You Are Not A Loan: It's Time to Bring Student Debt Down to Zero

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You Are Not A Loan: It's Time to Bring Student Debt Down to Zero

The entire structure of financing higher education is broken. Superficial reform in Washington means nothing until we make tuition ... free

Germany just made tuition free at all public universities. That’s the kind of big picture change we need in the US. (Photo: otto-yamamoto / flickr via Creative Commons)

The American higher education system is broken: between predatory student lenders, rapacious for-profit colleges, skyrocketing tuition rates and the number of people taking on a lifetime’s worth of debt before they can legally drink, the current system is not sustainable. Instead of providing a ladder to a better life, higher education too often reinforces class- and race-based disparities. And our government is not doing anything to provide relief to students even in the most egregious cases. What we really need is a revolution.

Individually, debt can be overwhelming and isolating. Together, given the fact Americans collectively owe over $1.2tn in student loans, we may be able to overwhelm and transform the system. It’s time to believe in power in numbers: You are not a loan.

I’m part of the Debt Collective, a new group associated with the Rolling Jubilee, the debt-buying and -abolishing campaign that emerged out of Occupy Wall Street. Our campaign has brought us in contact with thousands of students who are distressed and outraged by what is happening not just at for-profit lending factories like Corinthian Colleges Inc, but inside the faulty, overpriced American education system more broadly. To date, our small, scrappy, all-volunteer initiative has provided more direct relief to current and former Corinthian students than state and federal agencies combined. But our work on behalf of every US college student – and would-be college student – is just beginning.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Astra Taylor

Astra Taylor is a writer, documentary filmmaker (including Zizek! and Examined Life), and activist. Her new book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age (Metropolitan Books), has just been published. She also helped launch the Occupy offshoot Strike Debt and its Rolling Jubilee campaign.

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