Many of you are animal lovers, and I was contacted by a store called CSN Stores to promote their pet products on my blog (they like my content and they are aware that I receive a lot of traffic). In posting a small advertisement for them, one of you will receive a $60 gift certificate to purchase pet products on their site or anything else for that matter. They sell all sorts of things, including beds.
On that note, I want all of you to be aware that this money will be stashed away with the donations that many of you have sent to me for my advocacy work. I appreciate your continued support, whether it's through small donations or volunteering. In fact, that latter means far more to me, because I'm happy to carry the burden of expenses with my own job as a teacher.
Frequent readers of Education Matters are aware that I prefer to post testimonials (here's the most recent one that I posted, but there are many more). In fact, I am currently working on a book that will include these stories. Moreover, my paper that I'll be submitting to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition for the upcoming June 13th convention includes testimonials. For those unaware, I was extended an invitation by the Rev. Jackson to be a panelist on a panel to discuss student loan reform. Robert Shireman will be on that panel.
However, I reside in Seoul, South Korea, so I will - unfortunately - be unable to attend in person. But the paper should suffice.
Your voices demonstrate the destructiveness of the student lending crisis, and provide us with very intimate and personal accounts of how this industry is ruining the lives of millions of people in the U.S. I already know of at least one marriage that has fallen apart as a result of one partner owing so much in student loans. Then there are the stories from desperate mothers who can't help their children. Of course, there are also those of you who are recent grads. Like the ones I've just mentioned above, you've told me that you can't make ends meet either, because you can't find a job. All of these stories illustrate that this crisis is an inter-generational problem.
It is important to share these stories publicly, and that's why I continually ask for your testimonials.
The latest tale is from someone who recently posted on my blog about AES's harassing tactics.
A.J.explains [in his own words]:
I came across your blog while searching for complaints against AES student loans. I graduated in 08, my 85-year-old grandmother co-signed the loan, and now I am wishing I had never done it.
My grandmother is retired, and gets social security checks... we sent in the paper work to show that neither one of us was working. After exceeding my FORBEARANCE time... I was finally told my only option was the graduate repayment. So payments will be $50 a month instead of $238. OK great... but in the meantime I paid them [$]70 that was all I could afford. Now my bill is $168 plus the [$]50 dollars for next month! That puts me back where I started.
Now the phone calls, and the letters . . . they called my granny and told her that, she needs to make a payment by the 4th. She told them she was retired, and the lady said, “Well mam, you signed the paperwork.” The last time I spoke with them, I recorded the convo [sic]. The girl basically said there was nothing I could do but pay. She put in my account, that I did not have a job, and my concerns with them calling my grandmother, and my concerns about her health. Then the girl tells me, well, you don’t have to worry about garnishing your grandmother’s checks until after 30days . . . Then she continued to tell me how they were going to harass me. So I say to her, “Look Rebecca . . . I’m going to have to pay AES for the rest of my life. Why can’t you drop the [$]168 and let me deal with the [$]50 . . . I mean hell . . . help me, so I can help you get your money."
I am so frustrated and stressed. Between them, and finding a job... I feel like I will never surface—I will continue sinking in this black abyss called the ‘American Dream.’ I don’t understand. I don’t want to answer their calls, because this will get me no where. I’m 28 and have extreme anxiety, and stress over this.
Please include my story and good luck!
Let's hope that for A.J. and his grandmother's sake, those who can actually help student loan debtors (i.e., the Department of Education, the White House, policy staffers on the Hill, etc., etc.) are listening to these stories and reconsidering the way in which lobbyists for the student lending industry spin this tale. For our voices tell a different, much darker story about the industry. The evidence continues to grow each day, all of which demonstrates that the lenders (overall) are nothing but a bunch of loan sharks whose dirty tactics have been legalized by the U.S. Government. So, it's time to stop for a moment and think about the ramifications of this crisis. Sadly, it's just one example out of many that demonstrate how the U.S. Government has become corporatized and thus lost its ability to truly listen to those who ought to be heard: U.S. citizens (look at the recent disaster in the Gulf).