Let Us Turn Our Anger At Biden Into Organization

We should take the examples of the Biden administration reversing course on unpopular decisions — refusing to extend the student loan moratorium, refusing to send masks, etc — as but a taste of the power we could have if we used our rage to get organized. Biden and his cronies are far more scared of our power as workers than they are of our tweets. So, what concessions have been given, have been given to stave off the birth of a social movement that could win a lot more.

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Student Leaders Call On Biden To Cancel Student Loan Debt

We, the undersigned 111 student government leaders representing over 1.4 million students, write to urge you to exercise your executive authority, as designated by the Higher Education Act of 1965, to cancel all federal student loan debt immediately.

As student leaders, we have seen the harrowing financial, social, and mental health impacts that the crushing weight of student loan debt imposes upon students and alumni by exacerbating the financial insecurity, social inequities, and economic stagnation which impacts over 44 million borrowers in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recognized the burden of such debt on borrowers, pausing student loan repayments and lowering the interest rate to 0%.

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Student Debt Cancellation Is A Racial Justice Issue

With many of President Biden’s legislative priorities stalled, pressure is mounting on the administration to use executive authority to cancel student debts — a move that would substantially narrow racial wealth gaps.

In a recent House floor speech, Rep. Ayanna Pressley pointed out that the student debt crisis disproportionately impacts the Black community.

“But for too long,” Pressley said, “the narrative has excluded us and the unique ways in which this debt is exacerbating racial and economic inequities, compounding our gender and racial wealth gap.”

Pressley joined Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer in a December letter to Biden asking that he consider using executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debts.

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The Hypocritical Oath

The end of medical school is a moment that, for many medical school graduates, is several years — sometimes several generations — in the making. After four grueling years the graduate is ready to officially get that “MD” behind their name. But what else has the four years of medical school done for the soon-to-be physician? As previously discussed, medical school is not an apolitical environment in which “medical knowledge” is simply passed on to each student. Mechanisms are put in place to condition students to be less likely to question systems of power. Overall, the medical school structure serves as an indoctrination system. By the time they graduate, medical students are forced to take on massive amounts of student loans — the average medical school graduate has around $250,000 in student loan debt — which serves as a form of economic control and coercion.

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Education Shouldn’t Be A Debt Sentence

When you look at a student like myself, you don’t know that I am working multiple jobs, that I have gone without health insurance at some points, that I’ve been living at home with my parents for more than a year. You also do not know about my family’s medical debt, or about my father’s periods of unemployment, or that my mother’s job as a preschool aide isn’t enough to cover the gaps.

Even though I have mowed my former mailman’s lawn for eight summers to help afford school, even though I secured two “free” years of campus housing through my job as a resident assistant and received numerous scholarships, awards and assistance, I still graduated from a state school with $17,000 in debt. I carry this debt from my bachelor’s degree as I go into my second year of graduate school.

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Virginia State University Unveils Student Debt Cancellation Initiative

The debt elimination effort was financed through the CARES Act. For scholars who attended the institution during 2020 and spring 2021, all debt owed to the school will be erased. Donald Palm, Ph.D., who serves as Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, says the effort will play a pivotal role in shaping their financial futures. He also mentioned students should be solely focused on learning without feeling the burden of unaffordability. “We care about our students and their academic success and want to provide them the privilege of moving forward with a zero balance,” he said in a statement. “We believe that relieving them from these balances will provide much-needed relief that will allow our scholars to focus more intently on their academics and degree completion.”

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On Education, Biden Is Making Sure ‘Nothing Will Fundamentally Change’

When it comes to education policy, Joe Biden is following through on his promise that nothing will fundamentally change.

While he expressed support for some progressive measures on the campaign trail, like ending the high-stakes testing mandate for K-12 and giving relief to higher education students and borrowers, his actions so far have led some to surmise that corporatists and reformers are running the show at the Department of Education. Secretary Miguel Cardona has taken a prolonged “Help is Here” tour, but urgent demands from students, parents, and teachers are going unmet.

Here’s a breakdown of the administration’s handling of key education issues so far.

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Biden To Review Executive Authority To Cancel Student Debt

Washington, DC – President Joe Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to prepare a memo about his legal authority to cancel student debt, chief of staff Ron Klain said Thursday, as pressure grows for the administration to address the student loan crisis crippling millions of Americans.

Klain said in an interview with Politico that Biden will decide how to proceed once he reviews the memo, which could be sent to his desk in the next few weeks.

“He’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision,” Klain said. “He hasn’t made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.”

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This Is Why It Is Imperative That President Biden, Not Congress, Cancels Student Debt

The current student debt burden is over $2 trillion and it is crushing the economy. Defaults on student loans are high and for most borrowers, especially those who are people of color, their loan balances are rising instead of falling. Clearing the FOG speaks with Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice about the impacts of the student loan burden and how to resolve this crisis. He makes a critical point about why it is President Biden, as he promised on the campaign trail, and not Congress, who cancels student debt and why that would be a powerful way to stimulate the economy.

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Biden’s First Month Marked By Broken Promises

One month into his presidential career and Joe Biden has already left a trail of broken promises on progressive legislation. Yesterday, it was reported that the president held a closed-door meeting with a group of mayors and governors. At the first sign of pushback from Republicans in the room, he immediately dropped his support for the $15 minimum wage on the basis that he needed bipartisan support to pass it. Given that Democrats control the House, Senate, and the White House, this position seems surprising. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said, according to those present. “Right now, we have to prepare for this not making it,” he added. As Politico noted, there was no further negotiation on the minimum wage after that; the topic was simply dropped.

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Report: Young People In The United States Are Overrun With Student Debt

Young Americans are overrun with student debt. This crisis is the culmination of waning government funding for higher education, wage stagnation, wealth inequality, and a misleading emphasis on obtaining high credentials—all leading to the financial gap between college prices and later earnings. In 2020, aggregate balances reached $1.66 trillion in 2019 dollars, 122% higher in real dollars than in 2010. Not surprisingly, the number of borrowers, the amount they owe, and the number of loans each borrower acquires, have all increased over the time period. In 2019, 18-35 year-olds with student loan debt owed nearly $35,000 on average compared to just over $28,000 (USD 2019) in 2009. Back in 2009 there were only 32 million federal borrowers; in 2019, that number swelled to 43 million.

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Debt In The Time Of Pandemic

On New Year’s Day, I received an email from Navient, a student loan servicing company, requesting that I pay $4,442 by January 28.

Initially, all I could feel was shame for being in so much debt. But soon, my feelings of shame transformed into anger – how could they request such a big payment, in such a short time period, amid a global pandemic that left so many young people like me unemployed or underemployed, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on their tables?

Indeed, I am hardly the only person with an American education worrying about student loan repayments in the middle of the most serious public health crisis the world has faced in decades.

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People In Debt Have Formed A Union To Fight Back

In November, Pennsylvania permitted the resumption of utility shutoffs during the pandemic. In advance, the local Debt Collective, which helps people dispute their debts and fight back against predatory fees, protested. The group helped organize a gathering of between 20 and 30 protesters in Philadelphia to demand the moratorium continue. “We are tired of this,” Pennsylvania Debt Collective organizer Lauren Horner told CBS. “We are tired of the greed displayed by these organizations.” Horner was referring to the Philadelphia Gas Works, the PECO Energy Company, and to what some in the Debt Collective regard as the negligence of the Public Utility Commission.

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Columbia University Students Are Preparing To Launch A Tuition Strike

At the end of Novem­ber, mem­bers of the Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty-Barnard Col­lege chap­ter of Young Demo­c­ra­t­ic Social­ists of Amer­i­ca (YDSA) launched a tuition strike cam­paign against ​“exor­bi­tant tuition rates” which, they say, ​“con­sti­tute a sig­nif­i­cant source of finan­cial hard­ship” dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Stu­dent demands are wide-rang­ing and include a 10% reduc­tion in the cost of atten­dance, 10% increase in finan­cial aid, and an amal­ga­ma­tion of demands from dis­parate stu­dent cam­paigns, many of which were set in motion long before the pan­dem­ic began.

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Over 235 Organizations Call On Biden To Cancel Student Debt

Washington, D.C. — Over 235 organizations sent a letter to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, calling on them to use executive authority to cancel federal student debt on day one of their administration.

In the letter, 238 nonprofit and community organizations highlight that cancelling student debt would stimulate the economy, help reduce the racial wealth gap, and could have a positive impact on health outcomes. The groups write that “executive action is one of the few available tools that could immediately provide a boost to upwards of 44 million borrowers and the economy…

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