Student Loans: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Student Loans: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Student Loan Debt Crisis in the US

  • Over 43 million Americans have student loans totaling $1.7 trillion in debt.
  • The student loan program has expanded significantly over the years, with key expansions by presidents such as LBJ, Nixon, and Clinton.
  • The cost of college has steadily increased, with the average net cost of attendance for in-state students at public schools now around $20,000 per year.
  • States have been slashing funding for public colleges and universities, leading to increased tuition and fees.
  • Many public universities have responded by ramping up spending on amenities to lure out-of-state and international students, who pay higher tuition rates.

Consequences of Student Loan Debt

  • Many students take on large amounts of debt without fully understanding the consequences.
  • Student loans can make it difficult to plan for the future, such as having children.
  • The burden of student debt disproportionately affects certain groups, such as those from low-income families and borrowers with smaller debt amounts.
  • Parent PLUS loans allow parents to take out student loans on their child's behalf, but these loans are risky and can lead to retirees being saddled with debt.
  • Student loans are extremely difficult to discharge through bankruptcy.
  • Student loan services often make it difficult for borrowers to navigate the system and access programs that can ease the burden of debt.

Student Loan Forgiveness and Relief Efforts

  • The student loan forgiveness program has a 99% denial rate due to complicated mechanics and servicers steering borrowers into forbearance instead.
  • A whistleblower revealed that Navient employees were graded on how quickly they could get customers off the phone, not on how helpful they were.
  • The Biden administration has managed to get meaningful solutions through by tweaking existing programs, forgiving nearly $12 billion for borrowers with disabilities and $56 billion for public service loan forgiveness borrowers.
  • The SAVE plan, a retooled version of income-driven repayment, lowers eligibility requirements and ensures that debts would be wiped clean after 10 years of payments for those who borrowed less than $122,000.
  • The Biden administration has relieved a total of $138 billion in student loans for 3.9 million people in just three years, more than any president in history.

Addressing the Student Loan Debt Crisis

  • Addressing the giant pile of debt and the absurd cost of college are crucial, with proposals ranging from holding colleges responsible for a portion of the debt to making college tuition-free.

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