If you want student loan debt cancellation, now is the time to act
In March 18, the Biden administration’s Education Department announced it would cancel $1 billion dollars in federal student loans held by 72,000 borrowers who were fraud
by for-profit universities. These students received subprime education and worthless degrees, and then were burdened with debts often in the tens of thousands of dollars – all as predatory companies and their investors made millions.
The only reason this debt is now canceled is because the debtors have organized themselves. In 2015, students from now-defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc. launched the country’s first student debt strike, refusing to pay off their loans because they were ripped off by their school. First, they fought the Obama administration, then the Trump administration. As a direct result of these efforts, this latest victory means that the US government has been forced abolish close to $2 billion dollars in debt to date.
Now we have to continue what they started. We have to fight to make sure that everything1.7 a trillion student debt is canceled. We have a window to write history. As representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – NY) mentionned in March 12 after the adoption of the massive US bailout, “[I]If you are worried about student debt cancellation, now is the time for you. You need to mobilize, and now is the time to organize to create political pressure. ”
And we are. From March 29 until april 4, the debtors and our allies will be taken participate in the Debt Collective’s Week of Action to Cancel ALL Student Loan Debt. Events are planned for New York, Chicago, Albuquerque, Denver, Knoxville, Washington DC, Los Angeles and many more across the country. We believe that now is the time to get involved and engage in the physical and digital streets because we cannot sit back and wait for the elect to act alone. We must push them by organizing events, rallies, marches, telephone banks and other actions to create pressure and increase our fight.
While corporations and the rich are bailed out when they face crises, nothing is ever simply handed over to the working class. But we can win – if we organize together. Every progressive policy in this country has been fought for: it took the civil rights movement to bring this country closer to racial justice; women marched and acted for the right to vote, and it is only thanks to strikers and militant actions that we have 8-Working hours and weekends. Debt cancellation is no different. Debtors must unite so that our voices are heard and our demands are met.
President Biden campaigned on a pledge to forgive $ten,000 student debt for all, and increased relief for some borrowers. It’s a positive step, but his plan still leaves millions of people behind and fails to address the root of the crisis.
It’s time to write off all student loan debt and create a path to tuition-free college. Cancellation $ten,000 or even $50,000 (the amount advocated by Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren) is better than nothing, but if that’s all Biden does, he will leave tens of millions of Americans drowned in debt. Fortunately, Biden can write off all federal student loan debts right now using the authority he has under the Higher Education Act.
Higher education in the United States is fundamentally broken. Federal and state governments are sharp
education budgets and tuition fees ball. Between 2008 and 2018, tuition fees exploded by 37%, and university costs have increased by almost 25% – but states spent, on average, 20% less on higher education. Meanwhile, rental and electricity costs continue to rise while the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour remains stagnant.
The math is simple: there is a void, and it is filled with debt. In the past ten years, the amount of student loans increases
by more than 100%. Some cite the government’s existing loan repayment and cancellation programs as solutions to this overwhelming debt crisis. But, despite millions of candidates, only 32 people have qualified
for an income-based cancellation.
Back to the 72,000 defrauded students who will benefit from the disappearance of this $1 billion in debt. Sadly, countless more still suffer: 90% of borrowers who were scammed
by their schools say they have not received aid. The current federal government fixes are simply not working.
A diverse coalition of voters backed Biden in his presidential campaign because this country needs a profound transformation and because he has pledged to write off some student debt. I am a South Asian Muslim from a working class family and currently hold over $70,000 in student debt. The last thing I want to see is a return to “normal ”which endangers our communities and the tattered thread of democracy that we still have. It is time to tackle the real issues that created the crisis in which we now find ourselves. It will help workers from all walks of life.
The debt organization has taught me how widespread this problem is. People whisper it to me quietly, like they’re the only ones struggling, when student loan debt is actually impacting a lot of us: teachers, nurses, grocers, artists, developers. web, researchers, journalists, people who never graduated, people without a job. What about those who don’t have this debt? Many of them have done this before, so they know how hard they worked to pay and why no one else should have to – or they know someone who is in pain: his sister, his brother. , his child or his cousin.
Debt shouldn’t be our shameful secret. It can be our collective power and our shared struggle. When a problem affects 45 million people is not an individual error. We did what we were all told to do: go to school, try to get a degree, then try to find a good paying job. But the system is not designed to actually work for workers.
Student debt is a matter of racial justice. The biggest debt burden is held by Blacks and Maroons. A deep legacy of structural racism in this country has deprived these communities of the opportunity to build intergenerational wealth, so they have to take out more loans to go to school. Once in the workforce, Blacks and Maroons tend to earn less. First you start with nothing, then you are penalized for trying to improve your life. This is probably why 40% of black voters mentionned
they will not vote for a candidate who opposes the elimination of student debt.
Student debt is also an intergenerational problem, because now six million people aged 50 – 64and870 , 000 people over65 still hold student loan debt. For retirees, instead of relaxing after a life of hard work, they see their Social Security foreclosed on student debt repayments they defaulted on because they were too poor to pay.
Finally, student loan debt is a matter of economic justice. Rich people don’t have to borrow to go to college, but almost everyone does. Student loan debt has a significant impact on poorer states and regions, both rural and urban. For example, the people of Tennessee, where there will be two protests next week, to have over $ 29 billion dollars in debt.
It is no wonder that complete debt cancellation is supported
by a majority of voters, in all political parties. Debt cancellation is the essential stimulus that our country wants and needs. It would inject billions of dollars into our economy and create thousands of jobs. It’s so powerful that the poll shows 1 in 5 Republican voters have said they will consider voting Democrats if Biden cancels the debt.
We can be sure that banks and loan companies do not whisper to shame the number of lives they have destroyed. Instead, they proclaim that their profits matter the most, freeing up wacky reports
with questionable data on how canceling student debt won’t help the poor, and pressures to get billions more in grants for themselves and their bottom lines.
If they feel no remorse for manipulating and continuing to exploit45millions of us, why should we be ashamed of taking on debt to improve our lives and our communities? Instead, let’s organize together to write off our current debts and make sure future generations don’t have to suffer like this.
Next week, debtors and our allies will come together online and offline, in cities and Zoom rooms across the country. We will have marches and rallies, debtors’ assemblies sharing stories, banner drops and other actions.
Each action will be a little different. But each of them will be powerful, for every time people come together to make a difference, we are one step closer to righteousness and liberation.