When Clint Myrick graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010, he left with two consequential pieces of paper: a diploma for a bachelor’s degree in music education — and an eye-popping student loan bill.

The Milwaukee native was one of the first in his family to attend college, and Myrick said he entered with little knowledge of how to pay for it.

“I was totally unprepared,” Myrick said. “I didn’t know how much it cost … I kind of had to figure out everything on my own.”

Myrick held a number of jobs during college to help pay the bills, from working at a flower shop to running a cash register at the UW-Milwaukee student union. He earned about $6 an hour, and student loans allowed him to pay for school.

Over a decade later, Myrick’s student loan debt has only ballooned, even after years of payments. In 2015 he consolidated $118,473 worth of loans, but interest has pushed the debt to $152,039, the highest it has ever been. The husband and father of three works multiple jobs to service the debt. He spends an extra 20 to 30 hours a week as an Uber driver outside of his full-time job for a bank and duties as president for the Milwaukee chapter of the Black fraternity he belonged to in college, Alpha Phi Alpha.

Myrick is not alone in this struggle. In Wisconsin, about 710,000 people owe an estimated $24.4 billion in federal student loan debt, with the median debt at $17,323, according to Gov. Tony Evers’ 2020 task force on student loan debt. Nationally, the toll of crippling levels of student debt on tens of millions of Americans has prompted some calls for wide-ranging loan forgiveness.

That burden weighs on students unevenly. According to EducationData.org, Black and African-American college graduates owe around $25,000 more in student loan debt on average than their white counterparts. The same report also found that four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owe around 12.5% more than they originally borrowed.

Read the full article about canceling student debt by Alyssa Huglen at The 74.