Opinion: Obama should push bankruptcy relief for student loans
President Obama discusses student loan debt this week at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
April 27th, 2012
06:50 AM ET

Opinion: Obama should push bankruptcy relief for student loans

By Anya Kamenetz, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Anya Kamenetz is a senior writer at Fast Company magazine and the author of Generation Debt, DIY U, and the free book The Edupunks' Guide.

(CNN) - This week President Obama did a swing through some college campuses talking about student loan debt. The immediate issue is the 3.4% interest rate on federal student loans. It's set to double July 1 unless Congress acts. Keeping the rate low in this still weak economy is, as the president said, a no-brainer. Even his opponent Mitt Romney has endorsed it. But the larger problem - mounting college costs and a cumulative $1 trillion in student loan debt — remains untouched.

Some recent polls have shown that support for Obama among young voters, once Obama's enthusiastic fans, may be waning in this election compared with four years ago. Student loans are seen by some as the president's chosen key to regaining their hearts. But really, the issue has been raised for him by the Occupy movement, gearing up this May 1 with a new set of actions focusing on the cost of college and the depredations of the student loan industry.

Additionally, almost 700,000 people have signed a petition sponsored by MoveOn.org for student loan forgiveness, started by lawyer and student-loan debtor Robert Applebaum. And the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, introduced by U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Michigan, last month, is aimed at offering relief.

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    April 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  3. Jill

    Hey Ed can you say the same for the bail outs the banks got where was there responsibility. It was our tax dollars used to pay for there bail out. And do you know how those banks repaid those loans through the increase in interest rates. So again it was the people who paid back the bail out for the banks. So please tell me where was there responsibility. I am a democrat . There is a specific formula to having the government pay for someone's education and most people don't qualify. I worked full time through college as did my husband and we did not qualify for the government to give us any money to pay for our education so student loans where necessary most Americans are not as fortunate as you and your family to use tax payers money to pay for there education so congratulations to you.

    April 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  4. ED

    I'm not surprised to hear Republican voters always bringing the race card to the table, both words do start with "R".
    I paid off all of my loans but, I agree that our economy can't grow with low tech jobs and rediculous loan payments. I do believe that Doctors and Lawyers should be excluded from a loan forgiveness program; those are the thriving jobs in America.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jill

      Ed I disagree with your post dr's and lawyers be excluded especially with the Medicare Medicaid reimbursement rates. My husband is a podiatrist in the state of New York he does not make six figures and currently owes in student loan fees over $250,000.00. It is wrong for anyone to assume that because you are a doctor or lawyer you immediately make all this money and should be exempt from something that would benefit everyone. Check your facts and know what you are talking about before you make a comment to exclude certain people as that would be considered racecist.

      April 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Ed

    Take responsibility for your life! I used VA benefits, grants and a job to pay for my education. My son waits tables and uses Pell Grants to pay for his. My daughter is a carhop at Sonic and babysits to augment her Pell Grants. My niece earned a full-ride academic scholarship, stays on the Dean's List and works to pay her way. Not one of us owes a penny for our education. Taking loans you may not be able to easily repay is wrong. Be responsible. Earn your money.

    April 28, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Joe

      i completely disagree. The only way for my wife to go to school was to take out loans. She has worked non stop her whole life but unfortunately due to her career path the only way to continue her education was to take out loans. She owes over $40,000 in loans. There is no way, just by working part time she would have been able to afford the school she went to for her career. You say to be responsible and earn your money, i say the government should be responsible and make it easier for children to get an education.

      April 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Danielle

      I am happy that you and your children are poor enough to qualify for pell grants however not all of us are that lucky, and some of us have to take out student loans to pay for our education. I personally qualify for pell grants, however without parental support in order to cover books, leftover tuition, car insurance, etc. I have to work and take out loans. Education is only free for the poor and veterans not us everyday middle class Americans and personally I would LOVE to have my now over $30,000 in debt excused because I can't find a job in my field and am currently waitressing with a college degree.

      April 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
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    April 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  7. David in Corpus

    The only way, ONLY WAY, I will vote for Obama is if he immediately (before the election) forgives all current student loan debts (including white people's) and my paycheck (currently being garnished 20percent) goes back to normal.
    You want my vote Mr. President? You can buy it for $40,000 I owe and the $60,000 my wife owes, otherwise I vote for any Republican, even Dick Cheney himself.
    I am not even kidding either.

    April 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Elena

      Including white people's? That's an insanely ignorant statement. Why would he forgive only non-white loans? Ridiculous.

      April 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • lesley

      That is a pretty irrational reason to vote repub, co side ring no republican would want student loans to be dischargeable

      April 28, 2012 at 10:30 am |
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