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.
"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.
“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.
"..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."
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.
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.The challenges they face in finding a job and making payments for their student debt:
Amber T. from Massachusetts
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.And their obstacles and triumphs:
Stephanie O. from Florida
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.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.
Hope M. from Louisiana