InsideHigherEd.com is reporting today that a group called Occupy Student Debt will announce a new movement – the Pledge of Refusal to Pay Student Loans. I have discussed the Pledge previously here and here, but to recap, the basic idea is that once the Pledge has 1 million signatures, signees will stop paying their student loans.
The risk is great – not only will students face the ruined credit score that all loan defaulters face, but they will also face the possiblity of garnished wages, and they won’t be able to save themselves via bankruptcy. But some debtors think its worth it:
Pamela Brown, a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the New School, has taken on debt for her graduate degree, although she hopes to go into public service and take advantage of a program that forgives borrowers’ loans after 10 years. Her loans are currently deferred because she is still enrolled in college. But if the need arises, she is willing to default in protest, she said.
“Even if the majority says, ‘Hey, that’s not for me. I don’t want to take a risk like that,’ there are enough people, I think, out there who feel that their situation is dire enough to take that chance in an effort to change things,” said Brown, who is one of the organizers of Occupy Student Debt. “For me, it’s an issue of justice.”
But Occupy Student Debt is not just about helping those who sign the Pledge. The group’s other proposals include tuition-free colleges, interest-free private loans, public access to the financial books of private and for-profit institutions, and the writing-off of all current student loan debt.
Even if the Pledge doesn’t succeed, this is a huge triumph for student loan debtors. Finally, the issue of student loan debt is getting some serious media play and a serious movement dedicated to fixing the system. I can’t wait to see what will come of it. So, what do you think? Would you sign the Pledge?