Opinions — December 4, 2012 at 6:03 am

Dead and still buried in college debt: let’s forgive student loans

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Courtesy of Great Minds of Today

A bailout is a term for giving a loan to a company that faces serious financial difficulty or bankruptcy. Who has not heard of a private bank or company receiving a bailout in these past few years? So far the government has disbursed $604.5 billion in bailout money; getting only $346.2 billion back, according to ProPublica. These bailouts saved our country from going through a total economic and banking collapse. Who knows what would have happened if these banks weren’t given a chance? Or given a hand up from the dark times that they faced? The government stepped in and prevented the collapse from happening. These companies were facing extreme hardships and the possibility of failing and shutting their doors, but an entity stepped in and helped them out. Why do I bring this up? Because in this recession that seemingly will never end, big companies aren’t the only people that need a little help. The people like you and me, the ones without millions in their pockets need help too. People like Ella Edwards and Francisco Reynoso deserve a second chance just like all the multi-billion-dollar companies were given.

Edwards’ son, Jermaine, was 24 years old when he died from natural causes. A mother had to bury her own son. You would think that would be the worst of it, that there’s nothing else bad that could happen to this woman’s life. But it turns out Jermaine decided to do this thing called “going to college.” He decided to better his life through higher education and needed loans to get him through it; loans his mother, like any of our mothers, gratefully co-signed. Once he died she began to receive calls from private loan companies demanding money be paid for her deceased son’s loans. Edwards was 61 years old at the time she began getting calls from debt collectors, forcing her out of retirement and into depression due to the struggle of paying these loans. The federal government that gave Edwards’ son loans graciously erased the debt a month after her son passed. The private companies still insist on getting their money to this day.

America runs on returning things. If we buy something that breaks down the road we take our receipt and we get our money back. We believe that if we pay for something and we don’t get what we paid for then we get our money back. That is our belief.

So here is a man that received a college education and tragically passed away, not getting a chance to reap the benefits of said education. Shouldn’t Edwards have a right then to get another type of return? She should not be forced to pay back these loans that went to nothing. If failing companies receive bailouts and help when they reach tough times why can’t you and I as individuals receive a little help?

Francisco Reynoso was beyond proud when his son, Freddy, got accepted to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Once again a proud father did what any father would do—cosign his son’s student loans to give him the chance to achieve the American Dream. Freddy graduated in May of 2008 and immediately began looking for work, looking for a chance to repay his debt. When he was driving home from a job interview he got in a car accident and was tragically killed. For a year and a half Reynoso received multiple calls a day from debt collectors. Reynoso wasn’t even sure how much money his son owed because his son’s loans had been sold over and over again, ending with the banking conglomerate UBS, and Xerox, which owns the loan servicer handling the bulk of his loans. Once again the federal agency erased the debt and called it quits. The corporate companies were the ones that kept hounding for the money.

It turns out that back when AIG received a backdoor bailout, UBS also benefited from AIG, resulting in government cash infusions totaling $182.5 billion. As other banks failed around them, they benefitted from the misfortune. UBS allows other banks to suffer while they reap the benefits from their suffering. At the same time, they are a business and they should be allowed to prosper when others are failing. There’s nothing wrong with that. But shouldn’t there be a line? It’s one thing to handle business well and prosper. It’s another to ruthlessly go after someone like Reynoso, who only makes $21,000 annually as a gardener. Even our own government found the fault in forcing these parents to pay their deceased children’s student loans; the same government that bailed 926 companies out. If our government can forgive, why can’t the corporations?

I hear many fellow students talk of their loans, talk of when they graduate it’s time to find a job in a market where jobs are at a minimum so they can start paying off their loans. Is this the new American Dream? Go to school just so that we can take out loans to pay off later? While I think higher education is essential, it does not sound very inviting at $15,000 a year or even more. Especially not when stories like Edwards and Reynoso get leaked out, leaving us to wonder what is the point of getting a higher education. What’s the purpose when you may just die and leave behind a pile of debt for your parents to pay after they already did their part of raising you to get to the collegiate level without becoming a complete degenerate, leaving them to have to pay off a college education that received zero benefits, and never the chance to see their child prosper from a college education.

Corporations are receiving bailouts because they weren’t able to do their job. It’s not that each CEO had a tragic death resulting in a loss of funds. They were supposed to do their job and they didn’t; their businesses began to fail so they sought after a bailout to keep things afloat. But what about Edwards? What about Reynoso? How did they not do their job? They raised children on a low-income budget and led them to become respectable American citizens. These families did everything right, unlike the private companies that failed and then received help. Reynoso and Edwards did things the right way and are simply not getting any of the help that they deserve.

You, as a reader, can go to www.change.org and look up Ella Edwards’ petition to sign and personally make a change in this one woman’s life. They raised their children to reach the ultimate goal of obtaining higher education and yet these private companies refuse to allow them a bailout. It’s time we start giving bailouts to the common man. It’s time to erase the debt from these two families.

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