The state of student debt is scary.The total amount of student loan debt keeps growing, as does the average student loan balance for student loan debtors. Americans now owe more in student debt than they do in auto loans or credit cards.Despite new rules to clarify the discharge process for some disabled borrowers, student loans have the potential to follow borrowers for the rest of their lives. They are one of the rare types of loans that cannot be automatically discharged in bankruptcy. And not all student debtors are young people. A growing number of middle-aged Americans are struggling with college debt, either from their own college days or their children's. People in their 40s owe, on average, $6,000 more in student loan debt than people under 30.It's not all bad news. Some states are taking advantage of the exploding student debt problem. If you've been looking to move to Niagara Falls or Kansas, there is a solution for you. Several cities and states are paying off student loan debt to attract qualified workers.What ideas to you have to help with our student debt problem? Share them in the comments below.
A house is not just a piece of property -- it's a space for families and friends to make memories, share struggle and triumph and happiness, and feel safe and secure.For millions of Americans, that's all slipping away, in the most heartbreaking ways.Dozens of Rebuilders have shared their stories of loss and hardship on our America Underwater Tumblr blog. With the news dominated by the latest polls and politics instead of what's really happening to America, we couldn't think of a better time to get this out there.Check out the America Underwater photo blog and share with your friends and family -- Tweet it, share on Facebook, email it. Lift up the voices of other Rebuilders.A few months ago, in partnership with The New Bottom Line, we asked Rebuilders across America whose homes were underwater to submit a photo of themselves standing in front of their home with a piece of paper denoting how much their home was underwater -- meaning they owed more on their home than it was worth. Dozens of homeowners sent in their stories and photos.You can't read these stories and stay on the fence about helping homeowners. If you share this blog and even one friend reads it, you've created real change.We are quickly approaching a vote to pass legislation that would allow homeowners who are current on their payments to refinance their homes. Reading these stories reminds us of what is really at stake here. Places where memories are made. Places for families and friends to gather. Homes.Chances are, you know someone whose home is underwater. It is painful, frustrating, confusing, and isolating. When someone shares their personal story, they start feeling like they have the power to change things. When people feel empowered, they are moved to action. When people are moved to action, it is almost impossible to stop them.Please read the America Underwater Tumblr photo blog and share if you feel moved.
And so I listen. I feign dispassion but I'm not fooling anybody. Somehow they can tell that I care and thank me even as they admit that it isn't my fault, that it isn't my responsibility to listen. I've stood inside another's dream for an hour as they spoke, not really to be heard but to say goodbye - to leave the ghosts behind.The anonymous realtor writes about the process of foreclosure and the almost unbelievable stories that the homeowners share. As anyone can tell you, a home is more than justa a house. It's a powerful place filled with memories.
Sometimes the kids are there, maybe waiting in the car, maybe not. I see the marks on the wall showing how the kids grew over the years. I see the anguished poetry scribbled on the wall by stoned teenagers and the occasional hole punched in the wall. One woman handed me the key to her reinforced bedroom door - during the divorce her now ex-husband was still living in the house and she had to barricade herself in at night. Another said "right there is where I found my son - he couldn't handle losing the house".You can read the entire story on Reddit.
Alexis Frymoyer, a St. Petersburg resident and 2010 college graduate who has $40,000 in student loan debt, described during the conference call how her debt has paralyzed not only her financial future but that of her family.She is unable to pursue the remainder of education she needs because she cannot afford to take on more student loan debt. And she is unable to qualify for a mortgage beyond $40,000, which she said means she is forced to continue paying rental rates that are higher than a mortgage payment would be.Frymoyer worked four part-time jobs last year "just to make ends meet," she said. Her student loans will take an estimated 25 years to be paid off.Read additional stories Rebuild the Dream community members shared with the press below.Florida: Students, grads daunted by debt, despite degree, The News-PressFlorida: Stafford Loan drama scares students, Bradenton HeraldNevada: Student Loans Run Deeper Than College, CBS Local KXNT NewsRadioIllinois: Loan Moan, Alton Daily News/WBGZ RadioIllinois: Buddy, can you spare a dime for college?, The Northwest Herald
There are a million ways to share: Co-op living can make rent cheaper. Car sharing can make a trip home affordable.There’s even a way to share your way beyond student loans. Take it from Eric Meltzer, who learned enough Mandarin -- in five months, with no formal teacher -- to pass his freshman semester at a university in Beijing. His secret (beyond hard work) is to find alternatives, like bartering for a tutor through Skillshare, and prove you don’t need "permission to learn something."Meltzer’s essay is just one essay in the illuminating book Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis. Share or Die is put out by our friends at Shareable, the online magazine which is out to prove that sharing is fun, green, and good for the economy.This book shows that sharing isn’t just good for the economy -- it’s vital. With millions of people hurting right now, solutions based in sharing are the quickest tools available to rebuild from the ground up. Renting a room (or a couch) through Airbnb, for example, could help raise the money to cover rent, or to start a business. Through the community-supported agriculture model, local farmers can cater to low-income communities, like Harlem-based Corbin Hill Farm does.We call these "American Dream 2.0" solutions. They make it possible for people to start meeting their needs together, as communities, instead of through the traditional middleman of multi-national corporations.There are a dozen more inspiring examples in Share or Die, and thousands more at Shareable. You can get even share in the book release: enter the Share or Die Storytelling contest. Win up to $1,000 to use at the sharing service of your choice (Relay Rides to the beach, anyone?) or to donate to the nonprofit organization of your choice.
Hi there,Yesterday I went to the White House to see President Obama sign the bill that would keep the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4%.I took some pictures... they probably won't win any awards, but I tried:
This bill needed to be passed. It took months of hard work from everyone: campaigners, organizers, researchers, and policy wonks at organizations like Campus Progress, US PIRG, the US Students Association, CREDO, and Rebuild the Dream -- and the tens of thousands of folks who signed petitions, made calls, wrote letters, and shared their student debt stories.But we really, really, really aren't finished here. Keeping the interest rate at 3.4% is the very least that must be done. It's a small step. Just a few days after the bill passed, this happened -- it was a decision that was made months ago, and just recently went into effect:
Lawmakers ended a long-standing program that pays the interest on federally subsidized loans for six months after a student graduates from college. The change applies to new loans issued through July 2014...."It really makes the loans kind of unpredictable and hard to understand for students and families when these changes are happening through the budget process," said Megan McClean, managing director of policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, a trade group.
No more grace period. That is unacceptable.When I graduated in 2011, I relied on that interest-free grace period so I could get my life in check. I knew I had 6 months to start paying back my government loans (private student loans? Had to start paying those off immediately) and didn't have to worry about interest building up.I took the money I saved up by working throughout high school and college and moved to Washington, D.C. so I could immediately start working and saving more. I was used to living on my own and I'd been financially independent since starting college. I'd made sure to have a string of good internships to build up a strong resume. Throughout college, it was always in the back of my mind that I'd have to start paying off my loans not long after graduating.That interest-free six months saved me money so I could take a gamble by moving to D.C. and make some big life decisions. That's what you do after college, right?America can't afford to not fund education. When, as a country, you're gearing students up to go to college, you shouldn't just suddenly wipe your hands clean when they hit 18 and say, "Sorry, you're on your own now." And then shovel them off to the side and hit them with high-interest loans, or suddenly take away a 6-month grace period. What message is that sending to students? To young people?We have so far to go, but this campaign was hugely important. It opened up a conversation about student loan debt. It made it a political issue. As young people and students, we have so much support from people all across America. It's exciting. Now we need to keep the momentum going and organize!Let's go!
"I support President Obama's tax cut proposal to help middle income and and poor folks without continuing tax bailouts for the nation's wealthy. That said, with all of Washington embracing a false 'we're broke' mentality and pushing cuts that just make things worse for many American families on the edge, the President must go further and promise to protect Social Security and Medicare and veto any handouts for people making more than $250,000."
Today, President Obama signed a bill that will save students billions of dollars. But Congress didn't send him this bill out of the goodness of their hearts. Last December, Congress eliminated the grace period and lower interest rates for graduate students in budget negotiations -- the only difference now is that students stood up this time to save their benefits.Rebuild the Dream, along with the US Student Association, US PIRG, and Campus Progress, were on the forefront of this issue. Rebuild the Dream members did thousands of phone calls, letters, and more to prevent interest rates from doubling. More than that, they proved that when a group of dedicated people stand up -- they can win.Check out this infographic of all the work you did to make this happen and share or tweet it to tell your friends.
'A Personal Sense of Relief' -- Rebuild the Dream Community Members Share Their Reactions On 'Don't Double'
You Did It! You Told Congress, "Don't Double My Rate," and They Listened
How did one movement save students millions of dollars?
Storified by Rebuild the Dream · Mon, Jul 02 2012 19:39:40