Student Debt Crisis on the State of the Union Address

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 29, 2014 CONTACT: Natalia Abrams 310-365-1069 – natalia@studentdebtcrisis.org Student Debt Crisis on the State of the Union Address “We are encouraged that the President spoke about the struggles of “…those who feel trapped by student loan debt.” and implore him to seek more in-depth solutions to the student debt crisis.” – Natalia Abrams Co-Founder “I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.” – President Obama StudentDebtCrisis.org agrees on the fundamental principles laid out in the president’s speech, we believe that so much more needs to be done to address the already existing $1.2 Trillion in outstanding student loan debt. Because of these debts, more than 40 million Americans are not buying houses or cars, starting businesses or families, or otherwise contributing to rebuilding the economy. As it is, 7 million Americans are in default on their student loans and, for them, there’s simply no relief in sight. Student Debt Crisis believes in the key alligning principle that higher education is a public good that should be affordable and accessible to all, without the burden of debt. We believe that higher education should be a right for all, as it is an investment in our collective...
Five Year Anniversary of “Forgive Student Loan Debt” and the SOTU

Five Year Anniversary of “Forgive Student Loan Debt” and the SOTU

Five years ago today, I wrote an essay called “Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy,” which I posted to a new group I had created on Facebook.  To my great surprise, the essay wasn’t just read by the ten or so friends I had expected to read it, but rather, by hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, cutting across all generational, geographical and political lines. The message was simple, and clearly resonated with a great number of people: rather than tax cuts or more corporate welfare, why not try a new, bottom-up approach to stimulating the economy by forgiving student loan debt?  Obviously, neither Congress nor the White House took this proposal seriously, and to be honest, it was written with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, however; what I had written had the unexpected consequence of sparking a true, grassroots movement that continues to this day. Within weeks of authoring the essay, dozens of publications and news outlets were reporting on what I had proposed, with BusinessWeek dubbing me as “a spokesman for a generation of people with student loan debt.”  It was a role I never sought or intended, but one I proudly took on, feeling a civic duty to stick with what I had started. Over time, I used my new political clout to try to effect change.  I worked with former Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI) in crafting H.R. 4170, “The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012.”  The petition I created in support of that legislation garnered nearly 1.2 million signatures and Rep. Clarke and I presented that petition to Congressional...
10 Fun Facts About the Student Debt Crisis

10 Fun Facts About the Student Debt Crisis

  1.) Bigger than Most Countries Currently, more than 40 million Americans hold student debt. The population with student loans is actually greater than the entire population of Canada, Poland, North Korea, Australia and more than 200 other countries. It’s also about four times greater than the population of Sweden. 2.) Giant Corporations can File for Bankruptcy, but Bankruptcy is Not an Option for Student Borrowers Let freedom ring! Last Friday, Freedom Industries, the chemical company responsible for the chemical leak which contaminated drinking water in West Virginia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company faces 25 lawsuits, but by filing for bankruptcy protection, Freedom Industries is able to halt most litigation. Unfortunately, if Americans with student loan debt find themselves owing money on their student loans, it is nearly impossible to file for bankruptcy. In fact, debts from gambling and other consumer debts can be erased, but not education debt. These debts can continue to grow when a borrower is unable to pay, and can even follow a borrower to the grave. Removing bankruptcy protection from student loans has only benefited the lenders. In a leaked memo, Sallie Mae officials have listed preserving the inability to discharge education debt in bankruptcy as their second most important goal. 3.) Seven Million Defaulted Out of the nearly 40 million borrowers, about 7 million have defaulted on these student debts. Translation: 7 million (or about 2 percent of the population of the United States) have had their credit trashed as a result of their student loans and can have 25% in penalties added onto their total student loan debts. To add insult to injury, about 60% of employers run credit checks on applicants before...