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Kean President Calls for National Solution to Student Debt Crisis

Sen. Menendez, Pres. Repollet, Sen. Booker, and Kean students Jason Pleitez and Delia Latini on a Zoom computer screen.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Kean students Jason Pleitez and Delia Latini participated in a virtual roundtable on student loan debt.

Kean University President Lamont Repollet, Ed.D., joined Kean students and national leaders on a virtual panel Wednesday to discuss potential solutions to the student loan debt crisis around the country.

“Even here at Kean – with all of our efforts and our focus on keeping a Kean University degree affordable – many of our students graduate with debt that saddles them as they launch their professional lives,” Repollet told political leaders and advocates. “As a country, we simply must find solutions for these graduates to help them launch their careers and support their families. It will benefit generations of college students and contribute to a healthier economy.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez sponsored the virtual forum calling on the Biden administration to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for federal student loan borrowers. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, N.J. Institute for Social Justice President Ryan Haygood, N.J. NAACP President Richard T. Smith, and Howard University Alumni Club President Velva Dawson joined the conversation along with Kean students Jason Pleitez and Delia Latini.

“We know education is important,” said Pleitez, a senior business major and president of the Student Government Association. “Every aspiring student should have the liberty to seek a higher education without the fear of accumulating thousands of dollars of debt.”

Repollet pledged to continue the conversation about student loan debt on Kean’s campus with the President’s Advisory Council, a student group, and others, helping students tap into resources that could reduce debt such as the state’s new Garden State Guarantee program. 

Kean, the most affordable comprehensive university in New Jersey, will also work with graduating seniors to educate them about predatory lending practices and ways to handle any debt they may have upon graduation.

Latini, who is a communication studies major and a triplet, said the cost of her undergraduate degree was extremely important to her because she plans to go to law school.

“I wanted a school that could give me the most, but be the most affordable,” Latini said. “I would like to pursue a law degree, and student debt affects that decision, whether I will go to law school or work first.”

Repollet and others on the forum said the student loan debt problem falls disproportionately on students of color and first-generation students.

“As a minority-serving institution and a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Kean has many students who are the first in their families to go to college. We are proud of the work we do to make Kean the most affordable comprehensive university in New Jersey,” he said. “It is our moral obligation to do everything we can to support them.”