Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal Unsettling for Student Loan Borrowers

April 07, 2014 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, 2016 Election, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Student loan crisis

From Heather Jarvis:

On the one hand, the administration proposes to extend PAYE to all student borrowers starting in 2015, regardless of when they borrowed. That would be nice.

But the administration proposes sharply reducing the loan forgiveness available to high-debt student loan borrowers (except they refer to these cuts as “reform[ing] the PAYE terms to ensure that program benefits are targeted to the neediest borrowers.” The proposed “reforms” are a response to criticism arguing that existing forgiveness provisions permit already expensive schools to continue raising tuition with impunity.

Proposed changes include:

  • Eliminating the standard payment cap under PAYE;
  • Calculating payments for married borrowers filing separately on the combined household Adjusted Gross Income;
  • Capping Public Sector Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) at the aggregate loan limit for independent undergraduate students (currently $57,500);
  • Establishing a 25-year forgiveness period for borrowers with balances above the aggregate loan limit for independent undergraduate students;
  • Preventing payments made under non-income driven repayment plans from being applied toward PSLF;
  • and

  • Capping the amount of interest that can accrue when a borrower’s monthly payment is insufficient to cover the interest.

Find out more here.

Will proposed cuts to PSLF affect current borrowers?

CFPB Launches New Toolkit to Educate Borrowers on Public Service Loan Forgiveness Options

September 09, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Education, Intersectionality, Poverty

From Student Loan Expert Heather Jarvis:

The CFPB launched a new toolkit last week to empower school districts and other public service organizations to help their employees pay off student loan debt.

According to a report released last week, the CFPB estimates that more than 25 percent of the U.S. labor force is in public service.

  • To learn more about the CFPB’s new toolkit for employers, click here.
  • To review Heather’s Employer’s Guide to PSLF, click here.

College is the New High School, Ripping Off Young America

September 03, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Intersectionality, Poverty

Even as a post-secondary degree becomes a must-have, the cost is enough to create almost lifelong debt. (Flickr)

From In These Times:

Whether or not President Obama’s recent education-themed speeches are in direct response to Matt Taibbi’s must-read Rolling Stone magazine article on the college loan crisis, it is great news that the White House is now taking the crisis more seriously. The credit bubble in college loans has ballooned into a systemic threat to the nation’s economy. Additionally, as Taibbi documents, economic and political trends are now forcing an entire generation into a truly no-win situation: Either don’t get a post-secondary education and harm your job prospects, or get a post-secondary education and condemn yourself to a lifetime of debt.

The economic trend fueling this perfect storm is about job credentials. Peruse employment data and you’ll see that the New York Times was right when it declared that “the college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job.” Though the Times notes that the weak economy means the job outlook for college grads “is rather bleak,” it is even more bleak if you don’t have a post-secondary degree.

So, yes, some form of higher education is now increasingly as necessary as a high school diploma. Yet, in our financing models, America still isn’t treating it as such. Just consider the critical difference between how high school and college education programs are funded.

The former is funded by broad-based taxes and few would ever suggest changing it to an individual tuition system. Why? Because we’ve come to view access to high school as a right. This view is based not just on notions of morality but also on an economic calculation. Basically, we know we need a workforce with as many high school graduates as possible, and we’ve decided that forcing young people to go into crushing debt to get a high school degree would deter many from getting the degree.

Yet, even though we know that higher education is also an economic necessity, we do not have the same funding model or outlook for college. Instead, we still predicate access to higher education on a student’s wealth and/or their willingness to go into crushing debt.

Obama Vows to Shame Colleges Into Keeping Costs Down

August 22, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Education, Poverty

From NYT:

Deploring the rising costs of a college education, President Obama vowed on Thursday to try to shame universities into holding their prices down and to eventually use federal student aid as leverage in that effort.

Speaking at the University at Buffalo, where tuition and fees now total about $8,000 per year for New York residents, Mr. Obama said the middle class and those struggling to rise out of persistent financial struggles were being unfairly priced out of the higher education market.

“Colleges are not going to just be able to keep on increasing tuition year after year and passing it on to students,” Mr. Obama told an enthusiastic audience of about 7,200 students and others in the university’s auditorium. “We can’t price the middle class and everybody working to get into the middle class out of college.”

The president said rising prices at colleges were partly driven by the distribution of $150 billion in federal assistance to students. He said that colleges that allowed tuition to soar should be penalized by getting less aid for their students, while colleges that held down costs should get more of the money.

He announced plans to create a federal rating system that would allow parents and students to easily compare colleges. And he said he would urge Congress to pass legislation to link the student aid to the rating system.

“It is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results,” Mr. Obama said to a roar of applause from the students in the audience.

The president offered his college affordability proposals at the beginning of a two-day bus tour through upstate New York and Pennsylvania. It is part of a campaign to highlight proposals that his administration says will help the middle class economically.

The Government Bans Doctors Who Can’t Repay Their Student Loans From Treating Medicare Patients

May 21, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Poverty

From ThinkProgress:

According to a Modern Healthcare analysis of federal records, more than 5,400 of the 51,729 people on the government health entitlement blacklist were placed on it after failing to pay an HHS-backed medical student loan. Given a still-shaky economy, some in the health care sector expect that trend to continue.

The increasing frequency of default-related blacklisting could prove problematic as the Obama Administration tries to entice more medical students to become primary care and family doctors. Primary care providers and nurse practitioners will be crucial to effective Obamacare implementation, since the health law is expected to drive up demand for medical services as millions of previously uninsured Americans gain coverage.

But the ballooning cost of a medical education could end up being a major barrier to the Administration’s recruitment efforts. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) 2012 report on medical school debt, “86 percent of medical school graduates had education debt, with a median amount of $162,000″ in 2011 — a number that has been rising steadily over the years.

AAMC estimates that a borrower with the median $162,000 debt “would have monthly payments ranging from $1,500 to $2,100 after residency.”

That disproportionately affects the very primary care doctors that are integral to health care reform and the U.S. medical system at large. In a 2012 report, consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates found that family practitioners, pediatricians, and psychiatrists are the lowest-paid physician groups in the U.S. with a base pay of $189,000.

While that’s still a lavish salary compared to average U.S. compensation, it pales in comparison to specialist pay — and as the entitlement blacklist numbers underscore, that contributes to a system in which care providers are banned from treating certain patients for purely financial, rather than medical or criminal, reasons.

Here’s Your Crisis: Student Loan Debt Isn’t A Myth [Infographic]

March 08, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Intersectionality, Poverty, Workers' Rights

From CampusProgress:

The student loan crisis is a myth.

So say Nicole Allan and Derek Thompson, who argue in this month’s issue of The Atlantic that the economic returns of college far outweigh the burden of student loan debt.

“Horror stories of students drowning in $100,000+ in debt might discourage young people from enrolling in college, but they are as rare as they are terrifying,” Allan and Thompson wrote in the article. “The economic value of college, meanwhile, is indisputable.”

Allan and Thompson looked for crisis in the wrong places. Six-figure calamities are indeed rare, but millions of Americans are caught between stubbornly weak labor markets and increasingly costly higher education.

CFPB report: Assessing Damage of Private Student Loans

July 24, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Education

From Inside Higher Ed:

In a sweeping study of the private student lending market released today, a new federal consumer protection agency compares private loans to subprime mortgages and urges Congress to consider letting borrowers discharge such loans in bankruptcy.
The study, months in the making, touched a nerve as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began gathering information about private loans and concern grew about student debt. Almost 2,000 people — borrowers and their family members, as well as representatives of banks, research groups and higher education organizations — wrote in to describe their experiences with student loans and to urge the bureau to act.

The result was a report examining the varied private student loan market, which makes up less than 15 percent of all outstanding student debt but is often criticized because its loans offer fewer protections than their federal counterparts. The consumer protection bureau found that loans made just before the financial crisis were among the riskiest, made to students with low credit scores and often without co-signers or involvement from their colleges’ financial aid offices. A majority of those students had not exhausted their federal borrowing options beforehand.

“Our findings reveal that students were yet another group of consumers that were hurt by the boom and bust of the financial crisis,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, said in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. “Too many student loan borrowers were given loans they could not afford and sometimes for more money than they needed. They are now overwhelmed by debt and regret the decisions they made.”

Between 2005 and 2008, private student lending boomed, increasing from about $7 billion to over $20 billion in 2008. At its peak, private lenders made loans to students with low credit scores and no co-signers, often allowing borrowers to take out loans that far exceeded the cost of attendance at their colleges.

4-30-2012 Link Roundup

April 30, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Economic Terrorism, Immigration, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege, Workers' Rights

Happy Monday, folks. I’ve been off the grid for a few days for a desperately needed re-charging. The news all around is dire these days and information overload can be a bit much. A piece will be forthcoming on how acts of kindness to one’s self can be revolutionary and necessary for change.

Anyway, without further ado:

  • Report Finds Google Supervisors Knew About Wi-Fi Data Harvesting

    Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.

    The report, prepared by the Federal Communications Commission after a 17-month investigation of Google’s Street View project, was released, heavily redacted, two weeks ago. Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000.

    On Saturday, Google released a version of the report with only employees’ names redacted.

    The full version draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal e-mails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off.

    The so-called payload data was secretly collected between 2007 and 2010 as part of Street View, a project to photograph streetscapes over much of the civilized world. When the program was being designed, the report says, it included the following “to do” item: “Discuss privacy considerations with Product Counsel.”

  • Not Just Apple, How Microsoft Sidestepped Billions In State Taxes

    In 1997, Microsoft et al. lobbied to reduce Washington State’s Royalty Tax from 1.5% to .5%, a threefold reduction. This wasn’t low enough. The company decided to open a small Reno, Nevada office to dodge the tax completely.

    Between 1997 – 2011, the company used its Nevada office to avoid $1.51 billion in Washington state taxes, interest and penalties. If you include impacts from the company’s lobbying and calculate its savings at the original 1.5% rate, it’s saved $4.37 billion.

    Since 2008, Washington State has cut $4 billion from K-12 and Higher Education. We rank 31st in K-12 spending. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. We rank 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size.

  • Understanding Hipster Racism: Lester Bangs’ 1979 “White Noise Supremacists”

    Lindy West’s piece at Jezebel this week, “A Complete Guide To Hipster Racism,” has been blowing up my Facebook wall (and probably yours too) for good reason. As justice-minded folks have critiqued HBO’s ‘Girls’ for its lily-white representation of New York City, the pushback to the pushback has gotten ugly fast — whether it’s show story editor Lesley Arfin making jokes about Precious, or Vice founder (and old-school hipster racist) Gavin McInnes knowingly throwing the word ‘lynching’ around. At the core of every statement defending the whiteness of ‘Girls,’ and the ‘ironically’ racist jokes that accompany it, is the argument that only bad people are susceptible to racism, so therefore it’s okay for us good people to pretend to be racist, for comedy’s sake. Anyone who doesn’t like it is the real racist. There’s a bunch wrong with this argument, both in terms of logic and basic decency, and West does an excellent job of debunking it piece by piece.

  • Public Perception and the Law in Arizona v. United States

    Some observers claimed that SB 1070 would increase racial profiling of Latinos. The key question was how police would decide whether there was, as Section 2(B) provides, a “reasonable suspicion … that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States.” The fear is that “foreign-looking” people, especially Latinos, will bear the brunt of the mandatory immigration checks. Concerns with racial profiling contributed to the considerable public attention received by SB 1070 and Arizona v. United States.

    As discussed above, the oral arguments focused on federal preemption law, not racial profiling. Counsel for the US government emphatically denied that racial profiling was at issue in the case. Counsel for the state of Arizona, as well as the justices, eagerly accepted that denial. The justices therefore did not ask questions about whether Section 2(B) of SB 1070 might result in the racial profiling of Latinos.

    Unlike some of the other plaintiffs in related cases challenging the Arizona law, the US government had not made any claims that SB 1070 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it was adopted with some kind of invidious discriminatory intent. Claims of discrimination will likely have to wait another day, with the issues possibly addressed in the other cases challenging SB 1070 or in a new challenge based on the application of Section 2(B) by police.

    It should be readily apparent that there is a serious disconnect between the public debate over Arizona’s SB 1070, as well as similar state immigration enforcement laws, and the legal arguments in the Court.

  • ALJ’s Errors Win Lawyer a New Hearing on Student Loan Repayment

    A lawyer has won her bid for a new student loan repayment hearing after a state judge determined that her initial proceeding was rife with errors made by an administrative law judge.

    Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger (See Profile) found that the ALJ appeared to lose control of the 2009 hearing and made the “shocking” pronouncement that the attorney, Marisa Rieue, owed $108,376, including principal and interest, in unpaid loans in the absence of concrete evidence to support that conclusion.

    “A review of the hearing transcript reveals that it would be a waste of judicial resources and improper to transfer this case to the Appellate Division based on substantial evidence because the record is barely comprehensible and defective in countless ways,” Schlesinger wrote in Rieue v. New York State Higher Educ. Servs. Corp., 107745/09.

    She added, “While the rules of evidence are not strictly applied in administrative proceedings, the hearing must be conducted in an orderly fashion so that it is fundamentally fair, and all exhibits offered into evidence must be appropriately authenticated and explained by a proper party, with evidentiary foundations established where appropriate.”

    Rieue, who once worked in the litigation bureau of the state Department of Law, has an unpublished phone number and could not be reached for comment.