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In a recent survey of LGBTQ borrowers, SLH reports more than half (60%) regret the decision to take out student loans. Only 45% of student loan borrowers in the general population feel this way. Additionally, they report not understanding how much they would have to repay after graduation.
Several factors play into the results, but apparent workplace discrimination is a crucial factor. The survey finds that 53% of the LGBTQ respondents report making less than $50,000 a year, exacerbating their difficulties in affording student loan payments. On top of that, they can still be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity in most of the country.
According to a 2017 fact sheet on workplace equality put out by Out & Equal, a nonprofit organization that advocates for LGBTQ workplace equality, you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Andi Tremonte is a transgender person and an LGBTQ+ cultural competency trainer at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. He pointed out that even in states that have nondiscrimination laws, such as Utah, there are loopholes that worry him.
“Because I rent from a private person, they could decide to kick me out, because there’s an exception in the law,” said Tremonte. “My workplace has few enough employees that my employer is an exception to the law and could decide to fire me for being transgender.”
He also said many other LGBTQ people live with the same fears, contributing to their worries that a slip to the wrong person about orientation or identity could mean a loss of income. That, in turn, could lead to difficulty in making student loan payments and meeting other obligations.
The SLH report also looked at LGBTQ youth and access to student loans. It found that in some cases, the higher amount of student debt seen in the LGBTQ community might be because many young people don’t get financial help from parents. Only 39% of respondents report feeling “entirely accepted” by their families. Thirty-three percent report being kicked out of their home at some point.
This can put young people at a disadvantage from the start, said Tremonte. “Many of the youth I serve don’t have the resources to go to college without help.”
Tremonte also pointed out a flaw in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. He said that most students have to provide their parents’ income information on the form and that it can be challenging to get that information.
“Without parent information, a FAFSA might be rejected, leading to no federal aid,” said Tremonte. “Some parents have used this reality for power and control. They tell their student that they have to do certain things or stop being queer to get the information [the student] needs.”
For the in-depth survey report, go to https://studentloanhero.com/featured/survey-lgbtq-student-borrowers-regret-loans/