Pages tagged "student-debt"


Camille Rivera: The Student Debt Trap

This is a great article from our friend Camille Rivera, the executive director of UnitedNY AND a mother whose daughter would be affected by the July 1st student loan interest rate hike.Rivera writes:
"The statistics are overwhelming. College tuition and fees are almost six times higher than they were in 1985, while consumer prices have only doubled in that time.According to the College Board, between 2002 and 2012, in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased at an average rate of 5.6 percent per year beyond the rate of inflation.And CNN reported that tuition at the average public university increased eight percent in the last year and is expected to go higher....Students' only hope is that Congress gets its act together to keep student loan interest rates low, and that President Obama makes good on his promise to cut funding to colleges that don't rein in tuition costs."

You Probably Already Know This: Six Facts On Student Debt

Since you've been following the latest on student loan debt, you probably already know that it's out of control, and that on July 1st, it's about to get way worse if we don't do something. But do your friends know that?Probably not. And if they have student debt, they really need to. It's time to drop some knowledge.Our internal studies show that if you share this graphic with your friends on Facebook, they will instantly become 100% more knowledgeable about the student loan crisis. Don't you want that for your friends? Another reason for sharing and spreading knowledge:It's only three weeks until Congress decides if they actually care about the future of higher education in America (i.e. -- three weeks until the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans doubles). This means that the Senate needs to be pressured into actually caring, because they really haven't brought their game to the table lately. Republicans have been offering really terrible pay-fors that frankly, we should all be insulted by. More knowledge about student loan debt = more passion = higher stakes in Washington.Sources for graphic:[1] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "Too big to fail: Student debt hits a trillion."[2] Business Insider: "Student loan debt has shot up nearly 300% in the past decade."[3] Demos: "The Great Cost Shift: How higher education cuts undermine the middle class."[4] U.S. Department of Labor: Garnishment law.[5] NOLO: Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy[6] NPR: "Students to Congress: Don't let my interest rate double."


Student Debt Stories From Our Members.

Rebuild the Dream has over 600,000 members across the country. Below is a guest blog post from one of our members, Argun M. Ulgen, a public interest attorney in New York City with student debt. He pays $650 each month for his student loans. Read more stories and share your own at our "Real People, Real Student Debt" action center.I've come to accept that if you want to argue on behalf of our Constitution's ten canonized amendments, then your salary isn't going to be very high, and your pay scale will remain a very mild slope. This comes with the turf of being in a profession on the fringe of a predominantly corporate-capitalistic culture. However, what I still struggle to accept is that because I am on this fringe, because I chose a job that subscribes to my progressive beliefs, I am levied 20% of my disposable income - about $650 a month in student debt - with no immediate financial relief in sight.Every month, even after nearly ten years as a public servant, I am reminded that I cannot apply this $650 debt to contribute to charitable foundations or to grassroots organizations that may help some of my indigent clients stay out of court. I cannot invest this sizeable sum of cash into buying a new home or investing in companies that seek to effectuate my political beliefs (e.g., environmental research companies). Contribute that money to my mom's retirement fund? Forget it.Basically, there is no way that I can for the next several years contribute or invest this massive sum of money into anything I believe in. I'm 33 years old - in my lifetime, I have studied hard and earned high grades, and then chose a profession which I was taught was altruistic and important for the preservation of our Democracy. Still, $650 of my hard earned money must go to the bottomless stomach of a debt collector. This sum is a constant reminder that if I chose to participate in corporate culture instead, I may not have this albatross hanging around my neck.Those who have public interest based political or socio-economic objectives should not be punished by having to garnish a massive percentage of their salaries to a "belief debt" collector. Rather, these public servants should have a little more economic leverage in our political climate. Really, so should all students whose incomes just can't realistically handle both paying off massive debt and making positive contributions to our economy and polity. All people who work for low paying professions they believe in should speak out against "belief debt."One way to attain this goal is to lobby universities to spend less money on "state of the art" residence halls or fitness centers, and more on grants on loan forgiveness for those who choose to use their degrees for public interest jobs like antidiscrimination and free housing organizations, civil liberties, and environmental protection. Also, a by far more generous and immediate income-sensitive student loan forgiveness will not only put more money into our mainstream economy, but will ensure that a more diverse and representative set of our country's polity will have a stronger voice in our current political climate.Argun M. Ulgen is a public interest attorney in the greater NYC area. What do you think of Argun's ideas? Chime in at the comment section.

Sallie Mae shareholder meeting report back!

Hey everyone! Yesterday Jess and I traveled to Newark, Delaware to take part in the Sallie Mae shareholder meeting protest, held at Sallie Mae's headquarters. It was organized by the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), Jobs with Justice, the United States Student Association, and Rebuild the Dream. Here's a write-up of what happened!To kick things off, here's the image that Tyler and Kimberly created for folks to share online as a virtual solidarity action:If you think it's as awesome as we do, head to our Facebook page to share it with your friends.Rebuild the Dream was there to deliver our petition asking CEO Albert Lord to make Sallie Mae work with students, rather than against them, and provide more repayment options. Over 42,000 members signed it. Five of us would be going into the shareholder meeting to deliver the petition signatures -- here we are, pictured below (L-R), Curtis Hierro, Chris Hicks (SLAP), Annie Mombourquette, Dan Apfel (Responsible Endowments Coalition), and me![caption id="attachment_5286" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="From Twitter user @JessLivMo"][/caption]There were two components to the protest -- and both ended up working incredibly together to get the most out of the action. Folks would be protesting outside of the Sallie Mae headquarters where the shareholder meeting was taking place. The other component was that Curtis, Chris, Annie, Dan, and I would be making our way into the actual shareholder meeting to take control of the question and answer session and deliver the petition.Hundreds of folks turned out to hold a protest outside. Students, graduates, labor unions, community groups, and tons of others took part in a mock graduation to complete with ball and chain props to signify debt. Sallie Mae was ready for us -- they had set up orange cones and sent lots of police officers to greet us. The other component took place inside of Sallie Mae. In order to attend a shareholder meeting, you have to be a shareholder. Some of us had purchased shares, and some of us were proxies, meaning that we had permission to attend the meeting on behalf of an actual shareholder. Here are some pictures I (discreetly) took from inside the building... where we could HEAR the protest going on outside! Amazing power.And the best one -- evidence of what Sallie Mae was expecting: We made it into the meeting just as the question and answer session was starting. The session allows shareholders to ask the corporate board questions that relate to the meeting's proposals. We had each prepared a question intended to evoke responses -- but the main purpose was to make a statement. Unfortunately, they didn't allow cell phones in the meeting so we don't have footage from inside. Curtis told his story of being tens of thousands in debt. Annie shared that two months ago, she was arrested at a Sallie Mae protest held in DC. Chris and Dan demanded that Sallie Mae stop profiting off the backs of students, and I presented the petition with the help of everyone else. But they wouldn't allow us to deliver it to CEO Albert Lord himself -- even though he was sitting right up front. It was as if he was untouchable! So, his right-hand man offered to hand it to Lord himself and repeat back to us what our demands were!This action was one part of a larger struggle in student debt -- it isn't just focused on Sallie Mae. Yesterday, the Senate voted again on the interest rate... and it failed again. We have so far to go, but we have the power to organize and get our messages out. We have the power to make people listen. We're young, and we're ready. Edited To Add: Our Sallie Mae protest got media coverage from NewsWorks and the USA Today!


Put Sallie Mae On Notice Today!

This Thursday, busloads of people will head to Sallie Mae's annual shareholder meeting in Delaware to protest Sallie Mae's reprehensible business practices and overpaid CEO Albert Lord.Shareholder meetings are perfect opportunities for protest: they happen once a year, and the company's top executives are rubbing elbows with their shareholders. It's a lot of money in one spot -- money that is the direct result of high-interest loans and harassing phone calls to borrowers. Albert Lord, Sallie Mae's CEO, rakes in millions each year -- he has so much money that he built a private, 244-acre golf course for himself. Today is the day to put Albert Lord on notice.Since Rebuild the Dream members can't all attend the protest, we've created a virtual solidarity action -- and it's easy for you to do.

Use the buttons below to share this image on Facebook and Twitter and support the protesters at Sallie Mae's shareholder meeting.

Why put Sallie Mae on notice?

How much money does Mr. Lord make off students? The Shareholder Committee granted Mr. Lord a bonus of $2.5 million in 2011 -- $1.25 million of which was in cash.In addition to making millions off of private student loans, Albert Lord has boldly claimed that the student loan debt bubble doesn't actually exist.From 2002 to today, Sallie Mae has spent $25,470,000 lobbying the federal government. Sallie Mae has been one of the most aggressive lobbyists in Washington, D.C. on issues impacting students and student debt, allowing them to continue to use predatory lending practices.Read Molly Katchpole's report on some of Sallie Mae's draconian collecting practices -- including encouraging debtors to sell their blood to pay for student loans.


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.


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.

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.