Reviews | We Can Get Student Loan Debt Cancellation If We Organize Together
On March 18, the Biden administration’s Education Department announced it would write off $ 1 billion in federal student debt held by 72,000 borrowers who were fraud by for-profit universities. These students were given worthless subprime studies and degrees, and then were in debt often tens of thousands of dollars, all while predatory companies and their investors made millions.
We cannot stand idly by and wait for elected officials to act on their own.
The only reason this debt is now canceled is because the debtors have organized themselves. In 2015, students at a for-profit organization, now defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc., launched the country’s first student debt strike, refusing to repay their loans because they had been 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 nearly $ 2 billion in debt to date.
Now we have to continue what they started. We must fight to ensure that the entire $ 1.7 trillion student debt is canceled. We have a window to write history. As representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D ‑ NY) noted on 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. We must mobilize, and now is the time to organize to create political pressure. “
And we are. From March 29 to April 4, debtors and our allies will be socket participate in 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 take the physical and digital streets, because we cannot sit idly by and wait for elected officials to act on their own. We must push them by organizing events, rallies, marches, telephone banks and other actions to create pressure and develop our fight.
While corporations and the rich are bailed out when faced with crises, nothing is ever simply handed over to the working class. But we can win, if we organize ourselves together. Every progressive policy in this country has been championed: it took the civil rights movement to bring this country closer to racial justice; women marched and took action to win the right to vote; and it is only thanks to the strike and the militant action of the workers that we have an 8 hour working day 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 promise to write off $ 10,000 in student loan debt for everyone, as well as additional 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. Canceling $ 10,000 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’ll leave tens of millions of Americans behind. drown in debt. Fortunately, Biden can write off all federal student loan debts right now using his authority under the Higher Education Act.
Higher education in the United States is fundamentally broken. Federal and state governments are cutting education budgets and tuition fees are hot air balloon. Between 2008 and 2018, tuition fees exploded by 37% and university costs increased by almost 25%, but states spent, on average, 20% less on higher education. Meanwhile, rent and electricity costs continue to rise as the minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour stagnates.
Every progressive policy in this country has been fought.
The math is simple: there is a gap, and it is paid for by debt. Over the past 10 years, the amount of student loans increase more than 100%. Some say the government’s existing loan repayment and cancellation programs are solutions to this overwhelming debt crisis. But, despite millions of applicants, only 32 people have qualified for an income-based cancellation.
Let us come back to the 72,000 swindled students who will benefit from the elimination of this billion dollar debt. Sadly, countless more still suffer: 90% of borrowers who scammed by their schools say they were denied help. 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 have student debt of over $ 70,000. The last thing I want to see is a return to “normalcy” that 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, grocery workers, artists, web developers, 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: their sister, their brother. , their child or their 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, it is not an individual error. We did what we were 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 loan debt is a matter of racial justice. The biggest debt burden is held by blacks and browns. 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 browns tend to earn less. First you start with nothing, then you get penalized for trying to improve your life. This is probably why 40% of black voters noted they will not vote for a candidate who opposes the elimination of student debt.
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.
Student debt is also an intergenerational problem, because now six million people aged 50 to 64 and 870,000 people over 65 still have student debt. For retirees, instead of relaxing after a life of hard work, they see their Social Security seized on student debt payments that they didn’t pay back because they were too poor to pay.
Finally, student debt is a matter of economic justice. The rich don’t have to borrow to go to college, but almost everyone does. Student loan debt has a huge impact on poorer states and regions, both rural and urban. For example, the people of Tennessee, where there will be two protests next week, have over $ 29 billion in debt.
No wonder total debt cancellation is supported by a majority of voters, all political parties combined. Debt cancellation is the stimulus that our country badly needs and needs. It would inject billions of dollars into our economy and create thousands of jobs. It’s so powerful that the polls shows 1 in 5 Republican voters have said they would consider voting Democrats if Biden forgives his debt.
We can be sure that banks and credit companies do not whisper shame about the number of lives they have destroyed. Instead, they proclaim that their profits matter the most, freeing up grotesque reports with questionable data on how student loan debt cancellation won’t help the poor, and pushing for billions in additional grants for themselves and their bottom lines.
If they have no remorse for manipulating and continuing to exploit 45 million 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 ensure that 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, because every time people come together to make a difference, we take one more step towards justice and liberation.