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LeeAndra Bridgewater Debt Borrower
Blog December 13, 2023

The Weight of Student Debt: LeeAndra’s Story

LeeAndra Bridgewater Debt Borrower


First Generation College Student.

Doctoral Candidate.

Student Loan Borrower.

All of these titles could be used to describe me, but when combined, all of these titles tell a very specific story about my life - about my student loan journey.

My name is LeeAndra Bridgewaters, and here is my student debt story. 

As a young person motivated by the desire for knowledge and financial stability, I pursued a bachelor's degree in Psychology through student loans and the support of a Pell Grant. However, my educational journey didn't end there. I went on to earn a master's degree in social work, becoming a mental health therapist.

Soon after starting my career, my children reached a crucial stage in their lives — the end of high school. Despite financial aid limitations, I couldn't let my two children miss out on education. Their dreams were as big and bright as mine were at that stage of life. To support them, I took out parent-plus loans. My daughter is now in her third year of Medical School, accumulating significant student debt, continuing the cycle of debt in the Black community.

Now in my final semester of doctoral studies, I face a mountain of $130,000 in student debt. It's not just about my dreams, it's about the ripple effect on my family's future. Homeownership and wealth-building seem like distant dreams. The burden extends beyond personal challenges – it obstructs economic advancement for Black Americans. Canceling up to $50,000 in student loans, especially for Black women, is crucial for our community's prosperity.

While the Saving on Valuable Education (SAVE) plan is a step in the right direction, it's crucial to include graduate and Parent PLUS borrowers like me. Our leaders must hear our stories. They must ensure reform that benefits all of us equally in this ongoing battle for economic justice.

LeeAndra Bridgewaters

This 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 negotiated rulemaking sessions this year to begin the process of developing a set of recommendations for comprehensive student debt relief. Throughout the three-month-long 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 LeeAndra's story.