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Ep 2: 'I don't like owing anybody money'

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Camille Phillips
Texas Public Radio
Andres Mendoza, 25, logs into the portal for his accounting class to see how much homework he has April 27, 2021. Mendoza is a junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He works full time and attends college part time.

Twice a week in the spring of 2021, Andres Mendoza left work an hour early so he could get home in time for his online classes.

He works full time and goes to college part time so he can support himself without taking out student loans.

“I've never liked to owe anybody money, regardless if it's 5 dollars (or) 50 cents,” Mendoza said. “I don't like owing anybody money, so having to owe the government money is even worse.”

From Texas Public Radio, this is the Enduring Gap, a limited series exploring some of the reasons just 17% Latino adults in San Antonio have a bachelor’s degree. This is episode 2: "I don't like owing anybody money."

White adults are more than twice as likely to have a college degree in San Antonio. Why? There isn’t a lot of research on that, especially at the local level. So, we went looking for answers ourselves. TPR surveyed more than 2,600 students enrolled in San Antonio’s public institutions of higher education in early 2021.

One of the main topics of the survey was paying for college. We asked students about work, grants, and scholarships. Over and over again, one issue rose to the top: college loans.

Latino students were just as likely to take out loans as white students, but the reasons students didn’t take out loans varied a lot depending on their race and ethnicity.

Most Black and Latino students who didn’t take out loans said they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to pay them back. Most white students said they didn’t take out loans because they could get by without them.

For more information on the college access survey the podcast series is based on, read our stories here.

The Enduring Gap podcast is made possible by an Education Writers Association fellowship. EWA fellowships support ambitious education journalism projects.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org, on Instagram at camille.m.phillips and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.