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Student Debt

Student-Loan Debtors Weigh Options As Debt-Payment Moratorium Expires

“I’m thinking about the interest that’s going to be accruing, on top of each loan, and I’m like, okay, that’s going to total maybe $1,000 a month,” says Rachel Jerome of the upcoming federal student-loan payment ­resumption.  After Jerome earned her bachelor’s degree, she realized that her career goals were much different than when she was 18 years old. She wanted to switch gears and go back to school for a master’s in strategic communications, so she attended an online program at Syracuse University while working full-time at a nonprofit and living with her parents. COVID-19 induced a federal moratorium on student-loan payments and interest in March 2020.

Many Senior Citizens Expect To Die With College Loan Debts

Marjorie Sener was still in her 20s when she took out a loan for about $5,000 to get some college credits she hoped would eventually add up to a bachelor’s degree. That goal was thwarted when her partner became ill. “The burden of our living expenses fell on me,” said Sener, who lives in the Dallas suburbs. “I devoted all of my resources to keeping our heads above water.” But while Sener never got her degree, that student loan kept growing, fattened by compounding interest. Now, at 74, she owes more than $55,000, or 10 times what she originally borrowed, and has put off any hope of retiring. Sener still works, as a legal secretary, juggling her student loan debt with other expenses, including medical costs from recent cancer treatments.

‘Blue Dogs’ Get Money From Sallie Mae After Opposing Student Debt Relief

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of corporate House Democrats led by Rep. Jared Golden, received the maximum donation from student lending giant Sallie Mae after the Second District congressman voted earlier this year against Pres. Joe Biden’s plan to cancel $430 billion in federal student debt. The disclosure comes as student loan payments are set to resume after a three-year pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. Golden was one of two Democrats to vote in May with House Republicans for a resolution blocking the Biden administration’s plan for a one-time cancellation of up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who qualified.

Vox’s Student Loan ‘Expert’ Is Paid By Debt Collectors

Vox (8/7/23) published a piece arguing that “the White House should admit that student debt forgiveness isn’t happening,” and instead make sure that borrowers are prepared for loan repayments to begin again in October. But it failed to disclose that the author is on the student loan industry’s payroll. The Debt Collective, the nation’s first debtor’s union, noted on Twitter (8/7/23) that the author, Kevin Carey, works for a corporate-backed think tank funded in part by the student loan industry, and has worked to undermine student debt cancellation for over a decade. As a result, Carey’s argument that cancellation is futile, and that the White House’s efforts should be focused on helping students restart payments and avoid delinquency, reeks of feigned sympathy.

Next Steps In The Fight For Debt Relief

The student loan pause offered a safety raft to millions of Americans who are drowning in debt. The Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision to block student debt relief will devastate these borrowers, many of whom finally experienced what it was like to have money to set aside for the chance to purchase homes, start families and live without constantly worrying about debt. After having this taste of freedom, Americans are ready to organize to protect what the Biden administration promised them. Among the groups leading the charge — and continuing to push the Biden administration to exercise all options for bringing about the promised debt relief — is the Debt Collective.

How To Create A Debt Co-Op To Take Back Your Student Loans

The day we refinanced our first student loan, four debt cooperative members met for coffee and eggs at a greasy spoon at 8 a.m. to prepare the paperwork. Together, we all went to the bank, got the cashier’s check, printed the letter, and put it in the mail, and it was elating. So elating, in fact, that residents of downtown Seattle looked concerned as four grown adults let out shouts of joy outside a perfectly average post office after doing a seemingly simple task. But the task was anything but simple—and we had done it together. Like an untold number of ideas throughout human history, the nuts and bolts of what would become Salish Sea Cooperative Finance (SSCoFi)—a cooperative built to address the student debt crisis—were hammered out over nachos and beer.

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Student Debt Relief

On June 30, the US Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program, which had been held up in the courts for several months due to right-wing legal challenges. The six ultra-conservative justices which make up the majority of the court ruled against the program, while the three centrist justices voted to uphold it. The Court ruled that Biden had overstepped his authority when he announced a sweeping student debt relief program on August 24, 2022. The program would have zeroed out the debts of 20 million people. Biden issued an executive action in August to forgive the debts of student loan borrowers by up to USD 20,000.

How Students Jumpstarted A Bold New Campaign For Debt Abolition

The historic movement victory to forgive student debt won last summer is under relentless attack. At the beginning of June, the Senate passed a bill blocking President Biden’s debt cancellation plan, which he subsequently vetoed. However, the plan remains on hold as the Supreme Court considers dubious challenges to it. Another blow came with the signing of the bipartisan debt ceiling deal that will restart student loan payments at the end of August. In response to these ongoing threats, students are once again taking action — rallying outside the Supreme Court in February and organizing a sit-in at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office on Capitol Hill in May.

New Documents Undermine Supreme Court Student Debt Case

Newly unearthed documents show a major student loan servicer is projecting revenue increases even under President Joe Biden’s debt cancellation plan — directly undermining the argument Republican officials are making in their lawsuit to block the measure. But conservative justices on the Supreme Court appear prepared to strike down the debt relief program anyways, disregarding the evidence and their own legal theories to fulfill the wishes of the dark money network that helped build their Supreme Court supermajority. At issue is the concept of “standing” — a legal term for who is allowed to bring a case to the judiciary. For years, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has consistently shut down cases they don’t like by insisting that plaintiffs are unharmed and therefore do not have standing to be in court.

Student Loan Forgiveness Program Appears Headed For Defeat

A right-wing majority of the Supreme Court is on the verge of denying student debt relief to more than 40 million borrowers. On February 28, the high court heard oral arguments in a pair of cases challenging President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. Instituted to ameliorate the effects of the COVID pandemic, the program could provide up to $20,000 of debt relief to people with federally held loans. The first case heard by the court was Biden v. Nebraska, brought by Republican state attorneys general from Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina against Biden, his Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and the Department of Education.

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program In Jeopardy

On Friday, February 3, 128 Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives, and most Senate Republicans, filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court, opposing President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. Biden’s program, announced August 24 of last year, would have forgiven up to USD$20,000 in federal student loans for the most low-income borrowers, and USD$0,000 for those earning less than USD$125,000 per year. This would have affected about 43 million people and forgiven around USD$1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Many believed that this was only a band-aid on a massive issue, as the average US household with student debt owes USD$58,238. However, even this band-aid measure was never implemented. The plan has been repeatedly halted by conservative-led legal challenges, and has now found its way to the Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide the program’s fate only as late as June 2023.

Why Aren’t Workers At Unions Eligible For Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

In 2007, the Bush-era Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, also known as 20 USC 1087e (m)(1). The premise of the program was simple: student loan borrowers who made their payments would have any remaining educational debts forgiven after 10 years of public service. Through PSLF, lawmakers and advocates intended to make public service a viable option for more borrowers, including graduates carrying large student loan balances. Unfortunately, this intention has not been realized for most borrowers or PSLF participants. Rife with exclusions and plagued by a history of poor communication and logistical failures, PSLF has historically approved very few borrowers for loan forgiveness even though many have applied.

Organizers Have Fought For Debt Cancellation For Over A Decade

Following over a decade of activism against the United States’ massive student debt crisis, President Biden announced a plan on Wednesday to cancel a significant amount of student loan debt for tens of millions of low and middle-income Americans. Many organizers, whose work made the announcement possible, have viewed the news as a major victory for their movement. However, they also see it as just a small first step in a country where many borrowers — especially Black and Brown borrowers — are saddled with far deeper debts, and the root causes of educational inequity remain largely unaddressed. “This $10,000 further marginalizes the already most-marginalized,” said Dr. Richelle Brooks, a member of the Debt Collective and founder of ReTHINK It, who currently owes $240,000 in student loan debt.

If Biden Can Cancel Some Student Debt, He Can Cancel All Student Debt In The US

“I cosigned for 70K in loans to put my disabled grandchild through a private college that would meet his specific needs,” said a 70-year-old debtor I met during the Debt Collective’s virtual older debtors’ assembly in mid-August. “I don’t think I’ll be able to pay off these loans in my lifetime,” another debtor told me. As I listened to these stories in a Zoom breakout room, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the conclusion that debt controls the lives of millions of people in the U.S., especially our most vulnerable. The Debt Collective, the nation’s first debtors’ union, is known for opening and facilitating powerful forums for conversation that enable folks to release the burden of shame and talk about how debt has impacted their lives. I’ve been organizing with Debt Collective for a year and I have come away with the same conclusion each time I leave an assembly: Americans desperately need full cancellation, and they need it now.

Cancel All The Student Debt Now

President Biden announced today that his administration was taking two actions with regards to the student debt crisis affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. The administration pushed back the deadline for the resumption of student loan payments until the end of the year, and up to $10,000 of student debt will be forgiven for those making less than $125,000 a year (or $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients). The cancellation of student debt – which now totals over $1.7 trillion – has been a longstanding demand of the mass movements of the past decade. The popularity of this demand and the persistence with which it has been raised has made it impossible for the politicians to completely ignore. Clearly, Biden made the calculation that he could not go to the 48 million people who have student loan debt totally empty-handed.
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