Archives for April 21, 2009

The Bogus “American Dream:” Higher Education Loans

 

Copyright LadyB. All Rights Reserved 2009.

By: Anuradha Pandey, guest blogger

One of the steps to attaining the American Dream of economic prosperity is getting a college education.

However, our society is so hypocritical that in order to reach the point on the ladder, that supposedly allows you to get a decently paying job, you have to take on massive amounts of debt.

Then you are forced to pay it off at a predatory interest rate before you can actually accumulate any wealth.

Many college graduates leave school with a mortgage before they even own a house.

It is appalling that our government does not find this the least bit inexcusable.

If you’re lucky, the tuition at your university is low enough that you only have to take on federal loans.

Most students aren’t that lucky and have to turn to private lenders who have made sure that student loan legislation that actually protects students doesn’t make it through Congress.

Prior to the credit crisis, Sallie Mae’s stock skyrocketed and its executives were routinely among the highest paid in the country.

Sallie Mae has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress in the last fifteen years.

In 1997, the Higher Education Act was amended under pressure from student loan companies to make defaulted student loans the most lucrative and easiest type of debt to collect.

The amendments allowed for huge penalties to be attached to defaulted debt, removed bankruptcy protection for students, allowed for wage garnishments, tax garnishment, social security garnishment, termination from employment, and withholding of professional certifications, among other draconian punitive measures.

In some cases, student loan defaulters have committed suicide after sustained mental harassment from debt collectors.

Where is the outrage?

According to a report released on April 9, 2002 entitled Too Small to Help: The Plight of Financially Distressed Student Loan Borrowers, while the lenders who made predatory student loans are potentially eligible for the government’s TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility) and TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailouts, student borrowers are deemed “too small to help.”

President Obama claims that a college education should be available to all Americans, but so far in the chaos that is the bank bailouts and the drama of “populist” outrage, neither the media, Obama nor the Democrats in Congress have said anything about helping the people who are supposed to be this country’s future.

The fact that we first have to bury ourselves in massive amounts of debt to have a chance at a decent job is yet another facet of the farcical American Dream that we are told about our entire lives.

The extortionist practices of higher education ensure that we have to become cogs in the machine when we graduate, and learning is no longer for learning’s sake.

We either become bloodsuckers or fall off society’s grid.

As much as I hate conspiracy theories, this is a case of the system making sure we fail.

Anuradha Pandey is a graduate student at the University of Florida. She has a B.A. in History, Religion and a minor in French from UF. Currently, she is a candidate for an M.A. in British Imperial History and hopes to pursue a PhD in the same field. In her spare time she is a political junkie

 

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