This piece was originally published at PatriotNotPartisan.com
The Overall Crisis
If you are reading this, you probably have student debt, are impacted by student debt, or know someone whose life is worse off because of it. Americans are facing a student debt crisis that has reached epic proportions. Millions of people need a reprieve from the heavy burden of their debt. Instead, many leaders in Washington are backing plans that will make the crisis worse.
Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Republican members of Congress have all suggested policies that would significantly harm Americans with student debt. Their plans would kill vital options for borrowers who are struggling to make their monthly payments and would put loan forgiveness programs for firefighters, nurses, and teachers on the chopping block.
In response, a growing movement of students, parents, borrowers, and allies have joined Student Debt Crisis to stand up for our financial futures. Together, we are fighting to protect our repayment rights, to defend consumer protections, and to end this student debt crisis once and for all.
Today, there are 45 million people with student loans. Together, we have over $1.5 trillion in education loan debt. All over the country, people are delaying homeownership due to the exploding cost of college and years of student loan payments. Parents are shouldering extra debt to help their children follow their academic dreams, and those with student debt are saving less for retirement. It gets even worse, veterans, low-income students, and students-of-color are particularly vulnerable to repayment roadblocks, loan defaults, and financial abuse.
“Without student debt, I could afford to marry the love of my life, buy a house, and get my Ph.D. without feeling guilty. I would be able to take a job I love, instead of a job for money. I could help pay off my mom’s cancer bills. We would be able to finally enjoy life and not go to bed worried every night.”
– Sarah, Pennsylvania h/t WITHOUTSTUDENTDEBT.ORG
Student loan servicers, the companies that are supposed to help us understand our loans, routinely fail to provide accurate information. Our federal tax dollars are used to pay these companies hundreds of millions of dollars to provide “assistance” to borrowers. Their “assistance” at times is rushed, unclear, and inaccurate. On top of that, the nation’s largest servicing companies have a long track record of fraud and abuse.
Student loan juggernauts, like Navient and Sallie Mae, have faced many consumer protection lawsuits highlighting a variety of ways the federal contractors illegally take advantage of borrowers. All of these issues make it difficult for people to understand their repayment options. For some, it means the difference between making your monthly payment and financial ruin.
It is not only high student debt totals that have a negative impact on a borrower’s finances, many are unaware of free government programs that could have helped them avoid financial distress. Federal income-driven repayment plans, emergency options for borrowers in default, and even loan forgiveness programs for public service workers were created to make student loan repayment easier for struggling borrowers. However, bad acting student loan companies and a failing Department of Education have failed to give Americans the proper tools and information needed to make informed financial decisions.
These are the cold hard facts. The average student loan monthly payment is over $350 a month. Over 8 million people can’t afford these high payments and have defaulted on their loans. In fact, 1 million new borrowers defaulted last year alone. That means that many of our friends, family, and neighbors are having their wages garnished, their tax refunds withheld, and are possibly being harassed by debt-collectors because just because they are behind on their payments.
Americans are demanding that lawmakers take courageous steps to build new pathways toward financial freedom and create solutions to the student debt crisis. Instead, the president, along with Congress, wants to end helpful programs which would create new obstacles for people with student debt. Negative changes to current student loan rules have spurred millions of people impacted by the student debt crisis to fight back.
President Trump and Betsy DeVos have proposed an education budget that would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and replace other plans that currently help people manage their debt. On top of that, some members of Congress are backing a higher education overhaul that plans to do the same
The problem – Public Service Loan Forgiveness is under attack.
TAKE ACTION NOW – HELP PUBLIC SERVICE WORKERS!
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program promises Americans, who work in public service jobs, student loan relief after 120 on-time monthly student loan payments, while also working for over ten years in our communities.
That means that underpaid special education teachers and social workers can afford to go to college and still make the world a better place. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allows teachers to serve low-income students and civil rights attorneys to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. Without PSLF nurses and first-responders would have to worry about their student loan debt, instead of pursuing careers that keep us safe.
There are over 600,000 federal student loan borrowers that have submitted documents to qualify for the program and countless more who could qualify. Hard-working public servants contributed over a decade of work with the understanding that the federal government would provide student debt relief in return. Now, the current administration and members of Congress want to kill the program altogether. The threats of these changes have forced families to live in financial uncertainty.
“PSLF should be a priority for this country and is really the only way that many of us are able to pursue higher education and nonprofit work. PSLF was a beacon of light. To hear Trump is threatening that for me and the many others who are relying on it is devastating.”
– Amy, New York h/t STUDENTDEBTCRISIS.ORG
Join thousands of Student Debt Crisis supporters who have already taken action to protect public service workers and student loans borrowers who will be directly impacted if Trump and DeVos pass their devastating higher education budget.
#ProtectPSLF by Sharing Your Story or Send a Letter to Congress Today.