Support H.R.4170 - The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012
  • Petitioned Rep. Lynn Woolsey

This petition was delivered to:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey

Support H.R.4170 - The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012

    1. Petition by

      Aging With Student Debt

We, the undersigned, fervently urge you to support H.R.4170: The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, introduced on March 8, 2012 by Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI). And more than support, we encourage you to co-sponsor this important, life-changing bill.

H.R.4170 is a fair repayment plan. This 10-10 plan proposes 10 years of repayment at 10% of the borrower’s discretionary income (discretionary income is defined as 150% of poverty level). At the end of repayment, any remaining balance is forgiven and is not considered taxable income.

For younger borrowers this will afford them the opportunity to better plan for their futures, knowing there is an end in sight, they can manage their student loan payments rather than be enslaved by them.

For older borrowers it means they have the hope of actually repaying their loans before retirement age and not fear garnishments to monthly Social Security checks; for many in this economy SS may be their sole source of income at retirement.

While the word “forgiveness’’ in the title of this bill describes a legal action, the moral implication of the word is inaccurate. Student loan borrowers have done nothing requiring forgiveness. We have fulfilled our side of the social contract and, in return, have become enslaved to a lifetime of debt.

FACT: Since 1980, average tuition for a 4-year college education has increased 827%

FACT: Since 1999, average student loan debt has increased by 511%

FACT: In 2010, total outstanding student loan debt exceeded total outstanding credit card debt in America for the first time ever

FACT: Total outstanding student loan debt now exceeds $1 Trillion

FACT: This debt impacts the lives of individuals of ALL ages. In March 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of NY released student loan balances by borrowers age:
• Under 30   33.9%   $295 billion
• 30 to 39    32.8%    $285 billion 

• 40 to 49     16.4%   $142 billion 

• 50 to 59     11.3%     $98 billion 

• 60 & over    4.2%      $36 billion 

• Unknown    1.4%      $12 billion

FACT: Consumer protections have been stripped away. Unlike other unsecured consumer loans there is no statute of limitations, these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, nor can they be refinanced. With credit card debt, account holders in good standing often enjoy reduced interest rates—not true of student loans. These debts follower borrowers to their graves.

FACT: Also unlike other unsecured consumer loans, the interest on student loans is capitalized--this practice is exempt from State usury laws. It is these industry practices that make managing payments unreasonable and impossible.

More facts here:

In short, student loan debt has become the latest financial crisis in America and, if we do absolutely nothing, the entire economy will eventually come crashing down again, as it did when the housing bubble popped. Reasonable minds can disagree as to the solutions but they cannot disagree on the existence of this ever-growing crisis, as well as the unsustainable course we're on toward financial oblivion.

As a result of more than 30 years of treating higher education as an individual commodity, rather than a public good and an investment in our collective future, we find:
• Those buried under the weight of their student loan debt are not buying homes or cars
• They are not starting businesses or families 

• They're not investing, inventing, innovating or otherwise engaged in any of the economically stimulative activities that we need all Americans to be engaged in. 

If we're ever to dig ourselves out of the giant hole created by the greed of those at the very top, this must be remedied!

This bill, and the wrongs it proposes to right, is not a political bargaining chip. 
It is not a right vs. left, nor a party issue—it is a human issue!

Please, show us that you are more concerned about the citizens who elected you, and that you swore to represent by upholding the constitution, than you are about enabling those responsible for increasing profits for a corrupt system that continues to oppress millions of student loan borrowers.

We respectfully request that you do the right thing and support H.R.4170

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 25 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Monroe Monroe DANVILLE, CA
      • almost 2 years ago

      I only have Social Security !

    • Elizabeth McKinley THORNTON, CO
      • about 2 years ago

      Enclosed is documentation regarding my monthly income and expenses. This includes photocopies of recent paystubs as well as recent bills. I am single and live alone. My only income is from my job.

      My monthly take-home pay is exactly $2,349.21. My monthly gross income is $3,352.00. All of the deductions from my gross income are listed on my paystubs; my monthly pension contribution is a mandatory county policy and therefore not subject to discretionary changes or reductions. I had a wage garnishment in 2011 that ended in August 2011.

      My monthly expenses are as follows:

      Rent $785.00

      Water/trash 25.00 (this is an average)

      Car payment 268.78

      Car insurance 165.00

      Renter’s insur. 15.00

      Life insurance 31.00

      Phone/internet 96.00

      Gas/electric 94.00

      Cable 100.00*

      Credit union 175.00**

      RX copays 79.17***

      TOTAL $1833.95

      My monthly income minus monthly expenses = $515.26

      This means I have $515.26 for groceries, gas, car maintenance, clothing, etc., after all of my recurring bills are paid.

      *My monthly cable bill is the one “luxury” I afford myself each month; it does not include premium channels such as HBO, etc.

      **This is how much I pay my parents each month for a loan they took out to help me cover expenses while my wages were being garnished. I pay my parents directly. They have the loan paperwork and I can provide a copy of those documents as needed. This loan will be paid in full September 2014.

      ***I am on six different prescription medications and take each of these medications daily:

      I take hydrochlorothiazide and lisonopril for hypertension, and venlafaxine, lamitrogene, mirtazapine and clonazepam for bipolar disorder. All of my medications are generic.

      Hydrochlorothiazide $4.04/month

      Lisonopril $11.30/month

      Venlafaxine $20.00/month

      Lamitrogene $18.20/month

      Mirtazapine $18.23/month

      Clonazepam $7.40/month

      I think you can agree with me that my budget is very tight. I haven’t received a raise in four years, although my employer did give employees a 1% cost of living pay increase in January 2012. In March of this year, we also received one time lump sum “bonuses” of 2% of our gross pay, which turned out to be about $500.00 for me after taxes. That money was used to pay off part of the credit union loan my parents took out for me, as well as some much-needed car repairs.

      I've scoured countless news articles, US Department of Education web pages and Mohela web pages for information about repayment, forgiveness, forbearance and deferment options and am too confused to know what to do next.

      I don't think my income to debt ratio should be based on my gross income. My gross income is approximately $1,000.00 more than my take home pay. Of all those deductions, the only ones that could be eliminated are my health insurance premiums, but I am not going to discontinue my health insurance. I have a couple of chronic health problems and wouldn't be able to afford medical care if I didn't have health insurance.

      My entire career has been spent in non-profit human services or government human services. I have ALWAYS worked with at-risk children and families. From January 1990 to June 1999 I worked for two different Planned Parenthood affiliates that served low income women and adolescents. From September 1999 to February 2000 I worked at an adolescent residential treatment center. From February 2000 to July 2001 I worked at two homeless shelters, one for women and children who were victims of domestic violence and the other for homeless women without children. From December 2001 to the present I've worked for Adams County, Colorado as a child welfare social worker. I have ALWAYS worked with at-risk children and adults.

      There are numerous loan forgiveness programs, but apparently I don't qualify for any of them. The reasons are arbitrary and generally based on technicalities (i.e., application date of the loan).

      I honestly don't know what to do. I can't afford to pay back my student loans and probably never will be able to make payments based on current income and options. When I attended college I really thought my income would be much more substantial than it is or will be. I am 52 years old and it is highly unlikely I will ever make much more money than I'm currently making. Due in large part to my debt/ income ratio, my credit rating will never be good which affects other expenses such as car insurance and auto loans.

      I am sending a copy of this letter to the US Department of Education as well as the office of the student loan ombudsman. I am out of options and scared to death about my situation.

      I would appreciate some assistance and solutions.

      Elizabeth McKinley


    • Janet Duncan SAN ANSELMO, CA
      • about 2 years ago

      Co-signed private loans for adult daughter. After graduation, this economy is such that she has not been hired and is working part time for $15 per hour helping the elderly. Since she has little income, she doesn't qualify for a consolidation loan. She cannot afford to pay the ever increasing 6 monthly amounts. They increase because the interest has increased the loans to much more than borrowed and continue to do so. She owes $130 thousand dollars (last month) and neither death nor bankruptcy will get her out. I live on disability income now. I cannot afford her loans, and those loans have caused my credit to be denied although my score is 802. the full amounts appear as debt on BOTH of our credit reports.

    • Tracy Marks CORAL SPRINGS, FL
      • over 2 years ago

      We the People NEED your help desperately. I would respectful request that if you haven’t yet, please will take a close look at H.R.4170 and give your support. The lending agencies, loan companies, many for-profit educational systems as well as lobbyist and collection agencies have bound themselves together in a near impenetrable legal loan sharking scam that must be stopped in order to protect our economic future and the other 99% who support it.

      Student loan interest rates, collection practices and profiteers are out of control. Compound interest is crippling those who have taken out student loans in order to better themselves and the economics of our country. H.R. 4170 tells the story.

      During the period of forbearance on private student loans, interest continues to accrue and is capitalized, and once the borrower comes out of forbearance, he or she owes SIGNIFICATLY more on the principal of the loan than before the hardship period began. A borrower who experiences an extended hardship for whatever reason, or a borrower who experiences a series of separate hardships over a longer period of time, will often have no choice but to default on his or her private student loans. Opportunities to put such private loans into forbearance are limited. Amidst rising tuition rates and stagnant grant funding, many students (or their parents) are forced (in order to compete in the job market) to supplement Federal loans with private loans, which frequently feature higher interest rates with fewer consumer protections.

      A well-educated citizenry is critical to our Nation's ability to compete in the global economy. Higher education should be viewed as a public good benefiting our country rather than as a commodity solely benefiting individual students. The Federal Government has a vested interest in ensuring access to higher education.

      Excessive student loan debt is impeding economic growth in the United States. Faced with excessive repayment burdens, many individuals are unable to start businesses, invest, or buy homes. Relieving student loan debt would give these individuals greater control over their earnings and would increase entrepreneurship and demand for goods and services.

      Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter. The stories are everywhere and suicide has too often been the result of the hopelessness so many feel. Many of us did have a back-up plan, and as I am sure you know, even those plans can fail or be thwarted sometimes. Your help would be most gratefully appreciated. Please stand with us on this issue. After all… those with student loans pay taxes too!


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