In New York City, more than one in six adults – about 1 million people – have at least one student loan. Collectively, these New Yorkers owe $34.8 billion! What should students and their families know before taking out a loan to pay for college? How do student loans impact your future?

In the spring of 2019, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Elizabeth Peralta and Grace Beniquez’s internship class at the International Community High School (ICHS) in the Bronx to dig deep into the issue of student loan debt and its impact on students and their families. To investigate, students got out of the classroom to speak to community members, interviewed stakeholders working on the issue, and created art to visualize the potential pitfalls of student loans. 

Students created the booklet, A Bet on Debt, to teach others what they learned and to help other students and their families navigate the complicated world of student loans and debt. 

Get your own booklet here!

Check out more photos of students in action here!

What People are Saying

“[This project was] different because we went outside to interview other people to [learn] the percentage of people who have student loans or debt and find out how they resolve that. Also we did a lot of research to draw our thoughts about how life is with or without student loans.” -Naomi Castillo, Student

“This project involves more movement and creativity to express your opinions and knowledge…unlike a regular classrooom where everything is just right or wrong.” – Oumar Kane, Student       

“It was great to [interview] the financial advisors because it also showed that there are people they can go to and they do not have to navigate financial debt alone.” – Elizabeth Peralta, Teaching Artist                                         


Mohammed Alzobidi, Abdoullahi Bah, Emely Caba Rodriguez, Andres Camacho Taveras, Wesly Castillo, Arielys Colon, Noumou Diallo, Serigne Diaw, Lisabel Diaz-Baez, Fresa Fernandez Taveras, Ruddy Garcia, William Garzon, Edwin Genao, Mercedes Jimenez Garcia, Gumersindo Maximino, Jefferson Mojica, Guiemiratou Ouedraogo, Wilson Perez Ramirez, Dahiana Pimental, Yasneiry Plasencia, Fatimata Radji, Mahim Rahaman, Nadia Ripa, Neiny Rivas, Emely Abreu, Md Shihab Akonda, Wafa Alzebidi, Mamadou A Barry, Beatriz Bermudez, Genesis Camacho Perez, Naomi Castillo, Aminata Diop, Mohammed Doukoure, Harol Estevez, Fatoumata Fadiga, Welisabet Familia, Ericson Farias Rosario, Bairon Galeano, Henlly Garcia, Daniel Hernandez, Djenaibou Kaba, Oumar Kane, Alhussein Korain, Yaniel Lugo, Inmanol Padilla Benitez, Michel Payano, Nashley Pichardo, Ambar Polanco, Cinthia Santana, Jason Teliz, Carmen Toribio Martinez, Cristhine Rodriguez, Lisanyi Rodriguez, Ndongo Samb, Naomi Upia, Ameen Ahmed, Nassaratou Alassane, Asmaa Alomari, Henry Camilo, Gabriela Caraballo, Gerilynn Castillo, Yulia Castillo, Nandita Chowdhury, Sherly Colon, Hadiyatoulaye Diallo, Hanzel Estevez, Wellington Familia, Samuel Garcia Payero, Ross Valeryn Hernandez, Yinerolis Hidalgo, Bassrou Juwara, Alhassan Korain, Ian Laboriel Chavez, Amanda Lisbeth Marte, Edison Martinez, Mohammed Numan, Paola Ortiz-Martinez, Milennys Pena Caceres, Ashley Perez Pena, Carla Ramos, Marquina Rojas, Sulayman Sanyang

Resources & Links

The International Community High School is a progressive public school for English language learners in the South Bronx. 

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the Bay and Paul Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Diana Ayala.

Special Thanks

Scott Ahrens, Clair Beltran, James Boyd, Amelia Josephson, Elizaveta Shveitser, and Nidhi Subramanyam 


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Elizabeth Peralta
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • Project Support
  • Leigh Taylor
The International Community High School

Classroom Teacher

Grace Beniquez


Berena Cabarcas