Bridging the Opportunity Divide

Inside the Move That Saved 2,761 Students From Millions of Dollars of School Debt

September 29, 2014
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Inside the Move That Saved 2,761 Students From Millions of Dollars of School Debt
Sion Touhig/Getty Images
While extremely generous, the social do-gooders' act only helps a tiny percentage of those affected by this burgeoning crisis.

Three years after the 99-percenters first rallied to close the mammoth gap between the insanely rich 1-percenters and everyone else, the Occupy Wall Street is still continuing its valiant fight.

According to NPR, Strike Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, has announced that they purchased and erased $3,856,866.11 worth of private loans held by 2,761 individuals who went to Ev­erest College (a nationwide chain of for-profit schools that are shutting down left and right).

Here’s how the activists pulled it off: In the case of private loans (versus federally backed ones) when a student can’t pay back his or her debt, the original lender can sell it off to a third-party debt collector at a significant discount. Everest’s loan portfolio was potentially worth millions, and more unscrupulous organizations could have taken advantage of that. Instead, Strike Debt unleashed project Rolling Jubilee.

As the Guardian explains, “Rolling Jubilee bought the $3.8 [million] worth of student loans for a total of $106,709.48 in cash. That’s about 3¢ for $1 of student debt.”

MORE: Ask the Experts: How Can We Keep From Drowning in College Debt?

While $4 million is only a drop in the massive $1.2 million student loan bucket, Strike Debt’s move is not only much-needed relief for the nearly 3,000 Everest students that were completely overwhelmed by their debt, it’s an infuriating example of why the student loan industry needs major reform.

Ev­erest is one of the three schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc., which is facing 200 lawsuits and has been accused of a slew of unsavory practices by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, including predatory lending, blocking access to educational resources and withholding diplomas.

Awareness of the predatory nature of loans is key. Most 17-year-olds probably have no idea what they’re signing away when they enroll in college.

Strike Debt has now renamed Rolling Jubilee and turned it into a new project, The Debt Collective, which attempts to empower students to “renegotiate, resist, and refuse unfair debts while advocating for real solutions in­cluding free education and universal health care,” says Thomas Gokey, a Debt Collective organizer.

This is not the first time Strike Debt has relieved individuals of massive financial burdens. The social do-gooders have also claimed to wipe out a staggering $15,000,000 in personal medical debt over the past two years.

DON’T MISS: The Average College Graduate Has a Whopping $30,000 in Debt. How One Startup Is Helping Them Pay It Back

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