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

This petition was delivered to:

Rep. Sandy Levin

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% http://tinyurl.com/7ohxq5h

FACT: Since 1999, average student loan debt has increased by 511%
http://tinyurl.com/3gdfwnn

FACT: In 2010, total outstanding student loan debt exceeded total outstanding credit card debt in America for the first time ever http://tinyurl.com/3y9koxy

FACT: Total outstanding student loan debt now exceeds $1 Trillion 
http://tinyurl.com/2fegw9d

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
http://tinyurl.com/6uxncud

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. 
http://tinyurl.com/y46sw9v

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. 
http://tinyurl.com/2abz6fb

More facts here: http://tinyurl.com/cfeak78

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

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    1. Reached 10 signatures

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    Reasons for signing

    • Johanne DuFort PINCKNEY, MI
      • about 2 years ago

      Short Student Loan History asking for help

      I need an attorney in Michigan that specializes in defaulted student loans because mine are in default status, and my husband and I are being pursued by the Holzman Group on behalf of the US Justice Department to collect.

      In 1984, as a single mother of two young children, I graduated from the University of Michigan, School of Art with a Bachelors of Fine Art (magna cum laude) and a K-12 Education Certificate. I planned to teach. I had accumulated approximately $20,000-24,000 in student loans, all of which were used to pay our rent for the townhouse at the University's North Campus Family Housing. My tuition, books, and supplies were paid through Pell Grants and various scholarships from the Continuing Education of Women, and the School of Art.

      In 1983, prior to my earning my BFA, the School of Art asked me to take a tenured professor’s class load. After earning my BFA, the Dean of the School of Art encouraged me to apply for graduate school there and assisted me in applying for scholarships and approximately $16,000 more in student loans. The Master of Fine Arts is a terminal degree that prepares one to teach at the college level. I had the impression I would be considered as faculty at the School of Art, after obtaining my MFA. No other student was teaching full class loads prior to earning a BFA. I did not receive compensation for the three years of teaching at the University of Michigan, School of Art while working on my MFA.

      I married Robert in October of 1986. My husband was a controlling and abusive man, and would not permit me to use our household income to pay my student loans (amongst many other abuses).

      In 1986, after earning my MFA, I became an Adjunct Professor at The University of Michigan, School of Art. My duties included; counseling undergraduate School of Art students; teaching Life Drawing Classes; overseeing Graduate Art Students in Mixed Media Projects and lead their Critiques; and conduct Summer Workshops. My class loads were equal to a tenured professor. I earned approximately $12,000-18,000 a year. Professors at this time were earning from $60,000-100,000 per year. 

      In 1991 the School of Art underwent massive budget cuts from the University of Michigan. All adjunct, assistant, and associate professors at the School of Art were let go in 1991, and I lost this position.

      In 1991-93, I worked teaching concurrent part time positions. I taught Drawing, Printmaking, and Art Appreciation at Schoolcraft College for five years, and provided substitute teaching to the Ann Arbor public school system for seven years. On average, I earned from $10,000-17,000 and struggled financially throughout these years.

      In 1992, I left Robert, and desired to rehabilitate my student loan so I consented to sign an agreement in 1993 with the Student Loan Department. I did not understand that this was a consolidation that effectively changed the date of my student loan. I was told they could not rehabilitate my loan or accept payments until I signed it. They never offered to restructure my payment under an ICR or IBR plan based on my income. I was single again and still had the living expenses associated with having teenagers. Due to capitalized interest, my student loans had now nearly doubled to $75,000.In 1994.  

      In 1994, I became a Realtor to supplement my income, but did not make the money I expected. I continued to try and seek a teaching position in southeastern Michigan area schools in 1994-96, but no one was hiring in the 90's. After 1996, my resume began to show the serious lack of updated and relevant activity in the fine arts and education fields. I was devastated, but I had to quit trying. I gave up my dream of teaching and dedicated myself to real estate in order to pay my bills. I earned approximately $12,000 per year during this period.

      In 1997, unable to meet my financial obligations and in large part due to the size of the monthly payment of the student loans, I filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. My student loans were legally dischargeable in bankruptcy and they were the principle reason I filed. I completed the three year plan in 2000 with the help of an attorney. The Student Loan Department did not raise an objection and were included as a creditor in my bankruptcy plan. The Student Loan Department accepted my monthly payments of over $300, thereby suggesting that this loan would be discharged. The Student Loan Department received approximately $11,000 from me during this time.

      In 2000, Jerry and I married.

      In 2001, after finalizing the discharge of the bankruptcy, I received a notice from the Student Loan Department, that my student loan was not discharged due to a new law requiring it to have been in repayment for seven years before discharge in bankruptcy and they were not going to count the years from 1986 to 1994 (before I signed the consolidation). By this new standard, I had only five years in repayment prior to bankruptcy and this technicality disqualified my student loan for discharge. Interest had continued to accrue while in Bankruptcy and continued to be capitalized into the principle. My student loan was now over $100,000.  My attorney did not file adversary proceedings to discharge my student loans.

      After the Student Loan Department had begun to pursue me, Jerry hired an attorney to negotiate a settlement with them on my behalf and offered them $36,000-40,000. He had these funds available from the recent sale of his home. Jerry's offer was turned down and he bought a house in  2002 with his funds.

      In 2001, Jerry worked at Pfizer and obtained his real estate license and began working part-time in the real estate industry. He knew he needed to prepare for the future, as Pfizer was closing its local facilities.

      In 2005, Jerry borrowed money and purchased a building and renovated  it for his new real estate business, and I provided him with the broker's license he needed to operate. Per the operating agreement, Jerry is the single owner of the LLC. I am not a member but was the broker

      In 2008, a Process Server tried to serve his office a Writ of Garnishment for me to Jerry's business at Lake & Land, but I am not his employee.  He retained the services of an attorney to guide us through the process of defending us in this matter.  That attorney recommended that we do nothing to stop them as I was uncollectable.

      I help Jerry at his real estate office, but I am not an employee and have never received payment. He cannot afford to pay me and the bills too. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly and the clothes on my back. I do not handle any cash; ever! Jerry seldom uses cash either, which means that all of our spending activities are easily tracked on credit card statements. Monies left after paying the operating expenses are claimed as his annual income. The years 2008, 2009 and 2010 were reported as losses as the real estate business had collapsed at this time. Last year he made $35,000, and so far in 2012 he has not yet received any wages; but rather has contributed personal funds from his severance package from Pfizer into the business account to keep the business afloat.

      As a Broker for Lake & Land Real Estate, my obligation was to review and sign the Settlement Statements prior to a closing, and monitor the escrow account. The Statute does not obligate Lake & Land to pay me for these services, and furthermore, I will be relieved of this position as Jerry’s Office Manager has completed her broker requirements and has taken over these duties.

      All commission checks are made out to Lake & Land Real Estate. I never receive funds. I am a figurehead and am present on all advertisements, thereby contributing to the public's perception that there is a large team working on their behalf at Lake & Land.

      The Holzman Corkery Group wishes to prove Jerry and I have defrauded the Student Loan Department by hiding my salary. In truth, while I support Jerry in his business whenever required, the business cannot afford to pay me.

      I would like to work out a resolution with the Student Loan Department but I cannot responsibly agree to a repayment or settlement plan that cripples Jerry’s budget to the extent that bankruptcy and foreclosure becomes imminent for him. He is upside down and owes far more in debt than he owns in assets. Jerry has been transparent with all his of his accounts and tax returns. He has offered $15,000, which is the majority of his remaining severance package balance of $16,150. He is demonstrating earnestness and is operaingd in good faith.

      The Holzman Group has offered a settlement of $25,000 cash right now and $500 a month for however long it takes to pay $88,000.  We cannot afford this; Can you help us?

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    • Andrea Smith ROCHESTER HILLS, MI
      • about 2 years ago

      Hello,

      I am currently a student that has a student loan amount of over 35000 that is being charged interest the moment it is applied to my tuition. I had to take out extra bank loans just so I could pay for the rest of my tuition since the 3500 of unsub. loans from the government per semester ( only Fall and Winter Summer does not get any funding) was not sufficient enough. I live with my parents in order to save on housing. My 35000 debt is purely for tuition that has been climbing drastically. Within only two semesters my tuition has risen from 350 to 370. I can not transfer to another college without loosing over 20 credits . Since I will attend medical school in the future this is only the beginning of crushing debt. Please help us student!

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