Come out, come out wherever you are!

By Chris Hicks, National Student Labor Action Project Coordinator

On Friday February 3rd, ten representatives of Student Labor Action Project and United States Student Association went to Sallie Mae’s office to give them a letter that had three simple demands: 1) Forgive student debt; 2) Pay your fair share of taxes; and 3) Keep your money out of our democracy. Once we arrived at their DC office, Sallie Mae made it clear they have no desire to talk with recent graduates who are struggling to make payments or current students taking out loans, as they refused to meet with us and had security call the police.

As we waited in the lobby we began a silent candlelight vigil for students and graduates suffering the weight of student debt, which is projected to reach over one trillion dollars this year. Sallie Mae currently holds over 154 billion dollars worth of that – nearly 5 times as much as the second largest lender, making them the largest lender profiting off of student debt. In a report published by Center for American Politics, they found the CEO of Sallie Mae, Albert Lord, “has reaped more than $225 million from the student loan business over the course of his career. In 2008, even as profits declined, Lord received $4.7 million in total compensation. He has used a portion of the proceeds to build himself a private golf course.”

“I’m in college, my mother’s in college, my sister will be in college in the fall, and we all have loans and will need them in the future. Sallie Mae is maliciously profiteering off the backs of those who wish to better the lives of themselves and their families,” said Sam Nelson, one of the SLAP students that went into Sallie Mae’s office building hoping to talk to anyone from the corporation about how impossible it was becoming for students to pay back their loans.

In 2008, Sallie Mae created the position of chief credit officer, and the move was made after student lenders were “blind-sided” by an increase in default rates, mostly among non-traditional students at trade schools, in a pattern similar to that in the subprime market for home loans, according to Richard Hofmann, an analyst with CreditSights Inc.

After waiting in the lobby for half an hour our group moved outside and mic checked the demands. Community members that were walking on the sidewalk stopped and joined our group, calling on Sallie Mae to do the right thing.

“If we do not solve the student debt crisis the students of today will suffer, but the students of tomorrow may never have the opportunity of a college education.  A generation of students will pay the hefty price of their student loans; but we must not forget that we will also pay the debt of an entire country ignoring the burden placed on those working to better their lives and communities by obtaining a college degree.”

On February 3rd, Sallie Mae refused to meet with a group of students and recent graduates. We’re not discouraged though, because we know that putting an end to student debt means doing more than just having this one meeting. This shows Sallie Mae’s true colors – and how little they actually care about us. That is why we need to come together and organize, and there are some easy steps on how you can get involved today. Sign the petition, organize events and actions on your campus during our National Week of Action February 27 – March 2nd in coordination with students around the country, and come to LegCon – where we will be making sure Sallie Mae hears our message together.

2 Responses to “Come out, come out wherever you are!”

  1. Ryan Clayton says:

    Proud to be there that day at Sallie Mae! Keep me updated on the rousing of the rabble. See ya soon.

  2. L. Cav says:

    Predatory lenders took advantage of needy students by charging them interest rates of 14% and higher. These loans have now ballooned, and doubled. There are NO conumer protections for borrowers of private student loans. These students were expoloited by preditory lenders.
    The current lending system (for private student loans) invites profiteering on behalf of the banks. Many students are defaulting on their private loans because the payments were too high- due to the fact that their loan doubled in size.
    The new class action law suit tells the whole story. Al Lord (CEO of Sallie Mae) relaxed underwriting requirements to give out private student loans at high interest rates- and defaulted and delinquent loans were pushed into forbearance to hide the delinquencies.

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