John Gear is an attorney in Salem, Oregon. I’ve met him, he’s a good guy. Back in 2011, he quoted a letter I’d written to the newspaper about student loans. Here is his blog entry, referencing my letter. I think he does an excellent job in expressing why the current laws need to be changed.
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There is not a week that goes by that I don’t see people who found out that, when they weren’t even old enough to buy a beer, they signed up for a lifetime of outrageous above-market interest rates and backbreaking fees, all courtesy of the student loan-sharks who are not taking any risk on student loans, since the government guarantee eliminates the risk! This is the kind of legalized piracy that threatens our nation’s future — oppressing people following the conventional wisdom (“Get an education”) is like pouring gasoline all over the barn floor and lighting matches randomly. Every year the debt tsunami floods out more and more young– and now middle aged people — who have been carrying these absurd loans for years and still wind up facing bigger balances than ever. This is highly toxic stuff for a democracy.
I spoke at the recent town hall meeting with Rep. Kurt Schrader about how consumer protections need to be restored to student loans.
If you get in over your head with credit cards, you can get a fresh start with bankruptcy. If you can’t afford your home, you can give it back to the bank. Student loans are the only loan that it is impossible to get out from under when you can’t afford to pay them.
Lenders can garnish wages, pensions or disability payments. You can be forced to pay no matter how low your income or whether you are old or disabled.
After I spoke at the meeting, two member of the audience turned around in their chairs and thanked me for my comments. Another asked to read my notes.
These laws really need to be changed. There is no protection for consumers who could not find better jobs and afford to pay off their debt. — Jessica Hopkins, Salem
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