Monthly Archives: October 2015

Why all Student Debtors Should Default Their Loans

Supporters believe that a massive movement of defaulting student loans is necessary to change the higher education system because we have already seen progress as a result of smaller scale movements.

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Image from Google

The predicaments in which some debtors find themselves in have nothing to do with their “lack” of moral duty, but they simply cannot afford to pay off their loans no matter what they do. Student loan debts are the hardest type of loans to get rid off because you are not allowed to file for bankruptcy. They are also very difficult to pay off if you are in a modest economic state. It is exactly for this reason that many debtors a year make the decision to individually default on their student loans. Without any other options what is a person to do?

Recently it was found that students who were enrolled in colleges under the control of Corinthian Colleges Incorporation were mislead in their academic guidances. This then lead to students taking out loans for careers that would not turn out to be prosperous even though they had been told otherwise.

This resulted in a large movement by The Debt Collective “a new membership organization that leverages collective power by offering debtors a shared platform for organization, advocacy, and direct action. Alone, our debts are a burden; together, they make us powerful.”

As originally planned the group wanted to find one million student with high debt to come together and simultaneously default on their student loans. They believed a move like this would pressure those in charge to make a movement to better our higher education system.

In the end they were not able to find one million willing to participate even though one million debtors ended up defaulting that year individually.

In light of the Corinthians students case, they instead gathered a moderately sized group of students who then refused to pay off their loans. They started off with, “Corinthian because they met all the requirements for a group of debtors who could see it was in their interest to act collectively.”

With the pressure this then presented to those in charge, the Corinthian students were relieved of their debt, an act “that wouldn’t have happened without the pressure from this debt strike.”

As well as being forgiven of their debt, this movement also made it so that The Department of Education develop a new program that lets students “cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of discretionary income” and “Any debt remaining will be forgiven after 20 years”.

If a small group of students were able to make a change in the education system, an even bigger group would be able to make a massive political movement. This could then result in an overhaul of the whole economic structure of our higher education system. Much like statistics, when you want to find the probability of an event occurring in a large amount, you take a small sample out of the whole population.

This small movement, in its effectiveness, is proof of what could happen if students as a whole gathered together and defaulted all at once. The system would have no choice but to fall into the pressure and make a change.

Image from Google

Image from Google

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Why Are We Blaming College Students for Loan Debts?

The posts before this have had to do with what some presidential candidates are proposing for our student loan crisis. For this post specifically it would be interesting to separate what candidates are saying and instead look at what people are saying about our problem. Specifically one comment that I’ve seen consistently, “I have no sympathy for someone who attends an expensive private school and then complains of the cost.”

In the New York Times there is an article titled,  “We’re Being Punished by Crippling Student Debt”, posted under the “What College Students Should Care About In This Presidential Election” blog. It is written by a third year student at the Syracuse University College of Law. It consists of her explaining how her debt situation is going to affect her life,  which is “ guaranteed to be financially unstable, thanks to the burden of staggering student debt.” A reality that is not only hers but of a vast majority.

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University of Southern California: Image from Google

When the topic of student loans arise I’ve noticed a tendency to blame students for choosing an expensive school when they could have gone to a less expensive one. But I think we should take into consideration that sometimes expensive colleges end up having a better education system, or a better program for what you need specifically. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the name but what the school can provide to nurture the student. How could we then blame a student for wanting to go to a place where they feel they will be offered a great chance to be properly prepared to go into their field? Why would someone have to deprive themselves of a good education by choosing to go to a school that is cheaper that may not be as good of school?

This then brings us to the realization that institutions especially the most expensive ones need to start “reigning in spending”, as mentioned by a commenter on the Times. A lot of what is making colleges expensive is their all star group of college professors and the college putting their own pricings on things you don’t need but help “keep the school running”. Those were the words of my counselor.  Institutions need to start making college more affordable instead of rising prices every year.

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Image From Google

The  place where we learn should be facilitating our academic endeavors not making it hard to achieve them.

The way people should be choosing their college of choice is not by whether they’d be able to afford it but by what school would be able to provide them with the best education in order for them to have a successful career. If expensive colleges happen to provide a good education then why should that stop a student?  And if we reach deeper into the root of the problem then why not stop making colleges so expensive?

Not Enough Coverge on Bernie Sanders

In the last post we compared Bernie Sanders ideas on education with that of Hillary Clinton’s “New College Compact”. For this post I had planned on discussing what those affected by this topic are saying about these two candidates. But, while trying to find comments on these candidates I found that the media is not covering Bernie Sanders nearly as much as Hillary.

We all go to Google when trying to find information on topics and for the most part we rely on credible sources to make up our judgment. When typing in Hillary Clinton’s name it is safe to say that there is an abundant amount of articles that pop up from reliable sources. Though when Bernie Sanders is searched it is nothing compared to that of Hillary’s.

It also appears that I am not the only one that has come to that realization.

Margaret Sullivan, editor of the NY Times, has recently addressed the issue concerning the lack of publication in the Times specifically. “I’ve heard a great deal from readers, unhappy about both quantity and tone of The Times’s stories. And Sanders articles have generated thousands of reader comments along the same lines.” The lack of coverage Sanders is receiving has commenters saying things like, “It seems the editors have decided the race already and have written him off.”

The frustration amongst those in favor of Sanders doesn’t end there, but the topic of tone when he is written of is also an issue. Supporters have been quick to notice that when there is coverage the publisher tends to sound dismissive never concentrating on important issues, instead choosing to cover and comment on things as superfluous as Sanders hair.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2015.  Sanders will announce his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday, presenting a liberal challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a "democratic socialist," will follow a statement with a major campaign kickoff in his home state in several weeks. Two people familiar with his announcement spoke to The Associated Press under condition of anonymity to describe internal planning. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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It is interesting enough to see that at the end of her article, Sullivan claims that there has been enough coverage according to numbers, but also admits that it has been very biased and not informative, “ The Times has not ignored Mr. Sanders’s campaign, but it hasn’t always taken it very seriously…regrettably dismissive, even mocking at times…focused on the candidate’s age, appearance and style, rather than what he has to say.”

It is very eye opening to see someone who is on the side that is currently being scrutinized own up to the complaints being made. It makes the claims against the Times all the more valid and not so biased.

After publishing her article Sullivan took a step further and gathered up some comments from Times reviewers and sent them to the senior editor for politics, Carolyn Ryan. Sullivan herself believes these comments have truth behind them but the response she received from the editor differed from hers. “We​ ​respect the passion of Sanders ​supporters. But I ​think ​they may be overlooking much of the coverage that we have provided​.” Ryan then goes on to list many of the articles that they have written of Sanders and even goes as far as mentioning that the Times hired reporters to travel alongside Sanders in order to keep up with his campaign.

These statements have brought even more outrage from commenters. It seemed that for every example Ryan gave commenters found other instances in which they recalled lack of publicity in the Sanders campaign. “You have reporters assigned to Bernie’s campaign but no one covered the HUGE, record breaking rally in Boston last night?” “It seems that Ms. Ryan is in denial and can only fall back on absurd conspiracy theories to explain why so many of us have been upset at this ludicrously unbalanced, dismissive coverage and the complete absence of the kind of journalistic neutrality that would take all candidates seriously rather than prejudging outcomes”

Despite Ryans response commenters are not pleased. In fact she has only brought out more complaints from supporters and even unbiased viewers.

Despite the Times coming out with this article, many still have problems with the content written by Sullivan such as, “Still waiting for genuine coverage of Bernie Sanders. Very disappointed in NYT.” This comment was written on October 8th, 2015, yet the article was published in early September bringing to light that despite the public confession, the Times has still not changed the way they cover Sanders, “ You don’t have to be a Sanders supporter to see how unfair the coverage has been.” An act so obvious that even those who aren’t supporters are aware of.

The lack of coverage from major companies and news sources impact how much people are informed. In effect it also impacts who votes and who we as college students or student debt victims vote for. No doubt there are a lot of college students who are in support of Hillary Clinton, but, why? Is it because we are not being properly informed on other candidates plans and Hillary Clinton is without a doubt a very famous name? In order to come to sound conclusions, we need to be properly informed.

An act that I believe is not being done.

Bernie Sanders Studen Loan Plan Better Than Hillary Clintons?

In the last post I concentrated mostly on Hillary Clinton’s ideas on our student loan crisis. A lot of attention has been given to Hillary Clinton during this presidential debate. It may have to do with the fact that she is a Clinton, a name that resounds so loudly within America. For whatever reasons it may be, not a lot has been said about Bernie Sanders ideas despite the fact that he is advocating for completely free tuition unlike Hillary Clinton.

Image from Google

Image from Google

Although he is a very prominent figure in the presidential debate, his ideas towards our education have not been as highlighted like Hillarys. Which is interesting seeing as with Hillary’s plan you are still expected to pay a certain amount for your education and maybe even take out a loan if necessary. With the propositions presented by Sanders you wouldn’t have to, he proposes that tuition be completely free with the Government paying 67 percent and the state providing the rest of the 33 percent. “…public higher education was virtually free in many parts of this country…It was understood that we all benefited from living in a society where every young person…could obtain a higher education…” His idea is influenced off of the idea of what America used to stand for. “It is important for us to return to that view of education as integral to America’s commonwealth, and to our democracy.” Bernie Sanders, unlike Hillary, approaches higher education affordability as a problem that is not only personal but also societal.

Heather Gautney, an associate professor at Fordham University and a senior researcher for the Sanders campaign recently wrote a piece comparing Sanders layout with that of Hillary’s “New College Compact” and she is quick to point out many flaws. One of them being that students would still be expected to work in order to pay for their tuition if necessary. But I think that many of us know that sometimes it is incredibly hard and at times impossible to juggle a job on top of attending school. With ten classes this semester, I know I completely agree with this statement.

It is very easy for some to say that with hard work we can achieve going to school and and also having a job, but they fail to realize that for some this is not possible, mentally, physically, and emotionally. “That can be difficult for students carrying a heavy class load, especially if the work isn’t related to their studies.” So much of stress in college comes from the workload that we are pressed with. Imagine having to deal with that on top of having to also work? Some truly can’t handle it.

Another thing she is quick to point out is that family contributions are expected to help pay for your kids tuition in the “New College Compact”. Hillary does specify saying that families would only contribute what they can, but some families as Gautney points out cannot afford to have another payment on top of what they already have to deal with, “Many middle-class families today are already struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck and often borrowing just to meet their routine expenses.” All this would achieve is worsening the economic life of the family which truly is a social problem as well, because how can a family progress and contribute to society if loans and payments they can’t afford are inhibiting them from rising above. It is very similar to the caste system in India during the classical era. Once you were born into a class you weren’t able to rise above it to become something more, but you were able to become lower in the system.

Image from Google

Image from Google

But like a commenter of the article mentions it is difficult to stand behind what Sanders is saying simply because what is the probability that his bill will pass if he wins Presidency. “The GOP will retain the House for another 8-10 years. There’s no way it’ll work.” Currently Republicans run the House of Legislature, trying to run a plan that consists of providing free higher education by taxing the rich is not something that is going to be welcomed by the party.

Hillary’s plan also runs the risk of not being passed by the house, but as a commenter mentioned because her plan is more “moderate” it has higher likelihood of working. It uses ideas from both sides of the spectrum. She is making college more affordable but she isn’t just handing it to us completely free, we still have to work for it.

Another point made that garnered my attention was when a commenter gave the example that he attended the same college his daughter recently graduated from and the difference each paid despite it being the “Same school, same buildings, same laboratories, and some of the same profs.” the cost was significantly different. He mentioned that he would like to see a proposition “that requires schools to reign-in spending” instead of just relying on having free education.

While both plans have their good qualities about them, they also have qualities that are a bit skeptical. Despite the problem the idea Sanders proposition holds I am still in agreement that college should be free.