Mike Rowe on Real Time with Bill Mahr (via timetoputonashow)
Mike Rowe on Real Time with Bill Mahr (via timetoputonashow)
Moving Beyond Debt for Diplomas
When I finish classes in August of 2012, I will have something like $78,000 in student debt. That’s about three times the national average, which is just over $25,000 in student debt upon graduation.
And I’m not even the least lucky. I have friends who will graduate with six digits in student debt.
Sometimes people try to argue that we are asking for special treatment when we talk about lessening the burden that these loans place on graduates, but this is a red herring. We are asking that we all take notice of the threat that these unfair debts place upon the millions of college graduates’ economic futures- and the economic future of our country.
Let’s look at my own example. As I pay off my loans over the next (hopefully) fifteen years, I’ll be sending my income straight to Sallie Mae, which will send a good deal of that money straight into the pockets of executives like CEO Albert Lord, who made $240 Million in three years, and into their lobbying efforts to make it more expensive to go to college. That’s money that I won’t be spending going to see local performances or donating to local causes that I care about (there is a middle school marching band going down my block as I write this and I want to be able to support them). I won’t be contributing to a local economy at the same time that I will have to reconsider things like becoming a public school teacher for fear that I may end up like those 1 in 5 of student loan borrowers who default on their loans.
And Congress is neglecting the Pell Grant, one of the most powerful tools for getting students into college classrooms by giving students up to $5,550 (Department of Education says that the average was $3,984 in 2011). Thirty years ago, the Pell Grant covered around 70% of average tuition, but now that number is only 34%.
Put another way, the fact that Congress cut $10 Billion from the Pell Grant between this year and last year is not a surprise. But it is a problem.
We need to make college affordable, and soon. It affects students’ ability to attend college, find a job that they do because they care, stay financially solvent, and do things like purchase a home. It affects seemingly small things that when multiplied across a generation of college graduates has an enormous impact on our economy. And we have an opportunity to make those changes. For starters, we can keep interest rates on loans from rising too high and lower those rates that are already too high. That small change with a big impact is exactly why I am going with the Student Labor Action Project on May 24 to the shareholder meeting of Sallie Mae, the largest student debt lender and trendsetter, to ask for a meeting with CEO Albert Lord. We want to talk, and we want to work.
By Isaiah Toney, SLAP Member at George Washington University
protip for students: at all costs fill out your FAFSA as early as possible, because federal aid is limited. Federal loans are also immensely better than private loans, as federal ones have a set interest rate, that even if it goes up soon to 6.2%, it’s still lower than what banks or Salle Mae can charge, which can be up to 20%+.
For months now, we have been asking Sallie Mae to meet with us to talk about the burden that student debt causes us and our communities. We’ve only heard silence in return.
Hundreds of students marched to their DC office last October, only to be met by security and police officers. Rather than meet with the students, Sallie Mae employees were escorted out the backdoor by police as they looked at the ground rather than the students drowning in debt.
Representatives of United States Student Association and Student Labor Action Project held a candlelight vigil in their offices on February 3rd. Once again, no one from Sallie Mae had anything to say to us as they refused to meet with us and security called the police. The closest we came to a response was someone who worked in the building scoffing at us, as he said, “Pay your bills.”
Every six minutes student debt increases a million dollars. In 2012 student debt will surpass one trillion dollars. Students are being robbed of their futures, but Albert Lord can stop this.
We need Albert Lord to know that we’re not taking this lightly. Since 2010, when student debt surpassed credit card debt as the largest form of debt in the country, we have been organizing this movement and we need you. Sallie Mae controls over $238 billion dollars in student debt and they need to take responsibility for their impact on the economy. We need to talk and we need to talk soon.
In 2010 something unthinkable happened – student debt surpassed credit card debt as the largest form of debt in this country, passing $800 billion dollars. In 2012 more history will be made as the amount of unpaid student debt climbs to $1 trillion dollars, with an additional $1 million dollars added to that number every 6 minutes.
The ripple effect that this has on our economy is crushing: students and recent graduates are forced into low-wage jobs in order to immediately start making payments back to banks and lenders; instead of stimulating the economy by spending millions of dollars, students and graduates are pinching pennies to just try to keep up with the interest on their loans; and the privatization of colleges and universities are expedited as the same loan agencies use the profit off of students to lobby for lower tax rates, forcing budget cuts to higher education in an economy where recent graduates struggle to find jobs.
Imagine students not working two part-time minimum wage jobs as they struggle to get through school, allowing them more time to participate in civic engagement. Imagine recent graduates not being pushed into a job market where they are forced to intentionally keep wages stagnant, allowing them the ability to work for non-profits or local businesses.
If we do not solve the student debt crisis the students of today will suffer, but the students of tomorrow may never have the opportunity to a college education. A generation of students will pay the hefty price of their student loans; but we must not forget that we will also pay the debt of an entire country ignoring the burden placed on those working to better their lives and communities by obtaining a college degree.
Bostonians- Fight for your rights and your future STARTING TONIGHT. Dewey Square, 6PM.
From the feature story: Unemployment, Inc.: Six reasons why America can’t create jobs.