You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Cancel All Student Debt.
In 1994, about half of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with some debt — usually around $10,000. This year, more than two-thirds graduated in the hole and they averaged $35,000. Americans now owe more than $1.3 trillion total in student loan debt.
According to an article at Time.com’s typically understated “Money” vertical titled "Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think,” the increased burden is because government grants and support have failed to keep pace with increases in college costs. Despite the government getting a big increase in income tax revenue from college grads, it has fallen down on the job of continuing to make those degrees possible.
40 million people are now heavily burdened by student loan debt with virtually no way to discharge it. More and more are defaulting as they choose immediate needs over a chipping away at a repayment schedule set to last several decades. 10% of people with excessive debt put off life events such as buying a home or getting married and 20% say that their debt influenced employment plans. Many take jobs outside their field to stay afloat, work unhealthy hours, and take multiple jobs.
According to the new outlet “Attn,” a third of millennials report that they’d be willing to sell an organ to pay off their student debt. Over half say they’d willingly do a reality show, just under half say that they’d sell half their possessions if that would get them close to paying off loans, and over one-third would “take part in a questionable health study.”
Perhaps it has gotten absurd enough to get the attention of legislators who seem to leave out debt forgiveness even if they champion free college going forward. A new campaign spearheaded by The Nation with partners Daily Kos, Working Families, the American Federation of Teachers and others is calling for an end to the crisis.
At CancelAllStudentDebt.com, you can sign on to the demand that our legislators act now and then share it on social media, tagging your representatives and the White House. Addressed to President Obama as well as Congress, the letter simply states:
"Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families. I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.”
As the Nation Action page says, this is a problem for more than just students. When people live paycheck-to-paycheck for decades just to pay the interest on loans they can’t discharge, they are unable to buy items even those of us who are anti-capitalism begrudgingly say most of us need. They also can’t pursue “public good” type jobs because a teacher or social worker will never make enough to pay off $30,000 in loans; we’re losing talent at a dangerous pace.
The good news is that Strike Debt has put together an amazingly simple proposal to reallocate money and make public higher education free for all — for the paltry sum of $15 billion per year. That’s 0.39% of the federal budget; certainly an economic stimulus and an investment in our future is worth that much.
Let’s not wait for a new White House occupant to push this simple, important plan. The full House is up for election as always and 34 states have elections for Senate, so now is the time to let them know you demand action and will hold them accountable in November.
Help if you are or are about to be behind/defaulting: Student Loan Borrowers Assistance — "Find a Solution” via National Consumer Law Center
"Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think” via Time.com/Money
"Student Debt Is Worse Than You Think” via The New York Times
Graphic via: BorderlessNewsAndViews.com
Hear the segment in context:
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich