In the News

About 81 percent of black graduates of public colleges and universities have student debt, compared with 63 percent of white graduates, according to report by Washington think tank Demos. Latino students borrow at similar rates to white students.

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Do you think economic factors perpetuate racial inequality?

Getting poor, minority children hooked on junk food is just one way the fast-food industry is getting over on us. Workers in the fast-food industry get paid among the lowest wages of any occupation. In New York, most fast-food occupations pay an average of around $9.00 an hour. This is why, as a recent study from the University of California-Berkeley reported, seven billion dollars per year are spent nationally on public assistance programs for fast-food workers.

After banning the box last year, the D.C. Council will consider a bill that would prohibit employers from checking an applicant’s credit history during most of the hiring process.

How much will your student loans cost you?

In 2015, the average student borrower is graduating with about $35,000 worth of debt. Paid over the course of 10 or more years, the cost of repayment will include several thousand dollars more to pay off the interest that accumulates on the loan.

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The push for “debt-free college” began only last fall. But, politically, this meme has everything: It’s an earnest response to a genuine policy problem, the rise in student debt loads. It captures the dreams and anxieties of millennial voters and their families. And it touches on the wrenching changes underway in a vital American industry — higher ed.
Late last year, a paper from the think tank Demos outlined how more federal support for state universities could allow students, or at least those with modest part-time jobs, to graduate without debt.
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Some community-college students don't get support from their families, while others had subpar high-school educations and have to play catch-up right away. In fact, a 2010 study by the public-policy organization Demos found that six out of 10 students entering community colleges have to take remedial courses to compensate for the skills and knowledge they never attained in high school.

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Students have turned to loans to keep up with the price hikes. The class of 2015 has the most debt in U.S. history, with each student graduating with an average of $35,051 in loans. The national total recently reached an all-time high of $1.2 trillion.

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Warren has led the charge in promoting college affordability as a major issue in the 2016 presidential race, calling for the elimination of student debt at public colleges. That debt-free college initiative, the brainchild of liberal think tank Demos, has been endorsed by Democratic contenders Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

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Nine dollars an hour, by the way, is still poverty wages. On that wage, if an employee were working 40 hours per week every week of the year they would make just under $19,000 per year -- still below poverty.