FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Desperate Students

by Rev. JESSE L. JACKSON

The sign at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration revealed the struggles of America’s young: “A B.A., $30,000 in student debt and no job.” Young people are graduating from college into the worst jobs market since the 1930s while carrying record levels of student debt. The sad truth of Occupy Wall Street is that for many of the young activists, Wall Street occupied them first.

Students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago, even adjusting for inflation. Debt has doubled in just five years. Student debt is likely to exceed $1 trillion over the next year.

As states cut back on college support and grants, college tuitions have risen faster than the cost of homes, health care or energy. Americans believe a college education is key to their children’s future, so more and more borrow what they can.

Students are now graduating with average debts of over $24,000. When I speak to families in mining towns in Appalachia, I ask how many have lost a job, how many face foreclosure, how many face costly medical bills. Many hands go up. But when I ask how many worry about student loans, the biggest portion of the audience stands up. It is working families — families stretching to give their children the chance that they never had — who are taking on the greatest debt and are at the greatest risk.

The banking industry has used its clout to make these loans the harshest of all debt. They survive bankruptcy. The lenders have broad collection powers, far greater than with a mortgage or a credit card. They can garnish wages or even Social Security payments. When payments are missed, penalties are brutal. Students who graduate and then lose their job suddenly find themselves owing twice what they signed up for.

The debt constricts normal life events. Students must put off moving out from their parents’ home, buying a car or saving for a home or retirement. They delay getting married or having children.

Defaults have soared. In 2008, more than 238,000 defaulted on their loans. The number of loans that went into forbearance or deferment (when borrowers receive temporary relief from payments) rose to 22 percent in 2007.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, struggled to pay off student debts long after they graduated. The president increased Pell grants and provided relief that would link government loan payments to income, and provide potential forgiveness for those taking public service jobs. But despite the largest increase of student aid since the GI Bill, the debts keep getting bigger.

The debt not only enslaves the borrowers, it threatens the economy. With millions of young people burdened by debt, demand for apartments, homes, cars and discretionary goods is reduced.

Occupy Wall Street can ask these hard questions:

Banks corrupted Congress with campaign contributions to facilitate their fleecing of the most vulnerable of students with the most onerous of provisions.

Why should big banks be able to get virtually interest-free money from the Federal Reserve, while students are forced to pay far higher interest rates? Why should bankruptcy courts be able to rewrite mortgages on the vacation homes of the wealthy while student loans are untouchable? Students need legislation to allow their loans to be refinanced in bankruptcy court, or forgiven. Why don’t we provide students with the grants or low-cost loans the banks get?

Many young people forgo college. Others drop out, unwilling to rack up debt. If there is anything that is too big and too important to fail, it is our next generation.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail