Monday, August 3, 2015

Alan Collinge Still Fighting For Student Debt Reform

It has been some time since I have published anything from student loan activist Alan Collinge.  Here is the latest update on his activities.


Hello Folks:

I am happy to say that we have now been in Washington D.C. for 6 months as of yesterday. Given the rough start for this trip, I would say that this in and of itself is quite an accomplishment. It is only through your financial, logistical, and other support that we were able to pull this off.

During that time, we've gotten A LOT done. Please consider:

1. We were featured, front page, at the Chronicle of Higher Education
2. We published 3 pieces at TheHill.com:
3. We produced 3 radio segments:
4. We appeared on live, national television:
5. We protested at the Center for American Progress, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
6. We did one radio show, and also published an essay at Tikkun.org:
7. We flyered the entire Congress (both House and Senate) multiple times.
8. Our members were responsible for getting several cosponsors for HR. 449, and our petition has received nearly 6000 signatures to date:
Given that it took us over a month to get to DC, and that we arrived nearly penniless, and without housing (we still operate out of hostels as I type this), I would say that this is pretty good. It has been a very humbling (and at times extraordinarily austere) experience, I should add.

There are several projects we are working on that I cannot talk about currently, but suffice it to say that they are significant, and one is potentially HUGE for us...I hope to have more to say on these in a week's time, perhaps less.
Most importantly, we now have two VERY GOOD PIECES OF LEGISLATION to fight for: HR 449, and HR1352. Remember folks, it has been nearly TEN YEARS since we have had decent legislation to fight for, and so this is a window of opportunity that we simply cannot pass up. We must continue to fight for these important pieces of legislation.

Notably, please know that in the past month, Donald Trump has joined Elizabeth Warren in decrying the fact that the Department of Education is profiting some $40 billion on student loans every year. Similarly, Robert Reich has joined conservative columnists like David Brooks in calling for a return of bankruptcy protections to all student loans. That is big. That is wide, that is hugely significant for us.

The bottom line: We have some serious momentum on our side at this point, folks, and as we sit on the leading edge of the presidential race, I am sure that this will only increase, and probably greatly.

Please Know: There are 40 million people in the country with student loan debt, and by my most conservative estimates, between 26-30 million of these people are currently unable to make payments on the debt. This is a huge number of people, most of whom vote. This is enough people to turn a LOSS into a LANDSLIDE in the presidential race. I hope the significance of this is not lost on you.

As you are all aware, fundraising has been the BIGGEST challenge for us over these months. Nonetheless, we managed to raise an average of about $1300 each of the six months that we've been here, and that came entirely from you, the members. Thank you, all who stepped up to help. I think this was from around 200-300 individuals who contributed. These people deserve alot of credit for what we have done, and what we will do.

I hope that you all will agree that we need to be here in DC for the foreseeable future- certainly past August- and perhaps beyond the end of the year to keep this ball rolling and building. If you agree with this assessment, I implore you to signal this with a contribution- however modest- and/or by doing a bit of the grunt work that is required for this grassroots movement (ie signing the petitions, contacting and badgering your electeds, commenting on articles, calling the media, and whatever else you can think of that will move the needle in our favor, and according to your unique skills, contacts, abilities, etc.).

The links to donate:
Facebook is about to cut off this message, so I will only again say Thank You, be hopeful, and KEEP FIGHTING! WE CAN ONLY WIN BUT WE MUST FIGHT! I am looking forward to seeing what the coming months will bring us. I hope you think similarly, and will help make the next 6 months far more productive, effective, and hopefully VICTORIOUS for ALL OF US!!!
Regards,