging for parents. Castellanos said several of her students made decisions this academic year to stay at community colleges because of tuition increases and less federal financial aid. She said traditionally, Hispanic families are reluctant to take out loans. 

"That's another thing that we have to educate our families -- that it is okay to take out a student loan," Castellanos said. "It’s for their own benefit. It’s for something that will help them in the future but yet we also want to teach them that we don’t for them to get too, too many loans. ”

Castellanos said students are also choosing to stay closer to home so they can help family with expenses or childcare.

The next college fair is planned for February to help with federal financial aid applications.


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