Essence and Freeform’s “grown-ish” collaborated to hold its “grown-ish x broke” event on Feb. 19 at Spelman College to show a screening of the show’s recent episode, which tackled student debt and informed students of some of their options to avoid or reduce student debt.

In the episode, Aaron (Trevor Jackson) prepares to graduate in six months and realizes that he’s required to sign a promissory note to repay over $200K in student debt. With no way to pay back the money, he becomes frantic and tries to find a job.

Eventually, he lands a job as an administrative assistant on campus which will allow him to attend graduate school for free and the master’s degree that he will earn two years later will hopefully put him in a position to pay off the debt later on.

But, besides that, there’s relatively nothing he can do about the massive debt.

Essence’s assistant fashion editor Nandi Howard, along with “grown-ish” actors Diggy Simmons and Chloe Bailey were present during the screening.

“I feel like no matter how much we plan and no matter how much we think something will work out the way we want it to, sometimes it won’t,” Bailey said. “I think that’s the risk we have to be willing to take…everything happens for a reason and is happening so you can grow into the person you need to become. That includes the trials of college and paying for it.”

She went on to say, she does believe higher education is worth the cost even though a job in a particular field is not guaranteed.

According to Forbes, at least 44 million Americans collectively owe $1.46 trillion.

However, Business Insider reports that of those 44 million people, one-in-two African American college graduates default on their student loans at some point within 12 years after leaving school.

Also, graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) take on 32 percent more debt than students at Predominately White Institutions (PWI).

Howard revealed the magazine is going to pay up to $150K in student loans. A select number of students will be chosen from videos they send explaining how being debt-free will help them attain their dreams and have a greater financial standing.

“I say support each other,” Simmons said. “Pick each other up. Let each other in on job opportunities…I think in the Black community more of that needs to be done where we have a network of just helping each other and letting someone know the ways they can grow.”


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