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Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay – A Student Debt Strike is Born

Fifteen brave students at the for-profit Corinthian College announced this week that they will refuse to pay their federal student loans, launching an unprecedented U.S. student debt strike.

The students hail from Corinthian Colleges Inc., a chain of for-profit schools that has been plagued by allegations of fraud and predatory lending. Corinthian faces hundreds of individual lawsuits, including one by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which accused Corinthian of juicing job placement numbers and conning students into predatory loans. And everyone from the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), to a group of Senators led by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have called on the Department of Education to forgive Corinthian debt.

But rather than wait for the Department of Education to heed these calls, these students have taken matters into their own hands, and called the debt strike.

Latonya Suggs, on of the Corinthian Strikers, from Cincinnati, OH
Latonya Suggs, on of the Corinthian Strikers, from Cincinnati, OH

One of the student strikers, the 28-year old Latonya Suggs from Cincinnati, Ohio, spoke to Newsweek about her situation at Everest College (one of Corinthian’s schools), and why she’s joining the strike:

Suggs is $63,000 in debt after completing a two-year program in criminal justice at Everest. After she graduated, she learned she wasn’t qualified to be a probation officer in Ohio, where she lives, even though that was the job she thought she was training for. She now works as a security guard for $9 an hour, and barely scrapes by. “I hate my job. I didn’t want a job. I wanted a career,” she says.

“We go into debt trying to better ourselves,” she says. “I don’t want other students to have to go through this.”

The strike had some organizing help from the Debt Collective, a new project of the Occupy-offshoot group Strike Debt. The Debt Collective seeks to help debtors to organize in order “to challenge creditors” and “create a more just society.”

Inspired by the student strike? The group has several ways to plug in:

  • Donate to the Strike Fund to support the strikers “as they organize public events, plan actions, and build a national movement.”
  • Corinthian College students can join the Corinthian Collective (with 872 members as of Feb 24th) that outlines two ways other than striking that students can challenge their debt.
  • Borrowers with Sallie Mae or Navient loans can join the Sallie Mae / Navient Collective (with 509 members and counting), to help create a union of Sallie Mae debtors to create leverage to compel lower interest rates and reduced loan principals. Sign up for the Debt Collective, and note that you have Sallie Mae/Navient loans.
  • Participate in the online community forum to meet, discuss, and strategize ways to challenge student debt.

Learn more @ the Debt Collective

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