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New vlogbrothers video! I discuss the history of Greece’s deficit and debt problems, the challenges of adopting the Euro and living with the Eurozone’s monetary policy, and the possibility of the so-called Grexit–a Greek exit from the Euro. 

Because élites have a thumb on the scale of public discourse, discussions of student debt too often assume that it’s acquired at private liberal-arts institutions. In fact, the main drivers of student debt—which has recently risen to the attention-getting sum of a trillion dollars—are the rapid growth of for-profit, mostly online education institutions, where ninety per cent of students take on debt, completion rates are low, and default rates are high.
—  Nicolas Lemann, “The Real Student-Debt Crisis
politico.com
Sanders backs Greek voters
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed support for Greeks who voted against creditors’ calls for austerity measures in exchange for new loans by widely rejecting such demands on Sunday.“I applaud the people of Greece for saying ‘no’ to more austerity for the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly,”...
By Hanna Trudo
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Love Gov: An Education in Debt

This is a clever short series about a relationship between a woman and her overbearing boyfriend, called Gov, who slowly starts to control and ruin her business and eventually her life. You may notice a metaphor or two.

Part 2: Protection from Jobs

Part 3: A Remedy for Healthcare Choices

Part 4: House Poor

Part 5: Keeping a Close Eye on Privacy

I wish tumblr actually cared about Greece right now. Everyone’s happy to reblog posts of pictures of Santorini and the Greek islands and to read books based of Greek mythology and quote Greek philosophers and live in countries built on the ideas and inventions that GREEKS CREATED but I am yet to see one post about the Greek crisis and it just seems like no one cares what’s going on. People do not have any money, all banks are closed and accounts are frozen. ATMs are only giving 60 euro a day to people and they are soon going to run out of money. Unemployment is at 28% if I’m correct. 272.7% increase in depression. People are committing suicide because of the living standards (around a 35% increase) . There has been electricity and hot water cuts in parts of Greece. Pensioners can’t get their pensions. The Greek PEOPLE are being blamed because apparently they are ‘too lazy’ but no ones blaming anyone else when it’s not the people of Greece’s fault. they’re being bullied and pressured by more powerful countries, the eu and imf to vote yes on the referendum meaning higher taxes and spending cuts putting the people of greece in even more poverty. not to mention that Greece already has a corrupt government to deal with. And no one seems to care that whatever the outcome is with Greece effects other countries such as Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy who are also in a very fragile state. Mind you the EU doesn’t seem to care if Greece goes bankrupt because they won’t give Greece debt relief, they are ruining a country and the lives of people! I have family in Greece right now and my yiayia (grandmother) has informed us that she is currently living off her last 20 euros because she’s on the island Lesvos in a village and can’t access any of her money in her bank accounts. It’s disgusting that people are making jokes of this situation when the people of Greece are suffering as much as they are, and I don’t think they realize what an effect Greece collapsing will have on them and the rest of the world! All I’m asking is for the people of tumblr to open their eyes to a major issue in the world right now because even if it’s not effecting you directly, it’s effecting millions of people. Greece needs help and even if it can get something as little as more recognition and acknowledgment of how bad the problem is, maybe just maybe things can get better. Just keep in mind that this could potentially ruin a country filled with such a beautiful culture, proud outgoing spirited people and an incredibly rich history

So your SCHOOL LOANS are in DEFAULT and you are too scared to do anything about it

ON FEDERAL LOANS: 

Things have changed.

When you call your loan servicer, they  won’t treat you like shit anymore. They won’t threaten you or harass you or insist you pay half your paycheck to get out of default. Here is what I’ve experienced while dealing with defaulted government loans. 

1.  Find out who owns all your debts right now. It may be early enough that your most recent loan servicer could still be the owner. If it’s been over a few months, or years, it will be a collections agency or several agencies. Check your snail mail. Their policies usually dictate that they send paper mail. If your wages are being garnished already, you need to stop by payroll and ask for your garnishment paperwork.” Once you find the collections agency, ask for “proof of debt.” By law, they must provide you proof that they own your debts so they can’t scam you.

2. Once you establish that this agency owns your debt, tell them that you can’t afford much but would like to “rehabilitate your loans.” This means you will make a payment for 9 consecutive months. The agency, by law, must use a government formula to figure out how much you pay each month. If you make around 40K, you will be asked to pay somewhere around $100-150/month. If you are unemployed, you can rehab for as little as $5 a month. Ask them to autodebit so you don’t accidentally miss a payment. If you miss one, your 9 months starts over. 

3. Once you finish your 9 months, call the collections agency to make sure they won’t autodebit anymore. They will hand your debt back over to the loan servicer you worked with before they got the loan. Most likely, you have Great Lakes, Nelnet, Navient (formerly known as Sallie Mae), or one of these loan servicers. Then go to this studentloans.gov website and make an FSA ID and PW. 

4. Begin a consolidation through the student loans website. The consolidation form will ask you to write in every loan. It might be on the website already, but check this NSLDS.gov site to be sure. This website has an up-to-date account of all your outstanding loans. Consolidating is a tedious and boring process. Make sure you have a few hours free to do this. 

5. When you consolidate, the form requires you to fill out a payment plan. You want an IBR plan, or Income Based Repayment Plan. This plan will allow you to make minimal payments according to your income for 20-25 years. Then, the government will forgive your loan. Consider it 25-year mortgage for your college education. Also, the IBR will re-evaluate your income every year in order to adjust the monthly payment. If you lose your job, your monthly payment will reduce dramatically, and if you find a better paying job, you may have to pay a bit more. 

6. Also while consolidating, you must choose which loan servicers you’d like to work with. I work with Nelnet. Nelnet was difficult to work with for years, like not allowing you to email in documents–only mail or fax. You can email scanned documents to them now. You can download free scanning apps to use with your smartphone camera. Remember to keep a log of every time you call, whom you talked to, and what you talked about. This is an important lesson I learned while calling companies for my immigrant parents. Anyway, because of government regulation, they are actually nice to you and available 24/7.They can’t pull their bullshit anymore. I’m sure it’s the same with all the other loan servicers. As I said before, I work with Nelnet, but it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. 

7. When you finish with consolidation, wait a few days and call your loan servicer. Ask them if they’ve received the request for consolidation. Then, check in with them every week for the next six weeks to hear the status of the consolidation. They are not good about emailing you updates, i.e. never. I did my consolidation wrong the first time, and they just rejected it and never notified me. I found out when I made my weekly Monday night call. Had to fill out the damn form all over again. It’s finally been accepted. 

8. They will then set you up with an IBR plan. Your payments will most likely be the same as what you payed the collection agency because they’re using the same government calculator. Autodebit those payments. 

This is all I know so far. This is far better than defaulting and having the government garnish your wages. And once you begin the IBR plan, there is an end in sight!

ON PRIVATE LOANS: 

I don’t know much about these, but I know private is much harder to deal with. 

1. It’s not great to default with these loans either. Defaulting and declaring bankruptcy does NOT absolve you from the loan. Your wages can still be garnished if the collections agency sues you and wins. 

2. If you make regular payments, the loan servicer will not settle your debt with you. Because they’d rather have your interest payments. If you default in order to settle with the collections agency who buys your debt, you’d better have enough cash to pay them off in one lump sum. They will bargain with you to get you to pay between 50-60% of your loan. If you owe 100K, do you have 60K in disposable income to settle? With that kind of cash, you shouldn’t ruin your credit!  

3. You can now refinance your loans! Due to new legislation (I think it’s Elizabeth Warren’s doing), you are allowed to consolidate all your private loans under one bank and get a lower interest rate, maybe a lower fixed interest rate. I’m willing to bet your interest rates are at 8% or higher. You can consolidate all these to under 5%, or even as low as 2%–the better your credit, the better your rate. I would consider perhaps working with the credit unions instead of a bank.

I hope this helps you. If you have any questions, please send me a message and I’ll do my best to help you figure it out. Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP! :) 

GREECE, Thessaloníki : An elderly man is crying outside a national bank branch as pensioners queue to get their pensions, with a limit of 120 euros, in Thessaloniki on 3 July, 2015. Greece is almost evenly split over a crucial weekend referendum that could decide its financial fate, with a ‘Yes’ result possibly ahead by a whisker, the latest survey Friday showed. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government is asking Greece’s voters to vote 'No’ to a technically phrased question asking if they are willing to accept more tough austerity conditions from international creditors in exchange for bailout funds. AFP PHOTO /Sakis Mitrolidis                        

SUMMARY OF WHATS HAPPENING IN GREECE

I can understand how people may get confused on what’s going on in Greece and why it’s such a big deal. The articles I’ve read on it have been very complex and hard to understand so you sort of give up on trying to get it, even I’m still having troubles getting it but I’ll try to explain as simply and best as I can, bear with me. Greece entered the euro in 2001 but the whole shared currency idea was a bad idea in the first place because if you have a poorer countries like Greece who have high unemployment rates, well they need to print more money making the euro less valuable and making exports cheaper so countries will buy from them and tourism increases because it’s cheaper but this is a problem when you have richer countries like Germany who have a low unemployment rate, want export prices to be higher and print less money so the euro would be more valuable, this is a problem because there’s only one currency that can’t accommodate for both ends of the scale. That’s the first problem. For some time Greece flourished although before 2008 there was a lot of spending going on by the Greek government (military, public sector jobs, pensions, the 2004 Olympics and other social benefits), so to begin with, the Greek government was spending more then they were receiving. After the 2008 financial crisis, Greece owed a lot of money. In 2010 Greece was locked out of financial markets and the only way thought back in was borrowing money of the European Central Bank, euro zone countries and the IMF. Greece was given two bailouts, one of 110 billion euros and the second was 130 billion euros. These bailouts were not without consequences. These countries and banks and whatnot made the Greek government force austerity on the people. This means higher taxes, lower incomes, pensions, health care and social services were reduced and it created devastation among the Greek population. Unemployment and suicide rates are at an all time high because people can’t afford to live. This austerity plan only made things worse for Greece and the people of Greece. Greece now owes about 320 billion euros. Countries and funds and banks and what not are refusing debt relief even though Greece has no way to pay off the debt. Now the government is making the people vote either yes or no in this referendum. Yes is to keep going with this austerity plan and keep growing this debt basically and no is to possibly (not certainly) go back to the old currency the drachma and maybe leave the eurozone (none of this is 100% certain). No one has really been told what will happen 100% whatever the outcome so that’s what people fear. There are fears of civil unrest and poverty (even more so then now). Either way both outcomes of the referendum aren’t good, it’s like choosing out of two evils. It’s a little more complex then this explanation and I urge people to go look into it more because I know I would have left bits out but it’s just to get a basic understanding of this issue.

Reagan’s ideology created the massive student loan debt crisis we have today. Conservatives have cut spending toward higher education more and more since Reagan was president which has forced institutions to make up their needed operational costs by raising student tuition year after year which then led to massive student loan debt for millions. Instead of investing in America by supplementing higher education, conservatives have instead set America up to fail. Education is the key to prosperity. Education is the ticket to the American dream. Republicans want education to be a privilege not a right. This is how conservatives are destroying our future. -mk

U.S. debt headed toward Greek levels

The projection of US debt for the next 25 years looks a lot like Greece’s debt over the past 25.

From the Washington Examiner:

United States’ projected debt over the next 25 years looks a lot like Greece’s over the past 25.

With all the chaos unravelling in Greece, Congress would be wise to do what it takes to avoid reaching Greek debt levels. But it’s not a matter of sticking to the status quo and avoiding bad decisions that would put the budget on a Greek-like path, because the budget is on that path already.

A quarter-century ago, Greek debt levels were roughly 75 percent of Greece’s economy — about equal to what the U.S. has now. As of 2014, Greek debt levels are about 177 percent of national GDP. Now, the country is considering defaulting on its loans and uncertainty is gripping the economy.

Read the Rest

As we’ve said many times before, our spending levels are utterly unsustainable. There are simply not enough rich people to tax. The only possible chance we have of fixing our debt problem is to cut spending severely. And even then, it would be almost impossible to pay back our debt. Even still, you know a spending reduction of any kind isn’t going to happen, especially a substantial one. After all, remember how the infinitesimal-by-comparison sequester “cuts” (that weren’t actually cuts) were demonized by the big-government left? Grandma was going to die, planes were going to fall from the sky, even men were going to beat their wives, all because the spending increase from one year to the next was going to be slightly less than originally proposed. All this means is that Greece’s mess is coming here. Obviously there’s no way to predict when. But it’s coming, nonetheless.

Ten Ways To Pay For College Right Now

Sometimes, the hardest part is simply knowing where to begin. Here are some tips:

1) Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify.

2) Apply for national grants. Options include Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants and National SMART Grants.

3) Apply for local scholarships. Civic organizations and religious institutions often have meaningful amounts of aid to dole out.

4) Getting into more than one school translates to a higher likelihood of receiving a big financial aid package.

5) Bargain! Even schools that only provide need-based aid sometimes come up with drastically different offers.

6)  AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services Corps and ROTC programs offer college money in exchange for a service commitment.

7) Look abroad. At Scotland’s St. Andrews, U.S. students pay only $21,650.

8) Stay home. Starting out at a low-cost community college and transferring to a four-year college for the final two years will wipe away a hefty chunk of room and board costs, as well as some tuition.

9)  The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two excellent options.

10)  Don’t forget to consult your local expert – guidance counselors are often aware of options you may not have considered; best of all, their help is free.

Read more.

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Here’s What You Need to Know About Greece’s Financial Crisis

Long story short -  you cannot spend yourself into solvency and you cannot have more takers than makers.  This affects you because you have morons who are running for the highest office in the land, like Bernie Sanders, who do not understand this basic economic principle and our country is starting to look a lot like Greece.

People can try to collect on debts you no longer owe. If you think that being hassled about debt from 14 years ago is ridiculous, that’s because it is. Every state in the U.S. has a statute of limitations on debt, ranging from three to 10 years, counted from the day you stop making payments. After that time has passed, collection agencies can’t sue for the debt or do much more than shake their fists at you about it. Much like your childhood hopes and dreams, these old debts still technically exist, but they have almost no effect in the real world.

4 Legal Loopholes That Screw You When You’re Poor

medium.com
Thomas Piketty: "Germany has never repaid"

Excerpt from an interview with German magazine, Zeit.

Piketty: “But not when it comes to repaying debts! Germany’s past, in this respect, should be of great significance to today’s Germans. Look at the history of national debt: Great Britain, Germany, and France were all once in the situation of today’s Greece, and in fact had been far more indebted. The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe.

Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.”

ZEIT: But shouldn’t they repay their debts?

Piketty: “My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.”