Sunday, August 30, 2009

In response to readers' requests: who ought I contact to demand for REAL change?

Many of you have asked me whom to write about the student lending crisis.

Here's a list of the people I've reached out to already. Also, I will continue to add to this list. When I do, I'll let everyone know that I've added new names with their contact information, and any relevant links to their role in this movement.


Politicians (city, state, national)

- Jim Sano, Albany City Councilman (

- Delegate David Poisson, 32nd-District, Loudon County, VA ( )
I've corresponded with David Poisson, and he's very sympathetic to this movement, and thanked me for keeping him abreast on things 

- Congressman George Miller, 7th District of California, Chairman, Committee of Labor and Education  

FYI: this guy is a BIG target! His email is a form here . So, I recommend that you also send him (and everyone else) actual letters too (that information can be found on all of their websites)

- Congressman Mike Doyle, 14th District of Pennsylvania. His email is a form version too.

Doyle is on the House subcommittee for oversight and investigations. I wrote to him about Ms. Marjorie Dillon's situation. Given the questions I raised in that letter, which I'll post later, I think it might pique that subcommittee's interest.

-Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Assistant Majority Leader . Again, fill out the form here.

- Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education . I've had a hard time finding an actual way to contact him.

Here's there page for "General Inquiries." I sent Secretary Duncan a letter by mail, and initially received a generic and dismissive letter back. I replied to that by letter, and then got an email from someone!

NOTE: Sec. Duncan has the power to change things. Don't be deterred if someone at the DOE says otherwise. In my view, Duncan needs to clean up that agency.

-President Barack Obama (!), The White House . Since I'm old-fashioned and basically send all of these people actual letters, I almost never send President Obama an email. I prefer his address:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone Numbers
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461


President Lauren Asher, The Institute for College Access and Success - their general email is Pay attention to these articles - you'll notice that Asher is quoted in many of them. We would like to appeal to this organization for help.

Tips for those who are thinking about taking legal action . . .

Many of you have written to me and Rob about taking legal action. There is good reason for that. However, lawyers can be costly, so before taking that step, here's what I recommend:

Seek help from your Congressman, from your state's Attorney General, from the U.S. Dept. of Education, or from others who have responsibility to consumers (Congressman Mike Doyle, for instance, who is on the House subcommittee for oversights and investigations and listed above). I'd try these things first, before going to a lawyer. Most lawyers likely do not know how the financial aid system works or the vulnerabilities of schools and Sallie Mae.

If those avenues don't work, then hiring an attorney might be worth exploring.

My advice on how to write letters of appeal

Please remember to be professional in your tone. That doesn't mean you can't raise questions or critique things, but do it with grace. In so doing, you will hopefully appeal to these people and persuade them to respond. Remember, many of the individuals I've listed above are sympathetic to our cause. So courtesy is something I always abide by in my letter writing. But you will ultimately decide how your own letters will sound. I'm just sharing my two cents.

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