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Dorien R. Grad Student Debt
Blog March 8, 2024

The Weight of Student Debt: Dorien's Story

Dorien R. Grad Student Debt

As I sit down to write this, I can't help but reflect on the myriad roles I play in my life. From being a student to a borrower, a teacher to a DoorDash driver, and a member of my community, I embody the multifaceted identity of an American. Yet, amidst these roles, one common thread binds my aspirations and challenges: education.

My name is Dorien Rogers, a resident of Clarksburg, Maryland. For me, education has been more than just a path to knowledge; it has been the bridge that connects me to the very essence of the American Dream. But as I navigate through life with over $50,000 in student debt looming over me, that dream feels increasingly like a nightmare.

The jobs I hold barely sustain my finances, leaving me grappling with the harsh reality that the very education I invested in might be hindering rather than propelling my ambitions. I yearn to purchase a home, start a family, and care for my parents, who proudly served our country. The contradiction of having to work tirelessly to access the true power of education, only to find it morph into a life sentence of debt, weighs heavily on my conscience.

Each day presents new challenges. Whether it's struggling to afford gas for my car or juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, the financial strain is relentless. Yet, amidst these struggles, I remain committed to nurturing the next generation of leaders as a middle school teacher.

I witness firsthand the transformative power of education as my students defy odds and shine bright through their academic achievements and leadership. It's a reminder of the resilience ingrained in the fabric of our nation, a resilience that has seen us overcome countless obstacles and crises. But as I advocate for a better future for my students, I can't help but question the fairness of a system that burdens individuals with insurmountable debt in pursuit of that very future.

As I continue to navigate this complex journey, I hold onto the hope that one day, education will truly be the equalizer it promises to be. Until then, I'll persevere, knowing that my struggles are not in vain and that my voice, alongside countless others, will continue to echo the call for change. Together, let's strive for an America where the pursuit of education isn't overshadowed by the specter of debt, but rather, serves as a beacon of opportunity for all who dare to dream.

Last summer, the United States Supreme Court squashed the anticipation and plans of millions of student loan borrowers across the country when it decided that the Biden Administration's student debt cancellation plan was unconstitutional. While repayments resumed in October, work continues to find relief for those borrowers.

The Department of Education hosted a fourth negotiated rulemaking session this year to continue the process of developing a set of recommendations for comprehensive student debt relief. Throughout the negotiation process, Black borrowers shared their personal stories to help highlight the barriers of Parent Plus loans, income-to-debt ratio, the HBCU experience, and how Pell Grants provide limited support in making college affordable.

This is Dorien's story.