Author Topic: Why student debt is a racial-justice issue  (Read 1362 times)

Offline Battle

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Re: Why student debt is a racial-justice issue
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2020, 07:47:36 am »
Friday, 20th november 2020
We Owe One Another Student Loan Forgiveness
by Roxanne Gay

I took out my first student loans more than 20 years ago.

I had dropped out of college just before the start of my junior year.

I took a couple of years off and when I went back, I had to pay for my final two years myself.

I understood the responsibility I was assuming, but I was working minimum wage jobs at the time — retail, telemarketing, bartending.

Repayment seemed like a vague, distant concept in large part because I could not fathom being able to repay such staggering amounts of money.

I went to graduate school and got two more degrees and though those programs were funded, I took out student loans because it was impossible to live on the meager stipends we were given.

One of those jobs I had as an undergrad the second time around was at a student loan company, processing loan consolidations.

I saw applications from people who owed $15,000 and people who owed $400,000 and everything in between.

I learned how expensive chiropractic and dental schools are.

I spoke with a young woman who attended Brown and was working at Walmart and had $300,000 in loans and was desperate for help.

Her monthly payment was more than she earned from her full-time job.

But mostly, I learned the intricacies of the student loan system, the ways to repay and defer or forbear them, what it takes to pay them off, and how the system is designed to extract as much money as possible from people simply trying to get an education, trying to get the necessary credentials to prosper.

Every month, I pay $1,000 to the federal government.

My balance has hovered around $140,000 for the past 10 years because most of each payment goes toward the interest.

This is a common story, but this is not a sad story because I can afford to pay my loans.

In another 15 years, whatever remains on the balance will be discharged, though I will have to pay income tax on the discharged amount.

And still, my loans are always looming on the periphery of my life, influencing every fiscal decision I make.

Student loans are the kind of debt from which there is often no escape.

They generally cannot be discharged by claiming bankruptcy.

Deferment and forbearance periods are finite.

If you default, the stain of it will follow you for quite a long time.

The consequences can be devastating — wage garnishments, no tax refunds, whatever the government needs to do to get their money back — and your credit score can be destroyed.

Many progressive politicians feature student loan forgiveness as one of their key policy ideas because they understand how big of a problem the student debt crisis is and what it will become without intervention.

With Joe Biden as president, there is a distinct possibility that some form of student loan forgiveness might become a reality.

But the debate about the issue is contentious.

It’s either a great idea or a terrible one.

It’s a way of evening the playing field or it’s unfair to people who have paid off their student loans or who never borrowed or attended college.

A great many Americans are only concerned with fairness when they think someone else might get something they won’t get.

And they are seething with resentment as they imagine a country in which we help one another.

It’s appalling, that this is where we are … that this is who we are.

No one benefits from everything our government does.

I don’t have children, but some of the money I pay in taxes goes toward education.

This serves the greater good and indirectly benefits me.

We’re all paying for infrastructure we don’t personally need or use.

It’s part of the social contract, but that contract only holds up when we are all willing to abide by its terms.

Much of the political division about student loan forgiveness can be explained by the fact that people want to benefit from the social contract without adhering to its terms.

Or they only care about the social contract as it applies to the right kinds of people.

And, of course, there is the bootstrap mentality — If I have achieved success, surely you can too —  which is delusional at best.

Then there are those who worship at the altar of personal responsibility: If you assume a debt, you must repay it.

And worst of all, there’s the sufferance doctrine: If I have experienced hardship, you must experience hardship, too.

Damon Linker, a columnist for The Week, tweeted, “I think Dems are wildly underestimating the intensity of anger college loan cancellation is going to provoke. Those with college debt will be thrilled, of course. But lots and lots of people who didn’t go to college or who worked to pay off their debts? Gonna be bad.”

This is what passes for political thinking these days — empty statements rising out of the notion that we have to govern from a place of fear about what might anger “lots and lots of people.”

Conventional wisdom seems to be that we must not trigger people by discussing radical ideas like universal health care, civil rights for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, reckoning with police violence and the carceral system, protecting women’s bodily autonomy, and of course, student debt forgiveness.

Somehow, compromise has come to mean not doing anything to upset anyone who is completely fine with ignoring the most urgent problems of our day.

Here’s the thing about anger.

We only seem to prioritize one kind — anger in reaction to progress.

And we never seem to acknowledge the anger rising out of oppression, marginalization, and under representation.

The end of slavery and desegregation angered lots and lots of people, and so did taxation, suffrage, marriage equality.
Progress angers people, but change is not the problem.

The rage and resentment are.

People are struggling.

The $1,200 stimulus checks have been spent.

The additional $600 a week of unemployment funding has run its course.

The Paycheck Protection Program has shut its doors. The economy continues to falter because we lack coherent federal leadership, and conditions will only worsen.

We are on a precipice, as we have been before and will be again.

A lot of political thinkers believe now is the time for moderation, that we are in a boat that must not be rocked.

But now is not the time for half-measures.

Now is the time for grand gestures and innovative thinking.

Now is the time for remembering the social contract and recommitting to the idea of a unified country where we understand how intimately we are all connected.

Now is the time for understanding that empathy is infinite if we allow it to be.

This country has to rise out of the bitter ashes of Indy-1’s fascism.

Student loan forgiveness won’t solve all the problems we are facing, but it will ease a significant burden for tens of millions of people.

It will stimulate the lagging economy.

And though not everyone will directly benefit, the country as a whole will improve.

As a public, we owe a debt to one another — the debt of belonging to a community.

It’s time that debt was paid.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 09:13:03 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Why student debt is a racial-justice issue
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2021, 05:02:50 pm »
Thursday, 18th March Twenty One
Cardona will fully cancel debt of many students defrauded by colleges
by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

About 72,000 people will have their federal loans fully canceled after Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday scrapped a plan to give partial debt relief to students defrauded by their colleges, ending a controversial policy instituted by his predecessor Betsy DeVos.

The move — Cardona’s first major higher education announcement since being confirmed — amounts to roughly $1 billion in debt relief.

But it only addresses a subset of the nearly 200,000 people who have filed claims in the last six years under a statute known as “borrower defense to repayment.”

“Borrowers deserve a simplified and fair path to relief when they have been harmed by their institution’s misconduct,” Cardona said in a statement.

“A close review of these claims and the associated evidence showed these borrowers have been harmed and we will grant them a fresh start from their debt.”

Students are entitled to a discharge of their debt when their college uses illegal and deceptive tactics to persuade them to borrow, but individual-1 tried to limit that relief.

DeVos created a methodology for processing claims that compared median earnings of graduates who have made debt relief claims with those of graduates from comparable programs.

The bigger the difference, the more relief an applicant will receive.

Critics of the policy said graduate earnings were a faulty measure as many applicants never completed their degree and the formula created impossible standards for many to get full relief.

The policy was a stark contrast from the Obama administration’s practice of granting full cancellation when it determined a college committed fraud.

Under Cardona’s leadership, the department will revive the Obama-era policy.

Borrowers whose claims have been approved, including those who previously received partial loan relief, will have a path to a full loan discharge.

The department will reimburse any amounts paid on the loans, request credit bureaus to remove negative reporting tied to the debt and reinstate federal aid eligibility, officials said.

Eligible borrowers will be notified in the coming weeks, according to the department.

All of the approved claimants subject to the new policy attended for-profit colleges.

The new policy only applies to claims that have been approved to date, not any that are still under review or those have been rejected.

A senior department official told reporters Thursday the agency is reviewing the best approach for those claims going forward.

The Biden administration said it will also pursue an overhaul of the prior administration’s rewrite of the borrower defense rules, a process that will require new rulemaking.

Thursday’s announcement arrives as the Education Department remains embroiled in lawsuits over DeVos’s treatment of debt relief claims.

Consumer groups criticized the Biden administration in February for backing the former secretary’s fight to avoid testifying about her role in slow-walking and denying scores of claims.

The Justice Department argued in a joint filing with DeVos’s personal attorney that her deposition would be “extraordinary, unnecessary and unsupported.”

Although DeVos is no longer a party to the class-action lawsuit, attorneys for the borrowers say new evidence reveals she signed off on a plan to intentionally delay and reject claims.

A trove of internal memos the Education Department recently turned over show top officials directing staff to stop processing applications and issue mass denials regardless of the nature of the claim.

When borrowers sued in 2019, individual-1 denied having any such policies.

Documents show the department instituted quotas that effectively encouraged denials, say attorneys.

People charged with processing the claims were required to review a minimum of five cases an hour.

And despite denial notices saying applicants could submit their claims for reconsideration, officials admitted under oath that there was no process in place for that, according to an amended complaint to be filed Thursday.

“The previous administration turned borrower defense into a total sham that was rigged to deny claims without any true consideration,” said Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, a group representing the borrowers.

“The Biden-Harris administration must now address these failings or else perpetuate a system that is stacked against the very students they are supposed to protect.”

The new evidence came to light after the federal judge overseeing the case rejected a proposed settlement in October and requested more details about the federal agency’s procedures for reviewing claims.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in the Northern District of California criticized DeVos for denying 94 percent of the debt relief claims the department had processed since reaching the agreement in April, accusing her of undermining the deal.

The Education Department had agreed to clear out nearly 170,000 unresolved claims within a year and a half under the proposed settlement.

The agreement was one of individual-1’s first significant moves toward a resolution.

After taking office, DeVos refused to approve or deny applications for debt relief, saying her administration needed time to review the process created under the Obama administration.

Tens of thousands of claims piled up before the secretary decided to grant partial debt relief, which led to a lawsuit from former Corinthian Colleges students.

DeVos said the case ground the system to a halt.

But borrowers argued that it had no bearing on their applications and took legal action against the secretary

Offline Battle

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Re: Why student debt is a racial-justice issue
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2021, 10:04:57 am »
Thursday, 19th August Two Thousand & Twenty One
US to erase student debt for those with severe disabilities

The Biden administration announced Thursday it will automatically erase student loan debt for more than 300,000 Americans with severe disabilities that leave them unable to earn significant incomes.

The move will wipe out more than $5.8 billion in debt, according to the Education Department, and it marks the start of a broader overhaul of a program that has been criticized for having overly burdensome rules.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates about the need for this change and we are excited to follow through on it,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The federal government offers student debt relief for people who are “totally and permanently disabled” and have limited incomes.

But the current rules require them to submit documentation of their disability and undergo a three-year monitoring period to prove they’re earning little pay.

Tens of thousands of people have been dropped from the program and had their loans reinstated simply because they failed to submit proof of their earnings, however, and critics say the complex rules deter some from applying.

Advocates have pressed the Education Department to eliminate the monitoring period entirely and to provide automatic debt relief to people who the Social Security Administration already identifies as permanently disabled.

Under the new action, both demands will be met.

Starting in September, the Education Department will start erasing student debt for 323,000 Americans identified in Social Security records as being permanently disabled.

Borrowers will be notified once they have been approved for relief.

All of the loans are expected to be discharged by the end of the year.

The department also plans to eliminate the program’s three-year monitoring period, which was previously suspended during the pandemic.

That change is expected to be cemented during a federal rulemaking process set to start in October, the agency said.

“This is going to be a smooth process for our borrowers,” Cardona said in a call with reporters.

“They’re not going to have to be applying for it or getting bogged down by paperwork.”

Advocates celebrated the change as a victory. Aaron Ament, president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, called it a “life-changing” step.

“This is a huge moment for hundreds of thousands of borrowers with disabilities who can now move on with their lives and won’t be trapped in a cycle of debt,” he said.

The program has faced scrutiny since 2016, when a federal watchdog agency found that the income reporting process posed an obstacle for borrowers.

In 98% of cases in which loans were restored, it was because borrowers did not submit paperwork, not because their earnings were too high, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported.

individual-1 started granting automatic loan cancellations to eligible military veterans in 2019, but the move did not apply to hundreds of thousands of other Americans with disabilities.

In March, the Education Department canceled debt for more than 40,000 borrowers whose debt had been restored because of paperwork issues, but it indicated further changes would need to come through a federal rulemaking process.

Cardona announced the change as the White House faces mounting pressure to pursue wider debt forgiveness.

Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, have called on Biden to erase $50,000 in student debt for all borrowers as a way to jumpstart the economy.

Biden has asked the Education and Justice departments to assess the legality of mass debt cancellation. Cardona said Thursday that those conversations are “still under way.”

Meanwhile, he said, his agency is working to improve other debt forgiveness programs that target specific groups of borrowers.

“It’s an effort to show that we are working to improve targeted loan relief and help our borrowers,” he said.

Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Why student debt is a racial-justice issue
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2021, 08:12:36 am »
Student loans: A 'teacher penalty' is crushing generations of educators with debt