Netroots Nation Panel: Student Debt Crisis / Credit: Rennie Sawade
Net­roots Nation Pan­el: Stu­dent Debt Cri­sis / Cred­it: Ren­nie Sawade

This pan­el dis­cuss­es the issues around stu­dent debt. The pan­elists are Robert Cruick­shank, Natalia Abrams, Melis­sa Byrne, Angela Peo­ples and Kay­la Wing­ber­muehle. Some of the main issues:

  • Wealth trans­fer prob­lem. Wealthy stu­dents can afford col­lege, not go into debt, and not have to work a part-time job, so they can con­cen­trate more in class­es, do bet­ter, and get into the bet­ter grad­u­ate schools.
  • Crush­ing stu­dent loan debt affects stu­dents well after col­lege. Not only with pay­ing off the loan, it can also inter­fere with retire­ment by block­ing Social Secu­ri­ty payments.
  • 529 sav­ings plans also favor those who already have money.
  • About half of stu­dent loans are at least delin­quent. The sys­tem does not work.
  • The stu­dent loan sys­tem that is cur­rent­ly in place has preda­to­ry ele­ments. One exam­ple is false ads appear­ing on Google and Face­book claim­ing Oba­ma is offer­ing stu­dent loan relief and it is real­ly a preda­to­ry loan scam.
  • Col­leges are get­ting kick­backs for direct­ing stu­dents toward cer­tain bank stu­dent loan services.

Actions to take:

Sign next to student loan crisis panel / credit: Rennie Sawade
Sign next to stu­dent loan cri­sis pan­el / cred­it: Ren­nie Sawade
  • Make stu­dent debt a cam­paign issue for 2016 pres­i­den­tial race.
  • Call for relief for those who cur­rent­ly have stu­dent loan debt. It is impor­tant to not call it “stu­dent loan for­give­ness”, because the stu­dent has not done any­thing wrong to be for­giv­en for. Stu­dent loan debt is just one of the symp­toms of a bro­ken edu­ca­tion system.
  • Pro­mote the stu­dent debt cri­sis as a bal­lot issue. Stress the impor­tance of vot­ing to change the system.
  • It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that col­lege is not just for train­ing for a job. Col­lege was orig­i­nal­ly meant to also improve one­self and expand one’s knowl­edge to be able to tack­le com­mu­ni­ty issues.
  • Com­pare the stu­dent loan cri­sis to the hous­ing cri­sis that occurred in recent his­to­ry. It is just as impor­tant and just as devastating.
  • Stress the impor­tance of the coun­try invest­ing in edu­ca­tion instead of sad­dling debt on the stu­dents is that the nation as a whole ben­e­fits from a more edu­cat­ed soci­ety. It is in the coun­try’s and com­mu­ni­ty’s best inter­est to pro­vide edu­ca­tion to its citizenry.


Ren­nie Sawade

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