CNBC: Defaulting on student loans like ‘civil disobedience’: Author

Career College Central Summary:


  • If you're one of the 43 million Americans burdened by student loan debt, then you know that repaying your loan isn't fun.
  • So what if you just stopped?
  • That's what author Lee Siegel recently proposed in his controversial New York Times op-ed "Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans." He wants borrowers to stop paying on the collective $1.2 trillion in total student debt, in order to protest a system that in his mind unfairly penalizes poor and middle-class students.
  • "If the banks have become too big to fail, then the people have become too small to succeed," argued Siegel, defending what he says would be "a collective act of civil disobedience" in an interview with CNBC's "On the Money."
  • Currently, student loan default rates hover below 14 percent, according to government data. Yet a number of observers warn that a potential wave of defaults could loom, as graduates find themselves unable to pay while tuition prices keep climbing.
  • Siegel attended two small colleges before earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia University. He explained that he took out a total of $48,000 in loans that have since ballooned to $150,000 with interest and fees on his way to becoming a college professor.
  • He contended that he chose to become a writer instead but "tried to pay it back, and just couldn't do it."
  • The class of 2015 could face a similar future. According to college financial planning site, 70 percent have graduated with student loans averaging a total of $35,051. For those graduating from for-profit colleges, that number jumps to $48,024.

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