The average young person in America today graduates with $25,000 in student loans. This growing blanket of debt is weighing down a generation and holding back our economic recovery.
Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund started working on student loans in January, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation. At the time, the issue was getting lip-service from politicians, but few were really paying attention.
The organization has worked with partners, including USPIRG, Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), and United States Student Association (USSA) to raise young peoples' voices about the abuse of the student loan industry. When Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA), chair of the subcommittee for higher education, said she had “very little tolerance” for people with student loans, more than 112,000 Rebuild members signed a petition in protest. At Sallie Mae's annual shareholder meeting, 23-year-old organizer Molly Katchpole and four other activists negotiated their way into the meeting to tell their personal stories of debt and present more than 43,000 petition signatures demanding the lender treat its borrowers more fairly.
After six months of this grassroots pressure, the student loan issue today is a regular headline issue in major media outlets. President Obama has come out strong in support of more protections for student borrowers. And on Friday, Congress acted at the last minute to stop an interest rate hike on federal Stafford student loans, an important grassroots victory that will save Americans billions of dollars.
Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund is continuing to organize and empower young people to fight against student loan industry abuses, and to make education more accessible for all. Importantly, they are lifting new voices into the national conversation, including more than 1,100 personal stories of debt struggles, which they have posted to this interactive map: