Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: Student Lenders "Ruthless," Loan Cover "Outrageous," and Values Upside Down

Comments (3)
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Student Lenders "Ruthless"

I appreciated your article "Killer Loans: Student loan borrowers drown in debt as lenders make billions" in the October 14, 2010 edition of the Advocate.

Being the first person in my immediate family to attend college, I started out my educational career at 27 years of age at a community college, thereafter moving to Massachusetts to attend Mount Holyoke College and finally, law school. At 38 years of age, I am now $150,000 in student loan debt, and, not having yet passed the bar exam, I am finding it impossible to pay back my student loans.

The government loan [managers] have been good about approving loan deferments for me, but the private student loan companies are ruthless. They have strung me along, leading me to believe that I would be approved for a deferral, only to finally find that I was put in default and being negatively reported to the credit bureaus. After years of having perfect credit, I now find myself with damaged credit. Fearing the loan company would try to take my home away, I am forced to make monthly payments that my unemployment check barely covers, and with the continuing poor economy, I have been unsuccessful at securing employment that will cover the cost of my student loan payments.

It astonishes me that those of us who took out student loans as a means to better ourselves and our families' lives are penalized and forced to live in poverty just in order to pay back student loans. There must be a program put in place to help the millions of people in this situation.

Thank you so much for publishing this article, and for bringing this topic to the forefront of local news. Thank you also for listing [Alan] Collinge's book [The Student Loan Scam] and the various student loan justice websites that are available. I look forward to contacting as many people as I can about this topic and working hard to bring justice to the many students and graduates who find themselves in similar situations to myself.

Jessica A. Levy
South Hadley


Without bankruptcy rights, or any other borrower rights, the lenders have no reason to negotiate with borrowers. My loan has grown from $8,500 to $30,000 over the past 22 years. I have paid back close to $9,000, but due to divorce, underemployment, unemployment, etc., I have been forced to place my loan into forbearance on several occasions. The lenders love interest capitalization and offer no other options to borrowers who cannot afford to pay. If we had bankruptcy rights, lenders would be more likely to strike a deal (reduced interest, reduced principal) instead of forcing us deeper into debt and closer to bankruptcy.

To make matters worse, many of us should qualify for teacher loan forgiveness, but do not because we didn't graduate during the special "window" of time. In my opinion this is age discrimination against older teachers who are doing the same exact job (with more experience) as younger teachers but are denied loan forgiveness because they graduated prior to 1998.

There should also be a cap on the amount a lender can add on to the principal of a student loan. Without controls in place, the lender is free to take advantage of borrowers who fall behind by increasing their debt and payment amounts with no limits. This situation makes it impossible for borrowers to regain control of their debt. Unless we have bankruptcy rights, we have nothing to hold over the lenders to force a more reasonable outcome.

Mona McCormack
via Online Comments


Loan Cover Outrageous

I just hope I'm not the only one that writes you to state the obvious: that the cover of this week's paper is simply outrageous. It seems that your incessant need to shock and sensationalize in the name of an otherwise "important issue" outweighs any possibility of sensitivity, in this case to the very real possibilities (and facts) of suicides from burdensome debt. There are other ways to depict crushing debt. Or are we to assume you're now also pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in depictions of death in mass media?

Andy Voda


I cannot begin to fathom how it totally escaped you that a simulated hanging [of a] young student would not be the most timely cover for your newest issue of the Advocate. Have you completely missed the recent series of suicides among young gay or perceived gay students? It's nothing new; suicide is disproportionately high among LGBT teens. I just don't understand how not a one of the people working for you took two minutes to think that there are a lot of people hurting because of the deaths of those young people, and this cover is playing with imagery that invokes those same feelings. Of all the possible images you could have used, this just seems totally wrong. I am not exactly the alarmist type, and I was shocked.

Elizabeth Ankje Byl
via email


Values Upside Down

I for one am so tired of hearing the poor and middle class in this country scapegoated by the uber-wealthy, cutthroat, snakes in suits, corporate leeches who are destroying the country and planet due to their greed and lust for power. It is not the poor and middle class who control policy, media, politicians, transportation, resources, energy, the military and commerce. Through their stranglehold on all these resources, the super-rich and their puppets have managed to twist reality. The poor have little or no way to effect any real changes, while those who do mask their deeds in lies, misperceptions and smokescreens.

The wealthy religious fanatics who do the bidding for these snakes show unbridled hypocrisy. If they were true Christians, they would not rest until every child had enough to eat, until all people had access to health care, till every person had a decent place to live. Did not Jesus say, "As you do unto the least you do unto Me"? To throw off the shackles of the past, we must create a new paradigm and recognize the worth of every being, not just the wealthy and religiously intolerant.

While we're on the subject, why are all these snakes donating their money to the elephants?

Amanda Plaise


We are in a crucial time. Our technology has exceeded our understanding, our governing institutions do not display wisdom, our social mores lack common sense and thus we teeter on the edge.

We are told that love between different races or the same gender is immoral, but that war, bigotry and fear-mongering are okay. Caring for others is not Christian, not democratic. Making sure we all have our minimal needs taken care of is bad, while giving to those of great wealth is good. Building sustainable energy systems that are renewable and pose no danger to life is impractical and wrong. The dangerous, polluting and centralized systems that we know will destroy life, and will run out, are necessary. War is good; love is bad.

To those who think that that might be true but that Republicans are pro-life, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, pro-family and pro-whatever wedge issue is popular, I'd like to point out one thing: in all the years they were in power, they did nothing about these issues. They just used them to get elected, and still do. That is why we have arguments about building mosques in New York City when we could be having discussions about rebuilding our economy—a discussion they don't want to have because they are the party of No. No new ideas, no facts, no substance and no concern for the welfare of the common people of this country.

Jaffrey Harp

Comments (3)
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In the 1950's the government encouraged more people to go to college. We needed more scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, etc., etc. How could people afford to go to college. Making it possible for working people to go to college was part of Johson’s War on Poverty. The idea was that people would qualify for better jobs if they went to college.

The plan for expanded college attendance was to build more affordable state colleges, and to make loans available for people to pay for college. Since the job market was expanding, the student was assured that he would get a good job and pay off his loan. The overhead for colleges increased. They could afford it, the students would just borrow more money to pay them. When I went to college we had a few deans. Now there is a dean for just about everything.

Many foreigners also attended US colleges. The idea was that we would help improve other countries by educating them in the sciences, etc. Then they stopped performing services for their own countries. Why do you need a computer if you do not have electricity? So corporate American convinced everyone that education was worth the cost because it would enable people to get a better job. And then they sent those well paying jobs to India and China where they could get out of paying the high cost of training.

So now the student has been sold into serfdom.

Posted by Robert Underwood on 10.20.10 at 11:31

Born to a family of minimum wage mill workers; am astonished to think that any student could think that they should not pay back loans they willfully sought out and agreed to repay. Why would you expect for someone to be able to use money your grandmother has and not repay her? It was your choice to go to a high priced institution and use someone else's resources. Why should I be taxed into poverty. If you could not pay your loan they why where you allowed to purchase a home you could not afford while the people having to deal with your screwed up ideas have to live in dumpy apartments?

I know there are other circumstances we are not aware of; but, we know we will never get a true and honest account of what is really happening.

Posted by Paul on 10.20.10 at 13:09

Ms. Levy's letter is quite incredible. You choose to go to an expensive private college and now you expect to not pay back your loans? You should have chosen lower cost public institution where you would not now be saddled with $150k of debt. Word to anyone that takes out a loan - the people loaning you the money ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. They are loaning you the money to make a profit. DUH! I have about as much sympathy with Ms. Levy as I do with people that bought expensive mcmansions and now can't pay back the mortage. Woman - live within your means. Do not expect others to pay for your mistakes.

Posted by Mickey Nowak on 10.21.10 at 15:57



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