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About This Episode

Janette Martinez (@Janette_M) is a former Senior Policy and Research Analyst at Excelencia in Education. She focused on federal and state policy and effective institutional practices to accelerate Latino student success. Janette worked with the Excelencia policy and research team on key issues including affordability, institutional capacity, and workforce development.
She started her career in education as a sixth-grade teacher and continued as an intern with the Lumina Foundation, National Association of Financial Aid Administrators, and Excelencia in Education and as a policy analyst with Education Reform Now..
During this episode, we cover solutions for student loans from the Latino perspective that can be taken to make progress towards greater student success.

THIS EPISODE COVERS:

  • How schools can increase retention and improve graduation rates of Latino students.
  • How to accelerate Latino student success.
  • How Financial Aid can be reformed to improve the college experience.
  • The definition of an HSI and how it differs from an HBCU and TCU.
  • Janette’s personal journey in higher education and the importance of her family in her success.
  • And much more…

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Janette Martinez (00:00): Focus on that, on that serving piece of it. Um, and what are you actually doing to support your Latino students, um, to make sure that they are successful at your institution and really kind of really pushing that forward beyond just did you enroll students check

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:18): Welcome to the student loan podcast here, you'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans, we're your hosts, Daphne, Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:37): Welcome to another episode of the student loan podcast. Thank you for joining us today. And before we continue, remember to rate, review and subscribe, and if you know, someone that could benefit or be interested in these topics that we cover here at the sit alone podcast. So now let's turn it over to Jeannette Martinez, who is our guest today and a former senior policy and research analyst with excelencia in education. And she's actually has a great history of being a teacher herself of sixth grade students, and actually worked with Luna foundation, the national association of financial administrators and excelencia in education. So without further ado, let's turn over to Jeanette. Jeanette, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Janette Martinez (01:15): Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here and talk about one of my favorite topics, affordability and student loans. Um, as you mentioned, uh, I was formerly a sixth grade teacher. I started my career in education as a sixth grade teacher in Houston, Texas. Um, working with a lot of students, similar to myself, a first-generation immigrant from immigrant families and low income backgrounds. And even though we were at college prep school, we had a lot of students that starting from sixth grade knew and thought, I'm not going to be able to go to college no matter how hard I try here, cause I'm never going to be able to afford it. Um, and then also just seeing day to day that there were just issues impacting their, their livelihoods that I had no control in within my classroom. Um, so that's when I decided to go back to my government roots and which was what I studied in undergraduate education and pursue a master's of public administration at George Washington university.

Janette Martinez (02:12): And that's how I ended up in DC. Um, so I've had the opportunity to learn a lot about higher education policy through the various internships that you mentioned, limited foundation, uh, the financial aid association. Um, and eventually I ended up at excellence in education where I was for the last, uh, two and a half years, uh, focusing on, uh, a number of policy areas, including affordability, institutional capacity, uh, student retention and, uh, workforce development. So, um, it was a great way to really bring in my own lived experience as a student who paid for college undergraduate college with, uh, Pell grants and, uh, SEOG supplemental educational opportunity grant, um, and worked through college, um, to then go through my graduate program, mostly on loans and the little income I had from internships. Um, it's a really bringing that own lived experience on top of just everything that I've had the opportunity to learn. Um, and so I'm really excited to kind of share what I've learned along the way with you today.

Shamil Rodriguez (03:20): Fantastic. And we're happy to have you on board today, uh, speaking about all those different areas, but, uh, before we get into those and we take a deep dive, um, did you imagine that you would be, uh, working with think tanks and trying to help shape policy, uh, when you were first going to college or was that something that you were just like, Hey, these opportunities are leading me down this path. Can you tell us a little bit about what motivates you to get involved

Janette Martinez (03:46): In this field? Yeah. Um, so I definitely had no idea that any of this would ever be possible one day. I think when I started undergrad, I was like, I think I'm going to be a lawyer. Um, cause that's all I knew. Right. We knew like teachers lawyers like doctors and I knew I didn't like blood cause I was like, I can't be a doctor, a lawyer. Um, and then I took a few government courses. I was like, actually I really like this. Maybe I can study this. Um, and actually saw a lot of my friends become teachers. And so I just decided to follow in their footsteps. Um, but yeah, just kind of like thought that that was it. And I remember when I left Texas to come to DC and a lot of people were like, well, what kind of jobs are you looking for?

Janette Martinez (04:28): Like what are you going to grad school for? What, what do you want to, um, be in? And I was like, I have no idea, but I'm going to take this leap. And I feel like I'm gonna find out some cool new jobs. I don't even know exist when I get there. And that's exactly what happened. I was able to, um, and especially my grad school program, everyone becomes a policy analyst, but everyone's job looks completely different. Um, so, um, I was excited to find, find a space where I could do the research and the policy piece as well. And, um, try to try to talk to as many undergrads as possible now. And to let them know, Hey, we need your voices here in DC. This is something that you can do and something that's possible.

Shamil Rodriguez (05:05): Very nice. So w what, um, so let's, let's, uh, let's take a deep dive. What were, that's all that you were at Lumina foundation first, uh, or at least that's one of the places that you had interned at, uh, was your focus also, uh, retention and higher education at that point? Or did you kind of grow into that, that sector? Um,

Janette Martinez (05:23): I definitely grew into that sector. Um, and I think a lot of that came at my time at excellence. Yeah. Um, especially given, um, that infinity has focused on accelerating Latino student success in higher education. And so, especially for Latino students, um, that was just a big, a big policy area for us because we know that there is, um, but I think those are persistent through college, but might take longer to graduate than other, uh, racial, ethnic groups. And so we really focus on that on like, how do we, how can institutions retain students and help them graduate faster. So at that was actually my first internship in higher education, my first real introduction to higher education. And, um, the, the easiest thing to learn in higher, not easiest, that's not fair, but like, um, I feel like I can rewind. I feel like I feel like the most straightforward, um, tie to federal policy and higher education is title four is a federal financial aid program. And so that's kind of where a lot of my learning really began, um, when I was working at the Lumina foundation,

Shamil Rodriguez (06:29): Uh, just, uh, breaking down, uh, for the listeners, what title four means, or I guess how that applies. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Janette Martinez (06:35): Um, so title four of the higher education act is, um, just the part of the higher education act that, that sets forth all of these different, uh, financial aid programs, so that federal financial aid programs. So that includes the Pell grant that includes, uh, campus-based aid. So federal work study and, uh, the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant also known as SEO, S E O G. Um, and that includes federal student loans. Um, all that is, is what we talk about. Title four aid, um, it's those main three big programs that are being referred to no

Shamil Rodriguez (07:11): Great summary there. Uh, so you're saying that it impacts your student loans and your financing and the way that you can go to school. Yeah, that's very important, which is why we're talking about it here at the SU little buckets. Uh, no, but, uh, but let's, let's, let's keep going in that direction. I think it's really good to, um, let's talk about, you had mentioned, uh, that excellency, I was really pushing for, uh, accelerating student success or Latino student success in higher education. So what does that actually look like now? We've, we've had episodes that have gone into, uh, Latinos in higher education in general and just the issues that are being faced there. So do you want to talk about that briefly? And then we can go right into what those ways to accelerate a student success, how to secure it, how to improve retention of your students and graduation rates. Um, how's that

Janette Martinez (08:04): Sound? Yeah, definitely. It's so are so accidents, you're really focused on like three key areas, which was like data practice and leadership, like understanding that, um, good policy in higher education. And then at federal and state policy levels are really important. Um, and a lot of this work happens at the institutions as well. So we were thinking, um, uh, and often Latinos are at public institution. So that's a state policy plays a big part in this as well. So thinking about, um, like I said, affordability and title four is near and dear to my heart, given that it is the first policy area I was really exposed to in higher education. And for me, um, affordability was one of the places that we saw, um, is a good place to start in helping Latino students succeed in higher education, given that, um, they currently, uh, adjust their attendance patterns to fit into a financial aid system that isn't necessarily built for them.

Janette Martinez (09:01): So we know a lot of Latinos might be hesitant to take out loans given that they, that there are high, um, higher default rates for Latinos and for their white peers. Um, and even with the degree, they're still lower, um, earning lower, uh, earning fewer wages than their white peers as well. So when it makes sense that you would feel like, what is this, why would I put in this investment if it's not actually gonna pay off for me? So instead we see that Latino students attend part-time on, we'll go to a community college and we'll work as a way to cover their costs as well. So if we can provide more financing upfront, um, especially from like grant programs for this, this low income community, mostly low income community, uh, that can really play a big part. Um, but once we get students in the door, um, we also focus on how can we support those institutions that are enrolling the vast majority of students.

Janette Martinez (09:56): So we look and study closely or accidental studies, institutional capacity and Hispanic serving institutions pretty closely, uh, because these institutions, um, enroll 67% of all Latinos in higher education and undergraduate education. Um, yeah. And so those are those institutions who, uh, had, uh, at least 25% undergraduate full-time equivalent, Hispanic enrollment. Um, and it's, I think this area was 569, eight, uh, Hispanic serving institutions. So that represents like less than a fifth of all nonprofit institutions of higher education. Uh, but as I said in brawl, uh, 67% of all Latino students in undergraduate education. So how can we best support those institutions that are enrolling the disproportionate amount of Latino students and do often tend to be state, um, state funded community colleges. So when like COVID hit, it was a big, you know, how are these institutions going to fair and you state budgets pieces like that. And then how does that then trickle down to students and impact students as well? So, um, so let me just kind of at a high level piece of kind of where we looked at, definitely you wanna jump in

Daphné Vanessa (11:12): Here. Yeah. So I'd love to share Jeanette with the audience, what the difference is between a serving institution and a designated minority college and university, because I, I think it would be helpful for people to understand the scope and maybe history of Hispanic serving institutions versus, um, HBC use, for example, historically black colleges and universities or tribal colleges and universities.

Janette Martinez (11:41): Yeah. That's a great question. Um, definitely. So as you mentioned, HBC is, um, and TCU is the tribal tribal colleges, uh, are we're, we're created with a mission to serve, to specifically serve those communities, um, and were created with that purpose versus, um, HSIs are purely predicated on enrollment. So, uh, they were first federally funded in 1995, um, and came about thanks to institutions in, uh, places like Texas, California, New Mexico, who pennant, who recognized, you know, we're enrolling a lot of Latino students. Um, but we're, under-resourced how can we get the federal government to recognize this and provide some more support? Um, but the number of Hispanic serving institutions continues to grow every year. It's almost doubled in the time as we see the Latino population grow.

Daphné Vanessa (12:37): Exactly. And as the Latino population is, is set to become, you know, the largest population in the United States, how do you think that's going to change, um, some of the policies,

Janette Martinez (12:48): Um, well already, and I can even say, just even in the past few years that I've been working higher education, there's just so much more attention to Hispanic serving institutions. Um, but I think that there's still a lot of like trying to equate it. And that's why I'm so glad that you asked the question a lot of just kind of assuming that, um, intercise function similarly to the way the HBCU is, are like an institution becomes an HSI because they are focused on serving their Latino students, but that's not always necessarily the point. And as you know, the number of HSI has grow the federal funding for it, hasn't kept up at the same pace. Um, how do we start to think about, okay. Um, I guess asking or expecting more from, from HSIs to actually really focus on that, on that serving piece of it. Um, and what are you actually doing to support your Latino students, um, to make sure that they are successful at your institution, um, and really kind of, yeah, really pushing that forward beyond just did you enroll students check,

Daphné Vanessa (13:50): Thank you. That's super helpful. And before we get into the deep, deep weeds, I would love to share with the audience, your story for how you became who you are today and sort of start to finish. Yeah.

Janette Martinez (14:06): Um, I have a very existential question. Um, but I think who I am and like who I am today is to someone who's really focused on, uh, racial equity in higher education. And for the purpose of ensuring that like all Americans, especially those weapons behind black and Latinex communities are able to succeed. Um, and I think the pandemic has made those inequities so much clear and so much more stark. And so I feel like it's the time to push on this. And I feel like, um, so much of this is just from my own lived experience. Um, and wanting to, not just being able to go to college, get a master's if you, one of the few, you know, with like less than 10% of Latinos have a master's. Um, I don't even, I don't, I feel like a lot of people say they don't want to pull the ladder up from under them, but I like to think of it as like, I don't want there to have to be a ladder.

Janette Martinez (15:05): I want to like, completely like, get rid of those barriers so that there can be mobility for all without having to figure out how do I get this? How do I get onto the ladder? Um, and so that's kind of where, where I am now, um, in being able to do this after having grown up, um, daughter of immigrants in Southern California, moved to Texas to a suburb and saw vast disparities based on, you know, how ho housing prices. Um, and so, like I said, just what do I need to do to help break down those barriers altogether? Um, and for me, her education was the way which were my social mobility, social and economic mobility, and chosen to focus on this work.

Daphné Vanessa (15:52): Thank you for sharing. You've basically been across the United States from the west coast to the middle of the country, to the east coast. You know, it all, Jeanette,

Janette Martinez (16:02): Thank you. I consider myself a context of the most

Daphné Vanessa (16:07): Okay. Texas is very big ego and everything.

Janette Martinez (16:11): Just kidding. Exactly. No, it's true. I will, I won't fight you on that

Daphné Vanessa (16:17): Buddy that I know from Texas is very Texas, you know, so we can get serious again, guys. Sorry for breaking it up. You know, I just tend to do that from time to time. Um, but yeah, let's talk about some of those solutions. Um, I really appreciated that that's the mindset that you're coming towards is what are the solutions to this problem? Not only identifying the problems. So can you speak high-level about where you're going with solutions generally?

Janette Martinez (16:52): Definitely. Um, so when it comes to student aid and it specifically, sorry, student loans, I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done on both ends, like both the front end and the, um, and like for your current, for those who are coming into college and looking to go to college, but then also those who have already completed and gone through college, um, which I actually, one of my favorite pieces that I wrote while I was at excellent was, uh, just a blog post called both. And we need both loan, forgiveness, um, and financial and increase financial aid for Latinos. And I know that's a big ask to, for all, for a lot of funding, um, but loan forgiveness, we can, we just from pulling some data, um, even just the amounts that are being discussed now with 10,000 or 50,000 in loan for student loan forgiveness would have a significant impact on Latino students.

Janette Martinez (17:48): Um, and that's, you know, borrowers who have not that much student loan debt who have that, what is it? 98% of Latino students who began, uh, in 2012, uh, had under $50,000 in student loan debt. So that $50,000, uh, forgiveness could have a huge impact. And, uh, and helping Latinos recover from the, from the pandemic, that's really disproportionately impacted our community. Uh, and at the same time for those students who are trying to go to college, we know Latinos had a huge drop in enrollment during the pandemic financial aid, knowing that there is funding for them to attend and continuing the work and continue, um, and their schoolwork can have a really big impact as well, such as doubling the Pell grant, the amount of the Pell grant and a rethinking through, uh, the campus beta ACE campus bait aid programs that I mentioned earlier that are part of title four, uh, given that Latino students are actually underrepresented in those programs, uh, given the way that it's the way that it's set up.

Janette Martinez (18:57): Um, and if I can get into the weeds on that, or I don't know if that's too soon, let me know, I'll go for it, go for it, take a dive. So, uh, so campus based aid, including federal work study, uh, is distributed on a formula that was set in place. So sometime in the 19 hundreds, I wish I had the exact date on me, but basically on every year, the, when the funding goes out, it really grandfathers and protects those institutions that have been around for a really long time and are especially concentrated in the Northeast. So we're thinking a Yale gets a lot of federal work study money, um, and, uh, those institutions, those institutions don't necessarily enroll like high amounts of Latino students, a high amount of low income students, whereas the, uh, institutions, especially community colleges and states like California and Texas are newer and are not having first dibs at that money.

Janette Martinez (20:02): And so they ended up not getting as much money, even though it would probably go a lot further and helping their students, um, and they, those are institutions that have students with much higher need as well. Uh, so I know in the past couple, uh, proposals for the higher education act, there have been, uh, pieces in there to phase out this formula. So that would actually go to institutions based on the need of their students. And that's one that we've always like have been supported of, of how do you restructure a campus based aid so that it actually goes to those institutions that are enrolling the highest number of low-income students and gets rid of the grandfather grandfathering clause.

Shamil Rodriguez (20:43): I guess what's been some of the pushback for these, this specific idea that you've seen. So on the hill,

Janette Martinez (20:48): Um, it's a lot of the push back is, I mean, it's just like rightfully so, like protecting constituents and you never want to say like, oh, my college should get less money because it would mean doing, uh, redoing the formula would mean that an institution would get less federal work study money. They would just get, or therefore meaning less money than they are getting now. Um, so we've heard a lot of support from people, um, saying, you know, why don't we just make the pot bigger and that big pilot needs to then, you know, can be better distributed amongst those colleges. Oh, cause then that would leave more money for the colleges that are, that have a higher percentage of low income students. I think just, it's hard to say, yes, let's give my institution less money.

Shamil Rodriguez (21:37): Yeah. I could, I could believe that. I could see that being an issue. It may not be, uh, too popular with the board or anyone for that matter at the school.

Janette Martinez (21:49): Exactly. Yeah. The people who voted you in, they're like, it makes sense. Like, I understand why you, you know, I understand where you're coming from. Um, but at the same time,

Shamil Rodriguez (22:02): What about the, the idea of like growth, not necessarily growing just the pot, but I know president Biden with, uh, the latest, uh, package that he, that he presented and we discussed your on the pod before, uh, proposed an increase in the programs. So is that a enough or where do you, where do you see it going in terms of where this administration has? Um, focused?

Janette Martinez (22:27): Definitely. Um, the increasing the Pell grant I think is definitely a great start. And I appreciate that in the, uh, American families being president Biden recognize that this is an important first step towards doubling the Pell grant, which we know that doubling the Pell grant would have a much larger impact on a student afforded a student's ability to afford college. So that's definitely a great place to start. Um, and it just in our research on Latinos and my research on Latinos, I know that that's, uh, the Pell grant is incredibly helpful for Latinos because it's actually the type of financial aid that they are most likely to receive in comparison to loans and federal work-study award. So, uh, yeah, in comparison to loans and federal work-study awards about 47% of Latinos receive a Pell grant, um, which is second highest, uh, compared to black students.

Janette Martinez (23:21): So it's one that can go a really long way and helping black and Latinex students and really help, uh, fill that gap. Um, and then yeah, and really help fill that need gap. Um, so it's definitely a good place to start. Uh, and yet at the same right now, the federal Pell grant, and even with, you know, these $2,000 increases again are very welcome. It's still not to be enough to cover tuition at a four year institution, especially I know, um, but in conjunction with some of these other proposals, such as free community college and a Pell grant that can really go much farther away and helping to, um, to cover that full cost of college, which includes housing books, food, transportation, all of these other things that we don't necessarily think of when we think of like the quote traditional college experience, where you're at the dorm and you walk five minutes to your class. Absolutely.

Shamil Rodriguez (24:17): And I mean, these expenses are usually overlooked because they're not, they don't fall, they don't lump them into tuition. Right. And so it's very easy to lose sight of those additional student fees and everything else for that matter that gets added or those indirect expenses that gets added into having the ability to go to school

Janette Martinez (24:36): In the first place. What about the w w what

Shamil Rodriguez (24:39): About your thoughts on the, on the idea that, uh, are they, I guess we can go a little bit to the American families plan cause it, I mean, it is the most recent idea out there in terms of addressing these issues, or at least beginning to address these issues. Where do you, where do you see the first two years of paying for community college fitting into this larger picture, especially since we know that Latino students end up going to other more public schools or community colleges as a safer and smarter financial decision, not just because it's a better education.

Janette Martinez (25:11): Definitely. Yeah. I think the American family's plan did a good job of thinking through the full scope of what it would take to have a successful community college plan, including as you said, Latinas are already enrolling in these institutions. And so that would be a really great place to just literally meet students where they are or where they're going to be. And so this would be a great way to help cover those costs of tuition, which tuition at community college has remained fairly low. Uh, but because it would be, if I remember correctly, I'll have to double check, but I'm pretty sure that it was tuition would be covered by this plan. And students would still have the Pell grant or any other aid that they received to then cover their, those additional costs that we just mentioned that are not included in tuition, but are still a key part important in college because I was, I think, I think that was a big issue when we first started, we started seeing free college programs that were set up as last dollar programs.

Janette Martinez (26:16): So it was essentially just working on filling the gap between, you know, you have $4,000 in tuition and you receive a $3,000 Pell grant. So the free to the free college program with a last dollar would fill in those lost $1,000. So then a student isn't left with any funding, any grant funding to cover all those additional costs. And so the American families plan, and I think that will check, but, um, would allow students to use their Pell grant for those additional costs, um, because tuition will have already been covered. So I think that's really great. And I also appreciate that there's also additional funding going into these, um, institutional capacity programs, um, including for HSIs, um, and other MSIs HBCU tribal colleges, so that they can continue to build their capacity to better serve their students and better support their students all the way through. Um, because I think that's another question of like, if community colleges are then met with an influx of students and don't have the funding to build out those services and do them well, um, is that a disservice to everyone involved? And so this program includes funding for that, um, to kind of think through, think through those questions. Great. Yeah.

Shamil Rodriguez (27:31): And I think it does a great job of also addressing, like you said, to giving the ability for the student to actually use that additional funding for those indirect expenses, which includes, you know, childcare family care, especially if you're going part-time as a non-traditional student at a community college as a first step, uh, that can really go a long way. If you have access to more of those, uh, I would say non traditional wraparound services. So let's say the school doesn't necessarily have them yet, but having extra money may allow for you to afford the ability to, uh, take advantage of some of those opportunities that you wouldn't be able to do so beforehand, because it was just an unnecessary expense or a luxury that you couldn't afford.

Janette Martinez (28:13): Hey, exactly, exactly. I was going to say,

Shamil Rodriguez (28:15): So Jeanette, tell us, uh, a little bit about, uh, what are some of the other ideas that you think that are, that are on the table right now that you think need to come out, uh, to help address these issues?

Janette Martinez (28:30): Definitely in terms of, in terms of the supporting Latino success, Latino student success, thinking through student loan repayment is another big issue that needs to be addressed as well. So it's, so I know just for myself personally, I had a difficult time trying to work towards student loan, public service, student loan forgiveness, and that has always had an interest in, I mean, I decided to take on the loans, knowing, and like, and felt comfortable with public student loan forgiveness, because I always saw myself in public service. So it didn't have a dramatic impact on my, on my career trajectory. And at the same time, sometimes, you know, if I've ever thought about working on a campaign and I'm like, oh, well, I wouldn't be able to count that towards my loan forgiveness, um, things like that. Um, and at the same time, my time as a teacher actually didn't count towards public student loan forgiveness, uh, because I was in the wrongly payment plan.

Shamil Rodriguez (29:27): Okay. I was about to ask you that because we had a guest on Betsy may out who, uh, actually has, uh, is the founder of the organization, uh, Tesla, uh, and they, they give free advice for individuals or anyone that contacts them for student loan advice. And so she had on one of our episodes actually discussed that, you know, being a public school teacher allows for you to take advantage of the program. But that's interesting to note that, that, that little wrinkle right there, you know, a lot of, for you not to take advantage of that time, that you were

Janette Martinez (30:02): Exactly. Yeah. And it really is just such a maze. So at the while I was a teacher, I was also paying on my Perkins loans, which were the, the campus spades campus based aid loans that were available at the time. Um, they are not available unfortunately anymore. They just haven't been funded, um, with Perkins loans. Uh, but for my time as a teacher, I got like a, every year that I taught, I had some percentage dropped down. So by the time I was done, I had received about half of it forgiven. And so pieces like that, I know that's been one proposal that's been put out often. It's like, what is public service loan? Forgiveness is a tiered program. Like you get a certain percentage forgiven for however many, however many number of years that you've been working in nonprofits, government, et cetera. Um, instead of what, you know, the issues that we found now, when people are trying to apply for public service loan forgiveness, PSLF a few, uh, this, this last year, two years ago, um, I don't know, time anymore.

Janette Martinez (31:05): And there were a lot of people who were depending on it and were unable to qualify because they were on the wrong repayment plan for 10 years, but no one ever told them. Um, so I think just like I'm going, especially when so many students have, you know, that they were going to be able to make work for them, uh, has been a big one. And I remember having to ask around, I'm like, I literally worked with a ton of higher education experts, and this is what it's taken for me to understand what repayment plan I need to be in what I need to be doing. And so, um, I have now been able to pass on that information to my friends, to my sisters who recently graduated college, how do you, how do you get into the right plan and make sure that, you know, you're working towards potential forgiveness and what if you're in between jobs?

Janette Martinez (31:51): How do we navigate that? Um, again, it shouldn't take an expert to do that, like an expert in higher education, uh, to figure that out. So, um, so I think that's one of the big points is trying to figure out how to, um, consolidate these eight different loan forgive, or eight different repayment plans that are income-based. And then there's also the graduated plan and the standard plans. There's so many different ones, um, how to make it clearer and easier for students to be able to, to go right into the payment plan that works best for them. Um, and therefore avoid, you know, these hurdles that I, that I face. And I'm lucky that I just, you know, lost a few years of forgiveness, but it's fine. I didn't fall into default. I didn't, you know, I wasn't delinquent on my loans. And so I'm one of the lucky ones because often these, um, mazes lead to default and delinquency, uh, which is a really, can be really harming your credit and your ability to, to live, to like, have a hat, like have a good paying job and, you know, make a life if you have these things against you.

Shamil Rodriguez (33:01): Yeah. That's a very, a very real issue that people face every day here, uh, because of student loans. And that's, that's a big part of the catalyst of why this show exists in the first place. So I'm glad you actually mentioned that, but Daphne, did you want to jump in there

Daphné Vanessa (33:16): PSLF and your experience with that? Can you just share with the audience, whether or not you notified the servicer that you were having, that you were, you know, employed at an institution that would have qualified, were there conversations there or how, how did you end up not getting on the right plan?

Janette Martinez (33:40): Definitely. Uh, I don't think I notified my servicer at the time. I think I was just making my payments, my repayments, um, and just looking honestly, was just looking for the cheapest option. I think I went with a graduated plan and no one told me, like, actually an income driven repayment plan is available. You could go into that one instead, and it would actually be lower, um, which then would have sent me up for loan forgiveness as well. Um, so I didn't, I didn't get any of that sort of counseling either. I just kind of went with what it said on my statement and paid that. Yeah. So there weren't any conversations. And I also don't think, I really knew very much about this is another issue. I also didn't really know much about public service loan forgiveness when I was a teacher that wasn't necessarily something I was working towards. And so I think I gave that feedback when I, uh, left teaching and learned about it. Once I was in grad school, like told my friends who were still working there, like, Hey, there's actually a really huge benefit for everyone working together. We should do something about it. No, I think

Daphné Vanessa (34:44): That's helpful for the audience just because, you know, I was trying to understand, was this more of a lack of information issue or was it a servicer you DAP issue? So just there have been different stories with the public student loan forgiveness debacle. And so I was just interested in hearing what your story was sent. You know, this is the student loan podcast. Um, cool. Um, very nice. So we've gone to some solutions we've gone into some different options for what the government could do. Is there any solution for the Latino community or Latinex, sorry. That is the modern way of saying it I'm old. Um, but is there a modern day solution that allows for more control by the borrower? And when I say that, I mean, we've talked about a lot of solutions on the government's part. Where is the, where does the responsibility of the borrower start?

Janette Martinez (35:52): That's a great question. As I mentioned, I am able to be on like the path that I'm on towards like loan forgiveness and provide feedback to support to my siblings and my friends. Um, because I, I study this and I do this kind of work. Um, and I think it just, it just because it is such a, such a complicated maze, um, I think borrowers are doing the best that they can in order to make sure that they're fulfilling their, their pieces, um, fulfilling their monthly payments and making sure that they are not going to, um, default or have any delinquency. And so that's, I think that's just like the place I think they're doing what they're being asked to do, which is great. Like I'm going to pay what I have and what I'm able to pay. Um, and that's just, I think that's just like unfortunate that too many people lose out on what are some actually really good benefits built into the federal loan SIS federal student loan system, because they just don't know about it, or they might not know how to, how to access them or how to complete the right paperwork for example.

Janette Martinez (36:59): Got

Daphné Vanessa (36:59): It. So, so in terms of a borrower taking the initiative to educate oneself or taking on a side hustle or any, anything else to reduce the cost of education, do you have any advice on that front for how borrowers can avoid just even being involved with the student loan system?

Janette Martinez (37:23): Oh, definitely. I think that is such an interesting question. Um, because I, it's just so interesting because it impacts every community so differently. And I know for me, I was, I mentioned like I grew up in Southern California and I moved to Texas to a mostly suburban high school, mostly around a lot of white students who just knew that like student loans were going to be part of their college going experience and investment. That's going to pay off, you're going to pay it off in a couple of years. You just needed to fill that gap. You can go to the college that you want. And that mindset is just so different from especially Latinex communities who have rightfully are, you know, nervous about borrowing, seeing the way that loans have impacted our communities. We're seeing that people have IM uh, difficulties with that. Um, and so I think Latino students are a great example of how you can make it, um, how you can adjust, um, and fit into a financial system that isn't necessarily made for, for them.

Janette Martinez (38:21): So we see often, um, attending, as I said, like going to a community college, um, is, is, can be really, really helpful in lowering those costs. Uh, but at the same time, I'm all I'm, I'm never like fully like, yes, go because, uh, there's often issues with transfer credit loss, or when you transfer to the four-year institution, the institution might not take that credit as what you took it as. So there's always that caveat of like, this could be a way, but it might also actually end up being more expensive if you have to take those credits again. Um, so there's issues like that. Um, I worked through both my undergraduate and graduate degree and that really helped. Um, but I was lucky to get into some like higher paying jobs that were able to cover some of my, at the very least some of my rent and food.

Janette Martinez (39:14): Um, and I know that that can really be helpful. And at the same time, we know that there's that sweet spot in, in work hours. I think it's like between like 10 and 20 hours a week can really help students, you know, feel engaged and, uh, while they're in school, uh, but most students are working over 30 hours, many working part time, which then can have a negative impact on studies as on study as well. So, um, there's a lot that, that students can do. Um, and they're trying, um, I always just think back to this, to reports and studies that have come out, showing that actually students who borrow, um, have had higher graduation rates have had higher retention rates, which is not to say that borrowing is the solution, but it's really just that. How do you fill that gap? Like making sure that the gap can be filled with some sort of aid, ideally aid instead of loans, uh, can actually help a student like actually complete their degree in a timely manner and move, move forward in life. Yep.

Daphné Vanessa (40:17): That makes a lot of sense. So going into rapid round, I have a few questions for you that in the rapid round, we basically are just looking for short, quick answers that come on the top of your head. So I'm going to get started and you don't have a lot of time to think about the answer. Good luck. Okay. Is college for everyone? Yes. Okay. What's the best part about student loans?

Janette Martinez (40:52): Um, yeah, I mean, for me, it really, it helped me be where I am today. I belonged, I would not have been able to go and do my master's without student loans. And so, um, that's, that has been really helpful in helping me pursue my, my, my dreams.

Daphné Vanessa (41:11): Why higher education

Janette Martinez (41:13): In general, or for me, for you, for me, like why, why did I pursue higher education? Yes. Um, well, it was honestly, uh, my parents, since, you know, since the day I was born now, since the first day I can remember saying you're going to go to college, you're going to go to college. There's no one else in our family had gone. I'm the oldest, but also amongst my cousins, family members, like they had not gone. And they're like, you're going to be the one you're going to be the one to do it. Um, yeah. So, um, yeah, so it was just embedded in me from early on, which is really amazing when I think about it, I was like, wow. Someone with a similar story. I wonder, I wonder

Shamil Rodriguez (41:57): It's, it's, it's, it's, it is very common, at least in my circles. That, that was it. I mean, literally as the same thing for you to that, I can not remember a day where I was not told that I'm going to college. It wasn't a question. It wasn't a thought it was like, that is what the next step is going to be. And however, we're going to figure that out. We will do it and we luckily have a big family, so we were able to figure that out. Um, but no, I think it's really funny definitely that you, you bring that out, but let's, let's, let's go back to Jeanette, but I had to plug it in. I had

Janette Martinez (42:37): To plug it in,

Daphné Vanessa (42:39): You know, you know how you do. Um, and last one, are you ready? Yes. Which country has the best education system?

Janette Martinez (42:49): Oh, wow. Um, I honestly, I mean, I mean, it doesn't full honesty. I, I have not done very much comparative, uh, education knowledge to like comparing to how other, other countries do this.

Daphné Vanessa (43:09): Good answer. Since it's a rapid

Speaker 5 (43:10): Round, this is not a pot. This is not the policy round.

Janette Martinez (43:15): I'm just going to say the U S because it's allowed me to. Yeah. Like I struggle with that because it's done, as I said, it allowed me to have that social and economic mobility. Uh, and at the same time, both me and my, my, my siblings, my family, and at the same time, I know that higher education, um, can often just make those gaps larger, those equity gaps larger and contribute to inequality. So, absolutely. And

Shamil Rodriguez (43:42): I think a really positive spin there as well, is that you're, you're, like you said, you're the daughter of immigrant parents that came here to the states to pursue something better, whatever that meant. Right. Like whatever that meant and education played a part in that, right? Like it's just a very, and Daphne could attest to, this is a very immigrant perspective, right? Lawyer, doctor engineer, very limited scope as to what you should do, but no matter what it includes education, right. It's really that, that equalizer in a very big way. Uh, and so even though there was a comparative analysis and we were not going to give you the time to do that.

Shamil Rodriguez (44:24): Um, what, what I appreciate about that answer is that it, you, you sincerely answered like, look, it gives you that, that, like you said, upper mobility, it gives you that ability to change the trajectory of your family. Not only educate, you know, from the perspective of education, but financially, right? Like this all plays a role and really just allowing you to have the stability and the peace of mind. Right. Oftentimes we overlook and I say, we, me and whoever, um, whoever the collective we is in this statement, um, overlook the importance of how those little ones might help. Cause like a peace of mind to say like, Hey, I don't have to stress about this for right now. I can focus on my education. Right. And for me, I'm seeing me on a personal level here. But for me, that gave me that peace of mind to know that, like I wasn't concerned about whether or not I was going to have enough next semester and you know, so, um, thank you for sharing. That was good. Definitely. Those are really good questions. I actually know all of them. So I was like, oh man, let's see where Def is going.

Janette Martinez (45:25): That was really good. Yeah, they were.

Shamil Rodriguez (45:32): That was good. But, uh, Jeanette, let me ask you one question. Now this is not a rapid round question. This is the question I like to ask all of our guests. Um, and it's, if you were in the, and something that happens to a lot of like first-generation college students is the idea of giving advice to everyone else because you were the first one to go, right. Like it just seems to happen to be like a natural consequences. Is that something that you've gone through too, right? Yeah. Right. So, so with that being said, we have a lot of listeners that are in that situation now. Right. They may not have a friend that's going to give them advice or are figuring it out themselves for the first time. And if you were speaking to someone right now, who's down in the dumps who doesn't know how they're going to figure it out. Uh, and, and just don't, they just don't know which way to go. What would be the advice that you would want to give

Janette Martinez (46:18): Them? Yeah. I just, I feel like I'm going to answer this with a story on my cause now that you've mentioned family and being the first it's like, it's, it just brought up something new for me. I think the short answer, the advice is just like, it's the way it's going to work out the way that it, that it's supposed to work out. And even though you might not see it in the moment, it well, um, and that there's just no one way to, to pursue higher education and pay for it. So, as I mentioned, story and family, the oldest of four, um, and my sisters all went to college in completely different ways than I did. I did the traditional quote traditional again, it's not the norm anymore, but it's known as traditional four year college, uh, paid for some of it with some student loans and, you know, straight from high school.

Janette Martinez (47:07): Whereas my sister after me, the two years at a community college, three years at a four-year institution and that my sister, after that, I did five years at a four year institution. Didn't take out loans, worked through the entire thing. And so, and we're all, I'm really like thankful to say doing pretty well right now, again for, for family, for, uh, and the youngest one, my, my baby brother is graduating actually in a week and a half. I get to go home and watch him cross the stage. It's going to be, yeah, I still don't know where he's going to call it, which is like really frustrating. Cause I'm like, I can help you.

Janette Martinez (47:46): I'm hoping he'll follow in my footsteps and be a fellow Longhorn, um, at UT Austin. Um, but anyways, so I'm thankful that all of us having taken our different paths, um, are, have been gainfully employed throughout the pandemic and have been able to, uh, find, find jobs that really fulfill what we want to do and have felt like financial security through all this as well, which is, is I, again, we're really a blessing and a pandemic, especially amongst Latinos. And so there's so many different ways to go and whatever, uh, whatever feels best for you, whatever is going to decrease your stress at whatever moment and make you, and allow you to actually focus on your studies and complete it. Um, that's, that's the right path for you. So was like I said, I took up, I took out loans because I knew that I just wanted to focus on studying. Whereas my sisters were like, we want to borrow less because we know that knowing that that's over our heads is going to make me anxious. So we're going to work. We go to school. So there's so many different ways. Um, and all of them, uh, that whichever one allows you to complete that degree and get that return on or get that wage increase. Uh, it's the, it's the best one.

Shamil Rodriguez (48:58): That is very good advice. That's great advice. I haven't

Daphné Vanessa (49:01): Heard that before and I liked that you're allowing for people to be flexible and still think like, look, you know, what, whatever gives you the less, the least amount of stress is how you're and that's true. So, so simple, but so true.

Shamil Rodriguez (49:18): Very true. Um, so Jeanette, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your advice and, uh, and your wisdom. And you can tell that you love the subject matter and that you take the time to study it. And I'm really grateful that you shared that with us and with the listeners on the show. Uh, how can people get in touch with you right now if they wanted to reach you?

Janette Martinez (49:41): Definitely. I think that easiest way is Twitter. Um, I love, I love being on there a little too much sometimes. So [inaudible] Uh, yeah. So Jeanette J a N E T T E underscore M uh, on Twitter, um, or people can email me same email. So Jeanette dot N the number 12 and female. Uh, so those are, I think, but I think Twitter is probably the, that's probably the easiest thing to remember for sure.

Shamil Rodriguez (50:13): And we'll, we'll include that in the show notes, so don't worry, we'll make sure that, that it gets out there for you. Yep.

Janette Martinez (50:19): Yep.

Shamil Rodriguez (50:21): All right. So is Jeanette, is there anything else that you'd like to share with the audience before we wrap up today?

Janette Martinez (50:27): No, nothing specific. I think this is a great podcast that you all have put together. Um, I know you've had some rock stars on this, uh, on this podcast as really, really smart people working in higher education. Uh, so thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity. This that's been so great or you're welcome.

Shamil Rodriguez (50:43): Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us and with our audience. And we look forward to hopefully working with you in some way or another

Janette Martinez (50:49): In the future. Definitely. Thanks, Jeanette. All right. Great take care. Thank you, you too.

Shamil Rodriguez (50:56): For more information on today's episode, visit student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 31. That's the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 31.

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