• Voices of NY

Helping Caribbean Millennials Ease Debt Burdens

When she was 18, Melisa Boutin did what most people do in order to pay for college – she took out loans, and plenty of them.

The St. Kitts and Nevis native received a combination of loans from American banking institutions as well as a private loan from a bank back home to attend the University of Miami.

“After my first year of college, I knew I would be on track to have more than $100,000 in student loan debt,” she said. “I knew I had to figure out a way to get off that path and take control of my financial future.”

U.S. student loan debt has been climbing steadily in recent years. The amount outstanding reached $1.26 trillion at the end of the second quarter of this year, nearly triple the $440 billion of a decade earlier, according the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s household debt and credit report. Meanwhile, delinquency rates – the amount on which payments were more than 90 days past due­ stood at 11.1 percent at mid-year, compared with 6.7 percent a decade ago, the New York Fed reported.

For today’s millennials, the burden promises to be heavy. According to a 2016 survey by Citizens Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, people age 18-35 have an average student debt of $41,286.60, and the majority have “no idea” when they will be able to pay back their student loan debt.

Nervous about the debts she was shouldering to get an education, Boutin transferred schools, from the University of Miami to Texas A&M, where expenses were lower and she was awarded multiple scholarships.

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