USSA believes that Education is a Right, we want to live in a world where young people are not forced to choose what school they go to and what career path they want to pursue based on how much debt they will accrue. In December of 2012 student debt hit one trillion dollars. That is more than credit card debt!
The Growing Gap: Student Aid and Tuition
Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive, and was an guaranteed ticket for social mobility and a higher standard of living.
Today, that has all changed. In this economic downturn, more people find themselves unemployed and needing to go back to school to get retrained in new skills in order to compete in a 21st century workforce. As more people are entering higher education programs and are qualifying for more financial aid, this has put a strain on an already under-serving financial aid system and has yielded limited funding for student aid.
The decline in support for higher education is felt both on the federal and state level. States have addressed, and will continue to address, massive budget shortfalls by cutting from vital public services, including education. Here are some facts about the state budget crises:
Insurmountable Level of Student Debt
Each year, students have to fight tooth-and-nail on both the state and federal levels to ensure that government invests in funding and supporting higher education.
Elected officials often make promises of investing in education on the campaign trail, but remain silent when it comes to education budgets getting slashed, while tuition continues to skyrocket, further decreasing the portion of college cost covered by financial aid.
Since the 1980’s, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 500 percent. The Project on Student Debt found that the average college senior in 2010 graduated with over $25,000 in outstanding loans. All of this has resulted in student debt edging closer and closer to $1 trillion.
The increasing gap between skyrocketing tuition prices and the amount of aid that is left after budget cuts has resulted in our generation becoming the most indebted generation in HISTORY, all without the security of a job after graduation to help us pay back our student loan.
At a time when the path to personal fulfillment, socio-economic justice for our communities, and a thriving civic society is increasingly tied to higher education. We must, ask, “Where’s the funding”? to ensure the path is clear of all unnecessary barriers.
USSA and SLAP’s “Student Debt” campaign connects the fight against state and federal budget cuts with rising tuition/fees. Our campaign paints a bigger picture about government disinvestment from public higher education, privatizing the costs of higher education, and tying the outrageous burden of student loan debt. This is intended to be a long-term, multi-year campaign with the ultimate goal of passing federal legislation that will forgive student debt after 5 years of monthly on-time payments, with payment based on your income. Meanwhile, the “Student Debt” campaign also addresses more immediate solutions to issues that we are facing.
Our legislative agenda
—as prioritized by the membership and board– is aimed at:
HR 1330- The Student Loan Fairness Act of 2013
USSA and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network joined together to support student leaders in reporting a policy paper that suggested the best solutions for the student loan debt issue. You can find the full report by clicking on the picture below.
At the 44th Annual National Grassroots Legislative Conference, over 300 students joined together at the capitol for a National Student Lobby Day. Student Leaders went to the hill to demand long terms fixes for affordable interest rates, advocacing for increase funding for the Pell Grants and TRIO programs. With great training and electoral power, we were able to come out on top with a permanent solution.
On March 21st, 2013 Representative Karen Bass introduced the Student Loan Fairness Act of 2013. This legislation includes a lot of provision from the policy paper that our student leaders wrote.
Corporate Demands to Sallie Mae
1) Tackle the issues of predatory lending by large corporate banks.
2) Seeks to create legislation that will work to protect students.
This Long term multi- year campaign with the ultimate goal of proposal federal legislation that will forgive student debt after 5 year with 60 on time payments based on income.
The Corporate portion of the campaign deals with private student loan debt. Recognizing that private lenders are not protected like their counterparts who have federally backed student loans. Borrows are being taken advantage of. In the corporate campaign the goals for the campaigns are to:
1) Forgive Student Debt. The average student Graduates with $25,000 dollars in student loan debt at the same time when one in two college graduates are jobless or underemployed and Sallie Mae has the Power to forgive their loans. We need to invest in our future, not punish those better their communities.
2) Stop trying to by my democracy. Since the 2000 Presidential election, Sallie Mae’s PAC has used millions of dollars in campaign contributions and in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone spent $500,000 in lobbying Congress. It takes time to get corporate money our of our democracy!
3) Pay their fair share in taxes. The bottom line is that we give and they take. Sallie Mae is like too many of our nations biggest corporations who pay too little in taxes and its time we hold them accountable.
Default the Student Loan Documentary
Post-Secondary education is essential to the future of our nation as a whole, and to individual Americans who hope to enter or remain in the middle class. As student aid, family income, and state investments in higher education have failed to keep pace with skyrocketing tuition, students and their families have increasingly turned to student loans to help bridge the gap. The result is evident in the disturbing high level of student debt: THIS IS THE MOST INDEBTED GENERATION EVER!