Alan Nasser is professor emeritus of Political Economy at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He co-authored "The Student Loan Debt Bubble" along with Kelly Norman, which appeared in CounterPunch.)And there's a lot more. This is a problem that could get young people in the streets someday.
MW Is it possible to "walk away" from a student loan and declare bankruptcy?
Alan Nasser--- No, it's not possible for student debtors to escape financial devastation by declaring bankruptcy. This most fundamental of consumer protections would have been available to student debtors were it not for legislation explicitly designed to withhold a whole range of basic protections from student borrowers. I'm not talking only about bankruptcy protection, but also truth in lending requirements, statutes of limitations, refinancing rights and even state usury laws – Congress has rendered all these protections inapplicable to federally guaranteed student loans. The same legislation also gave collection agencies hitherto unimaginable powers, for example to garnish wages, tax returns, Social Security benefits and -believe it or not- Disability income. Twisting the knife, legislators made the suspension of state-issued professional licenses, termination of public employment and denial of security clearances legitimate measures to enable collection companies to wring financial blood from bankrupt student-loan borrowers. Student loan debt is the most punishable of all forms of debt - most of those draconian measures are unavailable to credit card companies. (Maybe I'm being too harsh. Sallie Mae recently announced that it will after all forgive a debt under either of two conditions: in case the borrower dies or becomes totally disabled.)
MW--Is it fair to say that the student loan industry is a scam that targets borrowers who will never be able to repay their debts? Are these students like the people who were seduced into taking out subprime loans? How much money is involved and how much of that money is either presently in default or headed for default?
Alan Nasser---It's as fair as fair can be. First, the student loan industry is huge – a large majority of students from every type of school are in debt. Debt is held by 62 percent of students enrolled at public colleges and universities, 72 percent at private non-profit schools and 96 percent at private, for-profit ("proprietary") schools. It was announced last summer that total student loan debt, at $830 billion, now exceeds total US credit card debt, which is itself bloated to the bubble level of $827 billion. And student loan debt is growing at the rate of $90 billion a year. So we're not talking small change.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Student Loan Bubble
Mike Whitney writes in Counterpunch about the Student Loan Bubble: