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Open letter to President Obama

I have something very serious on my mind, Mr. President.  It’s called student loan debt.  It’s a big fat nightmare.

I remember the SOTU address when you first mentioned the student loan debt issue.  I was thrilled; I’d been hiding for years behind my burden of student loan debts, thinking I was the only one with this problem.  I heard you mention how you and Michelle both had student loan debts and how you’d struggled with it.  I was hopeful that there was some solution, some way to ease the burden I felt.

But the reforms for loans you mentioned didn’t affect me; in fact, the reforms didn’t help the millions already stuck in repayment.  Forgiving student loans after 20 years of repayment and capping payments at 10% of one’s discretionary income did nothing to help me.  I felt sick.

I kept thinking to myself:  I did the right thing; I went to college, I graduated, I got a higher ed degree.  I kept asking myself—was it worth it?  Why am I in so much debt when all I was trying to accomplish to get a better position in a field I loved?  And how had my loans—which were substantial, I’ll admit—now tripled in size due to interest?  I felt completely and utterly helpless.

Then the economy tanked, and I worked 3 jobs just to make rent.  I had a Master’s degree, yet no commensurate job or income.  I now still work 2 jobs and make less than $30k annually.  Was the MA worth it?  You do the math.

Mr. President:  the changes you made did not give any help to the more than 37 million Americans already in student loan debt hell.  The student loan industry is a fraud.  There is absolutely NO consumer protection for students.  Universities and lending corporations have turned us all into cash cows.

Mr. President, I want to know what you are going to do about this problem?

The student loan debt is on the verge of $1 Trillion dollars.  All because Americans wanted to go to school to better themselves and give themselves better opportunities in the workforce.

WE DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS.  EDUCATION SHOULD BE A RIGHT, NOT A COMMODITY.

Mr. President, I am tired of being embarrassed and ashamed because I did the “right thing.”

Education is NOT a commodity.

Bankruptcy laws cover back child support debt and gambling debt, but have NO protection for those of us who wanted a higher education and got screwed.

I will stand up to the student loan industry, and what I want to know, Mr. Obama, is will you stand with me?

DON’T FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT; ERADICATE IT.

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Gosh, I wish I could do math like Sallie Mae; I’d be one rich fucking bitch.

What a scam they’ve got going:  they are selling the American education dream.  What they don’t tell you (and what many of us have found out after graduation) is this: you will pay for that American dream forever.  And ever and ever and ever.  You will never ever get out of debt.

Sounds great, huh?  Sure, grad school looks awesome and you think you will grab a better paying job somewhere after grad school, but that doesn’t always happen. I hesitated like crazy before I entered grad school; I was terrified of the cost and of taking on more debt.  I should have listened to my instincts.

The thing that really sickens me is that somehow, some way, even though I paid for many years and gave up what amounts to a rent payment to those loan sharks, I still owe over double the amount I borrowed.  What the hell kind of math is that?  That’s 100% interest!  Which leads me to believe what others are also starting to believe:  the student loan industry is just one big giant scam. It’s a money-making machine.

Up until 2005, student loan debt could be discharged through bankruptcy, but under the GW Bush administration, that got taken away.  Sallie Mae spends millions to lobby against programs that give students grant money, so that students are forced to borrow to get an education.  If you don’t think corporations are fucking with your life, think again.  This is just one example of how having money means having influence over law, which means it has influence over you.

There have been controversies here and there regarding deceptive lending practices, one which involved minorities being charged higher interest rates.  I hope this scam bursts like bubbles in the bath.

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