One organization doing a lot of great work around the student debt crisis is the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP). Recently they put together an eye-opening list about things you probably don’t know about Sallie Mae:
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received more than 1,500 complaints about Sallie Mae.xxiv Sallie Mae alone totaled nearly half of the 3,485 total complaints submitted about student loans to the agency since March 2012.
- Sallie Mae had 63 registered lobbyists in nine states between 2005 and 2011.xviii This influence can be quantified in states across the country that have continued to divest in public higher education, with only two states increasing funding for higher education since 2008.xix A lack of state funding has driven students to be more dependent than ever on private lenders, including Sallie Mae.
- Twenty percent of individuals with Sallie Mae loans defaulted from 2009 to 2012 after entering forbearance, and 11.4 percent defaulted after leaving forbearance and trying to make payments.viiiSallie Mae has a history of hiding its true default rate numbers, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) singled out the company for manipulating default rates for students at for-profit colleges.ix In 2007, company shareholders filed a class action lawsuit over this practice of pushing students into forbearance as a way to delay defaults on loans that were granted despite borrowers’ clear inability to pay them off.
Definitely check out the rest of the list at StudentLabor.org!