March 24, 2019 | 47° F

Rutgers alumnus looks at student loan debt in run for 6th Congressional District

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Javahn Walker, a candidate for New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District, said he used to challenge the opinions of his conservative classmates over topics like the Iraq War. Walker is and always has considered himself a liberal person. 

Rutgers alumnus Javahn Walker never anticipated his liberal ideologies and economics degree would evolve into a run for New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District. 

The Bordentown native moved to Georgia at 12 years old — taking his inherently liberal views into an environment which he considered heavily conservative at the time.

“I always felt about my stances as being the right ones, and I’ve always stayed true to my stances, such as back then, like 13 years ago, about the Iraq War when it was just starting, (sic)” he said. “I used to argue with a lot of people I went to school with about the purpose of our military combat in Iraq.”

Shortly after graduating high school in 2010, Walker moved back to New Jersey, joining the University’s Class of 2015 with a major in economics. He is currently going on his third year working as an auditor at a New York City bank. 

“Due to (President Donald J. Trump's) presidential wing, as well as what’s going on in Washington and how dysfunctional it is, I decided that I want to make a difference within the 6th Congressional District, and I know I can make that difference,” he said.

Having an outspoken disposition and making sure that people understand the information projected on the news and in their classrooms are a few qualities Walker said he learned during his undergraduate education — a time in which former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Hillary Clinton and Trump inspired his run for Congress.

Student loans and higher education are some of the many issues Walker highlights in his campaign. 

“Especially at Rutgers, how student fees subsidized the athletic program but how much money the athletic programs waste on trying to recruit students while the students themselves or the parents have to subsidize the departments like athletics, (sic)” Walker said.

He said his degree in economics helped him think outside the box. Helping him expand his creativity, his liberal arts major allows him to find different solutions to issues, like the student loan debt crisis, from different angles.

For some students, moving out from underneath the umbrella of parental support can be challenging. A misunderstanding on how to budget finances and student loans is a larger issue, not unique to Rutgers, and relies on lower-level educational institutions that teach students how to manage loan payback rates, among other things, Walker said. 

“Here’s a perfect example a couple of months before I graduated. They’re going to give you the option of whether you want to take the 10-year program or the 25-year program to pay back your student loans, and most people, they’re not going to think about income base for payment,” he said.

Choosing a shorter pay window creates an additional financial burden for students interested in purchasing a home within their first 10 years after graduation, Walker said. Someone earning $1,000 a month with $600 in loan payments is already at a disadvantage when applying for a mortgage as banks see their high monthly spending. 

As the country’s national student loan debt continues to exceed $1.41 trillion, the average student in 2018 owes $31,333 after a four-year education, according to the student loan report. Students who chose not to pursue higher education can either enter the workforce, enroll in technical school or fly overseas for their education — a decision that would be detrimental to the resource within the United States, Walker said. 

He suggests that Rutgers, along with other universities, cut back on rooming costs and first-year meal plan requirements — those which do not allow the first-year student to take under a certain amount of meal swipes — as a way to limit debt increases. 

“The students are absolutely robbed when it comes to universities such as Rutgers," Walker said. “I love Rutgers with all my heart, but the financing of it is just robbing students. It’s awful.”

Christian Zapata

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