"We've Got to Think About More than Just Profits and Money": The Debt Collective in Georgia and Alabama
The fight for debt cancellation for all defrauded borrowers continues! Last week, Debt Collective organizers, Ann and Laura, traveled to Alabama and Georgia to meet in person with some of the former for-profit college students who are leading the fight against corrupt schools and their helpers at the Department of Education.
In Atlanta, we met with people who attended Art Institute and Everest College. They told stories similar to those we have heard from coast to coast.
Bobby described being lied to about job placement rates by admissions officers at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
James spoke about how glad he was to learn that he was not at fault for his decision to enroll in Everest's Melbourne campus and that thousands of others are in the same situation.
Lisa talked about how hard it is to imagine being able to buy a home and have a family of her own one day. Since her debt has ruined her credit, she cannot rent an apartment, save for the future, or obtain health insurance.
Tenelle joined the National Guard in the hope of being able to put off her loan payments for as long as possible.
Everyone around the table told similar stories of going to college to improve their lives and then finding themselves worse off than before. The group of folks that met together in Atlanta is determined to spread the word and excited for the fall campaign.
In Birmingham, AL, Ann and Laura met with a former student from ITT Tech. Chad described how he had moved with his family from Oklahoma to Alabama when the tire plant where his father worked closed down in the 1980s. With no help from ITT, Chad found a job in a luxury car factory where he has been able to observe the struggles of working people for many years. About for-profit colleges, Chad said, "We've got to change the way we think and change the way we do things. We've got to think about more than just profits and money." Listen to an audio recording of Chad's interview here:
While in Alabama, Ann and Laura researched different kinds of debt. They learned that the state's property taxes are some of the lowest in the US, which leaves municipalities and counties struggling to fund public services, such as education and transportation. Many people in the state are forced to take out short-term, high-interest payday loans in order to cover rent, utilities and other basic needs. Local governments also charge high fees to people who commit minor offenses, a practice that disproportionately impacts low-income people. Lawyers and local activists said things were so bad that the only way they can be resolved is by people coming together in large numbers to demand change. The Debt Collective is helping to build a road to a better future.