Going to college has become a losing proposition for a growing number of minority youth in Colorado who find themselves burdened with student debt in an economy that is short on good-paying jobs.
"I know several people, including two very close friends, who ... have degrees, but also have a lot of debt and because they can't find work, they end up mowing lawns," Jason Chavez, a business administration student at a Denver university, told Efe.
"They earn the same as before (they went to college), but they have more debts. I don't want that to happen to me," he said.
To avoid such a fate, the 28-year-old Chavez put off going to college, chose a university that offers reduced tuition and continues to work "almost full-time" while taking classes.
Jason, who opens to start his own long-distance trucking company, is also putting away money in hopes of enabling his younger siblings to attend college full-time without working.
That goal, however, appears to be increasingly difficult to achieve in Colorado, according to the report Measuring Opportunities for Working Families, released Thursday by the Bell Policy Center, a nonpartisan social science research organization.
Though the state's unemployment and poverty rates are slightly below the national averages, the number of Colorado working families living below the poverty line swelled by nearly 50 percent from 2004 to 2012.
"As changes in the job market have made some level of post-secondary education and training more essential, higher education has become significantly less affordable and less accessible to low-income families," the report notes.
The relatively low numbers of minority adults pursuing post-secondary education "highlight a serious weakness in Colorado's educational system and are indicative of the institutional barriers and competitive disadvantages low-income and minority Coloradans face in attempting to achieve self-sufficiency and upward economic mobility," the authors say.