Student loan debt buries 37 million people in the United States and now exceeds $1 trillion. On average, students borrow $26,000 to pay for an education which is either free or of minimal cost in most advanced countries.
Higher education is increasingly treated as an individual commodity, rather than a public good or an investment in our collective future. As a result, millions are putting off major purchases and life decisions – especially graduates of color, who have disproportionately higher debt. This is NOT only a "young person's problem." Most of the student loan debt is owed by people older than 30.
This crisis has a crushing ripple effect on our economy: students and recent graduates are forced into low-wage jobs in order to immediately start making payments back to banks and lenders; instead of stimulating the economy by spending millions of dollars, many are pinching pennies to just try to keep up with the interest on their loans.
Meanwhile, total public and private tuition costs are $170 billion per year – one fifth of what we spend on the military per year. We can afford to do better.
1) Build a movement capable of winning free higher education for all in the long term, by organizing debt holders.
2) Demand a short term reform which would throw a lifeline to 37 million student debt holders. Specifically, we want President Obama to use an executive order to dramatically expand the Income Based Repayment Program (a program he himself created via executive order).
The current Income Based Repayment Plan allows some students to pay 10% of their discretionary income for 20 years and have the rest of their loans forgiven. Our goal is to:
- allow all student loans to be repaid at an annual rate of 10% of discretionary income and be forgiven after 10 years;
- expand the program to cover all student loans, public and private.
Upload your student debt story to our Drop Student Debt Tumblr.
Sign our online petition.
Begin organizing people in your community by collecting petition signatures face to face and talking to them about the student debt crisis. Download a copy of the petition here.
Learn more about the campaign and ways to get more involved by calling in to one of our Campaign Briefing conference calls. RSVP here.