And the topic we all love to debate/sob over: student debt.

As student debt reaches one trillion dollars this month, less than two years after education debt surpassed all over forms of debt for the first time in U.S. history, I ask, in a two-part series for Guernica magazine, how did we get here, and is there anything to be done?

  • Part I discusses my personal experience with student debt and emphasizes the magnitude of the problem, particularly since Sallie Mae has become a powerful institution that has helped take away bankruptcy protection on student lending.
  • Part II looks at the economic philosophy surrounding student lending, mainly the Reaganite idea that education is an individual, not social good, and asks what solutions we might look toward–and what shifts society would do well to make, ideologically–as the problem reaches new heights.

Thanks for reading. As always, your comments are welcome on the Guernica website!

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Release America From Its Occupation By Student Debt

One of the issues most prominent on the 99 Percent tumblr blog is the burden of student debt. Unlike other forms of debt, student loan debt will never disappear; it is carried by the debt-holder until he dies and even then can be passed on to a spouse or next-of-kin. And student debt is also a massive industry that brings in significant revenue for banks, collecting agencies (often owned by those very same banks), and the U.S. federal government.

A student debt refusal Working Group has been in the works at Occupy Wall Street for a few weeks now. It is headed by Andrew Ross, a professor of labor studies at New York University who has published several books on free trade economics and precarious labor in a neoliberal world. The idea is to institute a nation-wide debt strike, create awareness about the issue, and fight for a tuition-free (or at least, cheaper) public tertiary education system. Most European nations charge minor fees for tertiary education. This year CUNY, New York City’s public university, is getting ready to raise its annual tuition by about $300 every semester for five consecutive years. In 2009, the University of California Board of Regents raised that system’s tuition by thirty-three percent (against much student protest). Read more