Why I Care About Student Loans, by Constance d’Angelis
Since Congress changed the bankruptcy laws to disallow discharge of Student
Loan Debt, the financial oppression engendered against student, parents,
relatives and other co-signers has been exponential. For-profit schools
have risen to outrageous numbers and costs; and so has post secondary
education. Whether a student receives a degree or not, there is no just
mechanism for reduction of debt or exorbitant interest rates and costs
except disability. Now, what does that say about our society?
As a single mom, with no child support I worked for minimum wage in a
doctor’s office. A woman who worked for an agency suggested that I apply
for a Pell Grant, so that I could go to college. I did. And, I got a grant.
Thank God! I applied at the University of Toledo. The counselor looked at
me over his desk while lowering his glasses to the bottom part of his nose
and said “You are going to have a difficult time in college.” I don’t have
words to express my fear, and intimidation; and as I write this I can feel
the tears on my face and the pain in my heart. I did it anyway! Even though
the lady in the bookstore made a nasty comment about how we were paying for
“no-good” kids to be in college and get their books “for free”. Well, guess
what? I graduated cum laude in Life Sciences, pre-medical curriculum. And,
now, I have a Juris Doctor degree. So there! Was it easy… Hell no!
Here is another true, actual and personal story: a friend of mine, who had
no education beyond high school went to a for-profit school for a
certification program, which she never finished. Her student loan debt was
$6,000. She didn’t have a job and she had been a singer in the past, so she
started practicing and began singing jazz at local clubs. She didn’t make
much money and when she turned 65 she was able to collect social security.
Because she hadn’t been able to make payments on her student loan debt, the
interest, fees and costs increased the debt to $32,000. They garnished her
social security benefits. It was only after she had a stroke at age 72 that
they stopped. As I mentioned, the only way to discharge the debt is
“disability”. Another interesting fact is that she is of African-American
decent, and below the poverty level in income.
Since the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has been allowed to
investigate and seek legal solutions to abuses related to consumer
financial transactions, there are numerous cases involving Student Loan
Debt violations and some recompense for borrowers.
And, you know what? Congress did it and they continue to do it. So it’s US…
the people who elect our representatives that are responsible. The
representatives and senators are lobbied by the industry representatives
and given all kinds of perks including money. They don’t like the CFPB or
the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Heck, they
don’t like protecting any of us, consumers. We make them millionaires.
Let’s all get together on this.