We Need Student Debt Cancellation to Live and Thrive

Blog author Shayna

My name is Shayna Schafter (she/her). I’m 25, and I live in Duluth with my partner and pet ragamuffin cat. I graduated from the College of Saint Scholastica in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Peace & Justice Studies. I currently work as a Special Education Paraprofessional for Duluth Edison Charter Schools, NorthStar Academy. My community involvement is with the YWCA Duluth’s Board of Directors serving on the Communication and Personnel Committees. My leisure time is spent doing yoga, hiking, reading, and sewing! Next year, I will be moving to Scotland, where I will study to earn an MSc in Play Therapy! 

Canceling student debt would mean a lot to me because I would be more able to afford to live comfortably and advance my education. I entered my undergraduate at St. Scholastica from a low-income, single parent, seven older sibling, household. I worked hard in high school so that I would qualify for Bachelor’s scholarships (and that hard work continued throughout my undergraduate studies). Even with Federal Assistance and scholarships, I had to work three jobs to pay the remainder of my tuition. In addition, I ended up needing to take out some personal loans to afford my undergraduate studies. Since graduating with a Bachelor’s, it has been difficult to find entry-level work that pays a live-able wage and also feels rewarding. 

Before the pandemic hit, and student loans were placed on hold, my financial situation was a living balancing act. I was surviving paycheck to paycheck – paying bills to make sure my basic needs were met in addition to my monthly student loan payments. 

I entered college financially illiterate, however, I had always been smart/frugal with my money and had help from my own parent who had been through college before themselves. Now, I am going to advance my education by pursuing a Masters Degree. I will have to take out additional loans in order to reach my ultimate career goals. 

With student loan cancellation (for undergraduate debt), I might have a chance to someday pay off all my student loans. 

It is difficult to work with children who are in survival mode if I am always in a survival state myself – worrying about if I will be able to afford rent, groceries, or gas for my car. I would no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck, and might actually be able to give more of myself back to my community. 

Take action for student debt cancellation: sign this petition to let our elected officials know what student debt cancellation would mean for us.

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