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This is all very bleak, I know.
There's hope, though, and it's the Christmas wish I've made every year since the Bureau of Consumer Protection was established in 2011. This year, I feel more hopeful than ever that President Obama will grant it, like he did for thousands of students who were swindled by Corinthian Colleges (the company that owned Everest, Florida Metropolitan University and other for-profit schools). Cancel those loans. All of them.
When Corinthian Colleges closed all their campuses and filed for bankruptcy in May 2015, they also settled a class-action lawsuit and relieved former students of millions of dollars in student loans. On Dec. 3, 2015, President Obama canceled more of those loans (only federal loans, though), bringing the total forgiven loans to over $100 million. When you land on the Department of Education's website, there's now a section for closed-school discharge. There are extensive criteria, but if they add Le Cordon Bleu to the list of failed for-profit programs, the chances are looking good for relief.
Why should this matter to those of you with degrees that actually pay off, or those who skipped the degree mill altogether? Student loan debt has mounted to more than $1.2 trillion, and is stopping the most cash-strapped generation of Americans from progressing, which means another depressed economy is seemingly inevitable once our parents' generation settles into their depleted 401(k)s and stops spending.
I can only hope that, for the sake of the friends I graduated with and the ones who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu schools both before and after I did, that same school-closure clause will apply to us as well – so that someday, we can realize our futures without the sextuple-digit education costs we've incurred and support ethical and high-quality businesses in our community and around the world. Why, yes, I'd really like to buy your artisan letterpress stationery for $15 a sheet, but I have this student loan that's really a drag, ya know?
It sounds melodramatic, but it's not just for us – it's for the country. Student loan debt is the next big bubble to burst, and as the closing of so many for-profit colleges has shown, unlike the banks, no college built on such an unethical model is too big to fail.
As for me, I just got married to a man who loves me despite my credit score. We are trying to buy our first home (unsuccessfully, for now, but we're optimistic). And I have three full English Comp I classes for next semester, which means I'll actually be able to make my payments to Sallie Mae, or Navient, or Nelnet, or whoever is "servicing" my debt now. I'm looking forward to the day when President Obama (or President Sanders – fingers crossed) sends me that letter that says I can dream about a financially secure future again. Until then, let me know if you have any odd jobs I can pick up.