Solidarity Does’t Mean Default, or why folks should not pledge to default on their student loans

Student loans are horrible. There are really isn’t a better word to describe what it means to have to mortgage your future in order to have a shot at having a future. It’s disgusting that in America economic opportunity is a gift from parents to children instead of an opporunity earned equally.

But, it’s dangerous and a failure of truly understanding the struggle of the high indebted student loan borrower to ask them to pledge to default on their federal loans if the US Department of Education doesn’t forgive the Corinthian 100 of their student loan debt as Strike Debt has demanded.

Let’s be clear: I support the Corinthian 100 and their quest for debt forgiveness. It was wrong for ED to certify Corinthian as a school and for the students to be granted loans. These loans should all be forgiven since Corinthian folded as an institution. But it is malpractice in the organizing sphere to ask people who are struggling economically to push themselves in financial ruin when there isn’t a path to victory.

This morning, Strike Debt asked that everyone with federal student loans “If you support the Corinthian 100, stand with them now, when they need it most. Sign on and threaten to stop paying your federal student loans in support of Corinthian students.” This ask shows that they truly don’t understand the economic impact of being defaulted on federal or private student loans.

— You can’t lease an apartment in most places without a co-signer

— You can’t get a car lease

— You can’t get a credit card

— You can’t get a mortgage

— You may loose your professional license

— Your credit score with drop

— Your tax refund and wages could be garnished.

I believe that student loans are immoral but path to prosperity for folks like me with student loans isn’t through default. I am defaulted on several of my private loans and it’s awful. I wouldn’t wish default on my worst enemy and I wouldn’t even ask folks to pledge to default.

As organizers, we have a responsibility to not harm the people we are organizing. The Corinthian 100 have a path to justice through their refusal. Regular federal student loan borrowers do not have a path to prosperity through a solidarity debt strike for Corinthian 100. More over, there is no pledge from the Corinthian 100 to have the backs of other student borrowers.

I support the Corinthian 100 but I hope that you do not pledge to go into default.

Hold tight. I’m lauching Project Springboard in a few weeks that will work to uplift and empower the defaulted student loan borrowers. And I hope that those who aren’t yet defaulted will join us in working to eradicate student loan debt and work to make all college tuition free.

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