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Latino students are entering college at record numbers; Today, almost 3.8 million Latinos are enrolled in colleges and universities across the United States. Yet Latino students trail their White and Asian peers in attaining college degrees. The overall completion gap exceeds ten percentage points.

Although scholars and advocates have pointed to several different barriers facing Latino college students, a persistent narrative focuses on Latino students’ aversion to taking on student debt. In response, researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and UnidosUS undertook a multi-year mixed-method study to test and interrogate whether and how debt aversion affects Latino college completion. We sought to better understand how the current debt-driven higher education system affects college completion, paying particular attention to the barriers disproportionately affecting Latino students.

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