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Petitioning United States Congress

United States Congress: No more shackles! Student loan reform now!

Dear Congress:

My generation is shackled. You won't see our chains at first glance. We are good at disguising our captivity, for downplaying one’s trials is practically the American way. So what if most of us weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths? We can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps through hard work and dedication, right? That is, as long as we purchase our ticket to a middle-class life: A college education. My generation is almost militant about the importance of college. By any means necessary, we will earn a college degree, even if it means borrowing ungodly sums of money from government and private lenders. After all, our salaries will certainly be cushy enough to pay our debtors back with ease upon graduation… in a perfect world.

Reality check: This particular American dream has come to a grinding halt in the 21st century. A bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees status or job security. Is taking out a student loan really a smart idea when sky-high student loan interest rates are slated to double this year in a country where a corporation is regarded as more of a person than a college graduate? Many college graduates of my generation toil in temporary, minimum wage jobs with zero benefits. Signing a student loan promissory note in 2013 is akin to signing one’s life away in a nation where our government would rather invest in corporations than young people. Borrowing a student loan now consists of a journey to debtors' prison with no foreseeable release date.

Why don't our politicians seem to care? Aren't we the future of this country --- the ones who will be voting for years and years to come? We cannot maintain the land of the free and the home of the brave if we can barely afford to house ourselves due to student loan debt! How can we innovate if we can't afford to eat? I propose transformative student loan reform in Washington as soon as possible because it's the only way my generation will be set free.

I propose genuine consideration of the following reforms by all US Congress members:

• Lower interest rates of current and future federal student loan payments by at least 50 percent.
• Collaborate with public and private colleges to lower tuitions nationwide.
• Require students to complete short course about student loans before borrowing money for college.
• Instate legislation to prevent predatory lending by private institutions.
• Allow borrowers to volunteer (not work) in public service to help repay student loans.
• Allocate more federal money for grants and work-study.
• Extend federal aid privileges to college students who are currently or were previously incarcerated.

These are just a few of my personal suggestions, and my peers have many, many more. Please keep in mind: The issue of student loan reform is something that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can get behind, not just me (a working-class, Black twenty-something lady living in Atlanta). Student loan debt is (literally) not just a black and white issue. People who struggle with paying off their student loans occupy every corner of our country. Student loan debt plagues countless members of my generation, and we are no longer willing to be taken advantage of by officials we elected to represent our best interests.

Warm regards,

Denechia P.


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