Something potentially life-changing for millions of people has happened.
On March 8, 2012, Rep. Hansen Clarke introduced H.R. 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. This act proposes that people with federal student loan debt pay 10% of their discretionary income for a period of 10 years, and then the rest of the debt would be forgiven. I’m not clear on the details, but I’m also hearing that somehow it proposes to roll private debt into federal debt so it would apply, too.
Student loan debt is financially crippling millions of people and having negative effects on the economic recovery efforts.
Suze Ormond gives a very good explanation here of why student loan debt is contributing to the economic crisis in America. Not to mention the personal cost for young people trying to start out in life with the double whammy of a poor economy and serious loan debt. What’s even less certain is how this will affect Americans for generations to come, with some calling young Americans “The New Lost Generation.”
When you can barely afford to pay your loans, you aren’t buying cars. You aren’t buying houses. You aren’t spending a lot of money on consumer items or vacations. You’re trying to scrape up enough money to pay that bill so Sallie Mae will stop sending you threatening letters.
Think what would happen if suddenly, all of the people sending most of their paychecks to student loan companies had hundreds of dollars more to spend on other things.
- Think how many people would move out of their family home and get a place of their own.
- Think how many people would buy a car.
- Think how many couples would decide to get married.
- Think how many people would be able to start saving for retirement, or be able to afford health insurance.
- Think how many people would buy clothes, shoes, electronics, or better-quality food.
- Think how many people would stop considering suicide as the only way out of an apparently impossible financial crisis.
- And now think how all that money flooding into the economy would improve things in America.This is one economic problem that is not going to get better over time without action. It’s actually getting worse. It’s not only students themselves suffering. With nowhere else to go, many have moved back in with families and are relying on family support. That’s making it very hard for their parents to retire.
To date, the government has done little to nothing to help out people with existing student debt, despite economists screaming from the rooftops that student loans are a bubble about to burst and when it does, it could tip the country right back into another full-blown recession or even depression. At the very least, it’s likely hampering efforts to get the economy back on track.
It’s telling when you consider where the government chooses to help. The government bailed out the banks. It bailed out the auto industry. It put in place measures to help people facing foreclosure. It’s looking at addressing credit card rules. But what has it done to help people with student loans, which – again – is now a larger problem than credit card debt?
This is a groundbreaking measure and it needs people to get behind it immediately and show their support, to let Congress know what such a relief could mean to a generation of young people struggling under a mountain of debt unlike anything our country has seen before.
I fully support The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 as a way to help stimulate the economy, remove a financial and emotional burden from millions of people, and help pull the country out of the sinkhole it entered nearly four years ago.
The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 will stop the bleeding. We need other things to happen, too.
- We need representatives to call for student loan reforms to stop the problem for future generations.
- We need representatives to call for colleges and universities to bring down tuition for current and future students.
- We need representatives to support community and technical colleges.
- We need to change the tenor of conversation about higher education in America.
- We need media to start asking the hard questions about why this happened in the first place.
But first, we have to put a tourniquet on the debt that is bleeding Americans dry.
If you support this bill, contact your representatives and senators and tell them so immediately. Call them. Email them. Write letters.
For more information, check out http://forgivestudentloandebt.com/
You can track the bill through GovTrack here.
Sign the petition here!
And SPREAD THE WORD!