Student loan debt just hit a record high of $ 1.465 trillion. This is double the $ 675 billion in loan debt accumulated in June 2009, according to a recent report of Bloomberg. With over 44.5 million people with student loan debt, it is increasingly part of the platforms of high-level progressive decision-makers.
The national conversation has come a long way in the years since activists began pushing the issue of student debt during the 2008 recession. Now, new Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is voicing the idea of canceling student loan debt and Senator Bernie Sanders spoke about free tuition at public colleges during his presidential campaign.
“In the beginning, we were seen as totally insecure about how the world works,” said Ann Larson, co-founder of Debt Collective. “Yet less than a decade later, Bernie Sanders, some likely presidential candidates, lawmakers, policymakers, academics and others are talking about this.
The Debt Collective is the most recent version of a few local initiatives aimed at fighting debt. The Strike Debt Network attempted to mobilize borrowers to default on enforcing student loan reform, while Rolling Jubilee used $ 701,317 in donations to buy and To cancel $ 31,982,455 in student loan debt. Today, the organization is focused on canceling all types of debt by collecting the interests of individual borrowers.
“Credit, collection and loan agencies are incredibly organized for their benefit, but people in debt don’t have any kind of institutional support,” Larson said. “Debtors need a membership-based foundation, organization and institution in which they are very real participants to defend their interests and provide assistance to them at the same time.”
Protections for student loan borrowers – especially in terms of private student loans – are almost non-existent. Borrowers face unclear loan requirements and questionable repayment practices. The country’s largest student loan lender, for example, has deceived borrowers about the terms of their repayment, resulting in illegal increases in principal balance by allocating payments to interest rather than the principal loan. Borrowers are fighting an industry based on the profitability of their debt.