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Student Debt: Why Race Matters
By Biola Jeje
At the City University of New York, we are seeing tuition hikes of three hundred dollars per year until 2016. Many would argue that despite this, CUNY is still more affordable than a lot of other public colleges in the United States and that as students we should count ourselves lucky that our tuition is so cheap. While there may be some truth to this, with the cost of education going up and financial aid being reduced for so many, affording CUNY is not as easy as it once was for an increasing number of students. Many students are being forced out of college due to the rising cost at an institution that was free up until 1975.
Why is this happening? Well there is a much larger trend in the United States where we are seeing colleges increase tuition, while at the same time we see a decrease in aid provided- particularly at the legislative level. Over the last few years students have lost access to many federal grants and other financial aid opportunities, often blamed on budget cuts. This has led to a ballooning of student debt over the past few years, surpassing national credit card debt at over one trillion dollars. This is the next big problem and, just like the housing crisis, it disproportionately affects people of color. A report from the Center for American Progress, progressive public policy research and advocacy organization, highlights this fact : “African American and Latino students are especially saddled with student debt, with 81 percent of African American students and 67 percent of Latino students who earned bachelor’s degrees leaving school with debt.”
Similarly with the housing crisis, where lenders targeted people of color for bad loans with terrible interest rates, the same could be said for lenders such as Sallie Mae, the nations largest corporation that handles student loans. It is no accident we’re seeing tuition hikes and an increase in student loans. Sallie Mae has a hand in orchestrating this, having spent over 25 million lobbying politicians since 2002. For years they previously functioned as a federal loan servicer, turning a profit whether students paid back their loans or not. Chris Hicks,Student Debt Campaign Organizer with Jobs with Justice notes that Sallie Mae has been charged within a class action lawsuit of racial discrimination, “Through its company-wide discriminatory policy Sallie Mae intentionally violated civil rights laws, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA),and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) in the origination or underwriting of private student loans with the goal of increasing its earnings at the expense of minorities” says Hicks, “Sallie Mae’s practices have resulted in minority applicants being charged disproportionately higher interest rates and fees than those charged to similarly situated non minority applicants.” On top of that, Sallie Mae processes tuition transactions at CUNY, SUNY, and many other universities- further profiting off of students at their expense.
So what to do about this? Well, one idea is to kick Sallie Mae off of our campuses by cutting the contracts they have with CUNY and SUNY. This is exactly what New York Students Rising, a statewide student organization dedicated to defending public higher education, is setting out to do in conjunction with Jobs with Justice. Isabelle Nastasia, Director of Development for New York Students Rising commented, “New York Students Rising is committed to empowering low-income students and student of color – in the past, we have mostly focused on budget cuts, tuition hikes and local campus issues of how to make our educational institutions more democratic…” says Nastasia, “When we came across the Sallie Mae campaign that Jobs with Justice is putting together it seemed like a no brainer. Very few organizations are framing student loans as predatory the way that mortgages were in 2008 but I’ve looked at the lawsuit reports being filed around the violation of the Equal Credit Opportunities Act, its over one hundred pages of testimony about students of color being targeted for subprime loans…its clear that this is a racial justice issue.”
To learn more about New York Students Rising and how you can get involved visit nystudentsrising.org or email email@example.com.
I need your help.
Sallie Mae is trying to sue my family and take our house away because we cannot afford my student loan payments. My mother was laid off from her job and is on unemployment, my dad is basically working a next to minimum wage job with commissions that are few and far between, and I am unable to work due to severe panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia.
My family is in debt to begin with. We are in the hole. We have negative money. We cannot possibly make these payments.
I really really don’t want Sallie Mae to take our house away, or to sue my family for money that we don’t even have. We need help. We need any kind of help that we can get.
I am panicking and I feel like I have no options left.
Please, reblog this post. This is my last resort. I need legal and financial help in any way possible. Signal boost this, because I really don’t want to be homeless next month.
Please help to get my story out to as many people on tumblr, twitter, facebook, and any other form of social media that you can. Reblog this with tags so that others can see it. And finally, if you feel that you can help me and my family in some way, please e-mail me.
I love you all.
"Passion doesn't pay the bills."
During my freshman year (of college) I remember attending a panel discussion where different college graduates talked about their experiences after ungrad and grad studies. Lasting at least an hour, there is only one question and one response from that night that sticks out in my mind. A student posed the question about going after your passion (along the lines of picking a major & career choice that either was or was along the lines of your passion) while still be able to make at least a decent wage. I can’t recall if the student used an adjective like “rich” or anything, but they made it clear they wanted more than chump change. The answer from one of the panel members was distinct to say the least. He looked directly at the student asking the question and the rest of the audience and said, in a even tone, “Sallie Mae doesn’t care about your passion.”
I can’t remember if the student made a reference to student loans in their question, but even if they did not, the response was pretty clear: Passion doesn’t pay the bills (at least not to Sallie Mae).
So should you follow your passion even if it’s not the most lucrative? For years I’ve had different people in my life (some important
and some just thought their opinion mattered when it didn’t) tell me how life is about finding what my passion is and making it my life’s work. “It’s not about the money, money will come and it won’t matter because you’re doing what you’re passionate about” they said. I think a lot of the people who said that complained about their lack of money, or were in a lucrative profession, though. Whenever you think of entertainers (musicians, athletes, actors, directors, artist, you get the point) you always hear or read how they “went after their dream” and now look-they’re a superstar, or more importantly to some, a rich superstar. For every success story there is at least a thousand others who had the same dream, the same goal and same drive to do the exact same thing, but for whatever reason it didn’t pan out. It seems like it’s hard to find that balance of doing what you love and earning as much as you’d like from it.
I might not be qualified to give an answer to whether or not passion pays the bills since I’m still a college student and I don’t really have any bills. Maybe if your passion is to pay your bills, then it all evens out.
I don't know what to do anymore.
As most of you might know, Sallie Mae is the worst student loan company out there. And unfortunately when I attended ITT Tech like, 6-7 years ago, I was bamboozled into taking loans from them.
Unfortunately, just this month, I got charged for all my loans two weeks ago even though I’m suppose to be on deferment for attending community college but until I hear back from them, I have a charge of $512.47 that I cannot pay.
It’s not a lot but I have rent coming up next week and will not have the money in time.
I honestly don’t know what to do.
So if you know anything about getting lenders of your back, send me a message?
Otherwise, if you feel like it, you can send me money to my PayPal? There’s a donate button on my blog’s sidebar or just send it to my PayPal (ReneeVare@gmail.com).
I honestly don’t expect to get anything, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask?
If anything I just want to get Sallie Mae off my back for good so if anyone has advice on dealing with this sort of thing, that’d be great.