Pages tagged "americandream"

Blood for student loans?! Umm, no thanks.

So... let's talk about Sallie Mae.They're the nation's largest student lender -- and they aren't as sweet and innocent as their name suggests. In fact, they're downright exploitative.Case in point: when we asked the Rebuild the Dream community to share stories about their student loan debt, Barbara H. from Tennessee said this about her son:"He's not been able to find a decent job, is barely making ends meet, so has not been able to start paying his loans. He's talked to Sallie Mae regarding this, but they continue to call him daily, including Saturday and Sunday. Then they started calling me daily, since I was listed as a secondary contact. When I complained to their representative that this was harassment, I was informed that they can call each contact number up to eight times per day."And Rose (not her real name) shared this:"I encouraged my grandson to pursue a college degree, because I thought as a Black male, his chances of landing a decent paying job would be much improved. Because I co-signed, I now use a great portion of my Social Security check to pay the loans. When I called Sallie Mae to work out a payment plan, the representative told me to tell my grandson to sell his plasma to pay the loan."That's right -- Sallie Mae told Rose that her grandson should sell his blood to keep up with his loan payments. Sallie Mae doesn't offer alternative payment plans for students. As it turns out, this is just the way they do business.[1] Click here to tell Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord: Shame on you! Stop exploiting student loan borrowers, and instead offer new repayment plans.Next week Sallie Mae is having their annual shareholder meeting in Delaware -- where we will personally deliver this petition to CEO Albert Lord.Right now, Sallie Mae gives students who are struggling with payments very few options, none of them good: defer their payments (and accrue interest), default on their loans (and wreck their credit), or put loans in forbearance (and pay huge fees and interest costs). College graduates are facing the worst job market in generations -- punishing them for a bad economy and soaring tuition isn't good business.What would good repayment options look like? Sallie Mae should modify loans to lower interest rates, provide income-based repayment plans, and stop charging forbearance fees and interest for those who need time to find jobs.Apparently, Sallie Mae doesn't understand good customer service.Let's gather thousands of signatures to tell Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord: We won't sell our blood to pay our loans. Work with student loan borrowers to come up with new repayment plans.Next week at Sallie Mae's shareholder meeting, we're going to call out Sallie Mae's predatory practices and take a stand for student loan borrowers, with allies like the Student Labor Action Project.Many people think of Sallie Mae as the old, trustworthy, government-sponsored lender. But in fact, CEO Albert Lord led the charge in 1997 to privatize the company, which then purchased the name "Sallie Mae" for $5 million to give the impression that it was an agent of the government. Sallie Mae has spent millions every year lobbying against students, just so they can make fatter profits [2][3]. It's time to put a stop to Sallie Mae's exploitative and abusive practices.Sources:[1] Forbearance: How Sallie Mae Makes Money By Jacking Up Fees And Billing Taxpayers[2] Center for Responsive Politics: Sallie Mae Annual Lobbying, 2011[3] NY Times: Lobbying Imperils Overhaul of Student Loans (Feb 2010)p.s. The New York Times is doing a big series on student debt called "Degrees of Debt," starting with this piece from Sunday's front page. It's a must read.

Why Sallie Mae Should Take Google's Advice: Don't Be Evil


Sallie Mae is the country's largest provider of private student loans -- and despite their innocuous name, they're guilty of some pretty awful practices.Sallie Mae has a dual role of a lender and collector. As Elizabeth Warren said, "Sallie Mae gets to play every hand at the poker table." And, “Student-loan debt collectors have power that would make a mobster envious."When customers call seeking assistance, Sallie Mae representatives say pretty terrible stuff -- a story from one of our members: "I encouraged my grandson to pursue a college degree, because I thought as a Black male, his chances of landing a decent paying job would be much improved. Since he graduated, he has been unable to find a job with a living wage. His paycheck barely covers the gas he needs to go to a low paying job, much less repay his student loans. Because I co-signed, I now use a great portion of my Social Security check to pay the loans. When I called Sallie Mae to work out a payment plan, the representative told me to tell my grandson to sell his plasma [i.e., his blood plasma] to pay the loan."As a debt collector, Sallie Mae is highly abusive, using the Freedom of Information Law to collect personal information about students from their schools, and contacting borrowers' employers, families, and neighbors, to the point of violating the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. One Rebuild the Dream member shared this story with us: "My son not been able to find a decent job, is barely making ends meet so has not been able to start paying his loans. He's talked to Sallie Mae regarding this but they continue to call him daily, including Saturday and Sunday. Then they started calling me daily since I was listed as a secondary contact. When I complained to their representative that this was harassment, I was informed that they can call each contact number up to eight times per day."Charges unnecessary and exploitative forbearance fees -- $50 per loan, per 3-month block -- essentially an "unemployment penalty"Successfully lobbied Congress to strip away basic consumer protections from student loans, such as bankruptcy protection on private student loans.Successfully lobbied Congress to obtain Draconian collections practices, including garnishment of wages, tax returns and federal benefits such as Social Security, without a court order to make it easier for them to harass.Angry yet? Click here to sign our petition telling Sallie Mae's CEO Albert Lord: Work with students -- not against them. We'll be delivering signatures next week at Sallie Mae's shareholder meeting in Delaware. Compiled with the help of our friend Rob Applebaum.

America's Top Housing Official Must Aid Struggling Homeowners

The Greenlining Institute just published this piece in the Huffington Post calling on Ed Demarco to act on principal reduction for the millions of homeowners whose homes are underwater.Preeti Vissa writes,
"DeMarco agreed to speak at an April 19 symposium organized by The Greenlining Institute that focused on how to restore and protect the dream of homeownership that seems to be slipping out of reach of so many Americans.At our meeting, DeMarco said he was "deeply concerned" about these underwater mortgages. He promised that FHFA would have something concrete to say about principal reduction by the end of April... But in an astonishing story published May 1, the Los Angeles Times reported [that the] FHFA was still working on its analysis of principal reduction and would have nothing to say until that analysis is done -- with no hint as to when that might be."
The underwater mortgage crisis is a key issue area for Rebuild the Dream. Check out America Underwater, the site we created with New Bottom Line, and the Tumblr that features the faces behind the underwater mortgages.

Sen. Rubio still paying off student loans, votes for doubling Stafford loan interest rate

Well, this is eye opening.Senator Marco Rubio released a short video statement after Tuesday's vote on the subsidized Stafford loan interest rate, saying in part:
“I think I am one of the only senators here who still has a student loan... As someone with a student loan and with a state with so many people with student loans, I support a hundred percent making sure that the interest rates on student loans do not go up.”
Sen. Rubio voted with 44 other Republicans to block debate on the proposal.What Rubio didn't say was that the Republican proposal would completely deplete a public health fund in order to pay for the bill.

Spreading Suppression: Restrictive Voting Laws Across the United States

Our friends at Campus Progress partnered with the Fair Elections Legal Network to produce a voter suppression map of the United States.Wow. Isn't that weird that I had to type that? Actually, isn't it even stranger that we have a need for an entire map of voter suppression laws in America?The map includes legislation that's been passed and legislation that is pending. It's divided into five categories that are considered suppression: Voter ID, proof of citizenship, early voting, voter registration, and other restrictions.

Lessons in Disloyalty: Eduardo Saverin and The Facebook IPO

Ilyse Hogue, a Rebuild the Dream advisory board member, writes some great stuff for The Nation. Most recently, Hogue writes of yet another 1%'er making an effort to avoid paying their fair share:
"..It was revealed last week that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his US citizenship... The move allows the thirty-year old Saverin to avoid paying a significant chunk of the taxes he will owe on the windfall coming his way with the impending Facebook IPO."
We believe that when millionaires do well in America, they should do right by America -- it is their patriotic duty to pay taxes. As Hogue hopes,
"Saverin's craven selfishness will help us rethink not only enforcement of our tax code, but also how we recognize and define loyalty and patriotism for all of us, immigrant and native-born, who call America home."

Republicans get in the way, again

Today at noon, 44 Republican Senators voted to allow the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans to double in July.Why? Because Republicans couldn't bring themselves to finally -- for once -- vote in favor of middle- and working-class Americans. Republicans have an issue with the "pay for," or how a bill gets financed. Here's what they have a problem with:
The Democrats’ bill would finance it by requiring law, accounting and other professional services firms with three or fewer shareholders to pay withholding taxes on annual income of more than $250,000. The firms, known as S corporations, currently can treat their income as profit and avoid the withholding tax.
And what did Republicans propose as a "pay-for"?Senate Republicans want to deplete the Prevention & Public Health Fund. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post writes about the Prevention Fund:
The Prevention Fund’s biggest investments have been in two areas: Increasing the size of the health care workforce and implementing community-based, health care interventions.
So there you have it, folks. On a bill that should be a no-brainer, Republicans bring to the table a plan to literally abolish a public health care fund. Abolish. Get rid of it. Deplete.Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had this to say:
“We all agree we’re not going to allow the interest rate to go up... It’s ridiculous that we’re having these kind of show votes on the floor when we could sit down and negotiate an outcome, and that’s what will happen. It ought to happen sooner rather than later.”
Senate Republicans didn't want a "show vote" so that they could quietly offer a pay-for that completely screws over America's middle class and not get flak for it.So now we're going to keep pushing. We know who the enemy is. We're going to keep the pressure on Republicans to come up with a serious proposal -- not depleting public health funds. Students across America should feel insulted that the Republicans came up with such a sorry pay-for... they must not be taking this vote seriously.

Senate Rejects Don't Double To Save Corporate Tax Loophole

Student loans are shackling millions. //Photo by ThisisBossi
There are not too many issues that are political no-brainers. Helping millions of student pay for college by preventing student loan interest rates from doubling was one of these issues.Today, Senate Republicans voted to defeat a bill to prevent student interest rates from rising. The impasse: whether Congress would pay for the bill by closing a tax loophole for corporate stock-holders or cutting preventative health care for poor Americans.With student debt surpassing $1 trillion dollars, it's clear where Congress's priorities are.“Republicans in the Senate just voted to expedite America’s new financial crisis and ensure that an entire generation of young Americans will graduate one step closer to poverty. Across this country, there are millions of students and graduates working two jobs while struggling to pay off student loans. For many of them the system is rigged. With their vote today, Republicans rejected their own party’s nominee as well as millions of young voters around the country that have been devastated by tuition rates that have tripled while receiving no relief," stated Rebuild the Dream's CEO Natalie Foster.Since February, Rebuild the Dream has been running a grassroots and media campaign in support of keeping the interest rate low on these loans. Rebuild the Dream members made approximately 4,000 phone calls to their Senators on Friday and Monday. We collected 1,100 stories of student debt from our members and developed some of the best ones into spokespeople in the key swing states for Senate votes. Previously, our members wrote 130,000 letters to their members of Congress and made 4,000 phone calls to the Senate in support of the legislation.

Rebuild the Dream On the Radio

You can now listen to Rebuild the Dream on your morning jog! Rebuild the Dream has launched a talk radio station on Stitcher.Stitcher is an online talk radio application with over 4 million users. Rebuild the Dream is participating in their new Election Center along with partners like Slate News, CBS, MSNBC and Bloomberg. Find us by searching for "Rebuild the Dream" on your Stitcher application; new pieces will come out each week.Our program will feature the latest updates from Rebuild the Dream's campaigns and partners. You can Get the latest updates first by subscribing to Rebuild the Dream on your Stitcher smartphone app.Catch up with the latest Stitcher podcasts right now by listening to pieces from Van Jones, Molly Katchpole and Rory O'Sullivan of the Young Invincibles.Episode 1: Welcome to Rebuild the DreamRebuild the Dream president and progressive leader Van Jones gives an introduction to Rebuild's new radio station.Episode 2: Meet MollyAn introduction to your plucky narrator, Molly KatchpoleEpisode 3: The Young InvinciblesMolly interviews Rory O'Sullivan from Young Invincibles, an advocacy group from DC whose focus is on issues affecting 18-34-year-olds.

Student Loan Stories. Coming To An Op-Ed Page Near You.

*Next week on May 8th the Senate will be voting on this issue. Call your Senator to let him or her know that they cannot allow the interest rate to double. Click here to get your Senator's numbers.Everyday, each congressional office brings out the editorial page from small towns across their district to see what issues matter to their voters. With a vote on student loan rates coming as early as next week, we want to make sure each Senator gets a letter from their home district.Five years ago, Congress slashed the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%. Almost 8 million students use subsidized Stafford loans to pay for school and make it to graduation. But interest on Stafford loans will double this July if Congress doesn’t pass a plan to keep interest rates down. Without the new plan, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized Stafford loans could pay almost $5,000 more through the repayment of their loan.For the last couple months, Rebuild the Dream joined USPIRG, USSA, and Campus Progress to deliver Valentine grams from all over the country to deliver to members of Congress, calling on them to keep Stafford loan interest from doubling, getting coverage in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia. A few weeks later, Rebuild the Dream members filled up the congressional phone lines with phone calls calling on Congress to extend the 3.4% rate.Rebuild the Dream has been campaigning on this issue since February. Our members wrote 130,000 letters to Congress, calling on them to keep Stafford loan interest rates from doubling. A few weeks later, Rebuild the Dream members filled up the congressional phone lines with phone calls calling on Congress to extend the 3.4% rate. We've been partnering and coordinating with U.S. PIRG, U.S. Student Assocation, Campus Progress, Credo Action and other groups in this campaign.In the stories they shared, people talked about their dreams:
My whole life, I was told that the only way to get a good job was to go to college. After attending a 4-year university and accumulating massive amounts of debt, I'm unable to find any job at all. Because of my student debt, I've had to put pretty much every plan for my future on hold... I've been so stifled by my financial worries that I feel like I'm not even allowed to dream about my future.

Amber T. from Massachusetts

The challenges they face in finding a job and making payments for their student debt:
I am a current student for a private career college. When I graduate, I will be in about $40,000+ worth of student loan debt. Once I graduate I do not know how I will make my loan payments and be able to keep a roof over my family's head when my degree in Medical Assisting will net me job starting out at about $15 an hour.

Stephanie O. from Florida

And their obstacles and triumphs:
I am a first-generation college student, from a working-class single parent home in south Louisiana. College was never really something that I saw in my future, mostly because it seemed so daunting for someone "like me;" everyone I knew in college had a stable family structure, they were financially more secure than my family, and they had parents who were in college before them...  I am a recipient of Pell grants and several scholarships, but that still isn't enough. Therefore, I must take out student loans every semester.I don't want to have to choose between paying massive loan payments or providing for my children's needs.

                                                      Hope M. from  Louisiana

Keep an eye out for more student loan stories coming to a small time paper near you. To help submit your own student loan story, send your student loan story to your local paper using our Letter to the Editor tool and get your story published before the Senate votes on student loan interest rates.