September 17, 2014; The Guardian
The last time that the Nonprofit Quarterly checked in with Occupy offshoot Strike Debt and their Rolling Jubilee Fund was in November of 2013, when their total amount of purchased consumer debt—mostly medical—had reached 14.7 million dollars. This week, on the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the nonprofit announced that they had acquired and zeroed out an additional $4 million in student loan debt.
These debts came from the students at Everest College, a school that’s part of the Corinthian College network of for-profit educational institutions. Corinthian is currently being sued by the federal government for “victimizing tens of thousands of students with predatory loan and debt-collection practices.” Corinthian is trying to shutter their schools and sell off their debt as quickly as possible, leaving Everett students among what Strike Debt describes as “the most extorted students we know of.” (And, of course, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.)
The long-term goal of Strike Debt is to organize “debt collectives,” wherein people with defaulted loans or other unsolvable debts can negotiate for better terms with creditors and otherwise escape unsavory debt collection practices. To this end, they’ve organized a kind of FAQ for students at Corinthian College schools like Everest, WyoTech, and Heald, informing them of the details behind their situation and offering advice for future action.
Readers who feel a sudden surge of excitement at the possibility of getting out from under the weight of student loans should know that Rolling Jubilee only buys and forgives debts in default. If you’re up to date on your loans, don’t expect a letter in the mail from Strike Debt. (Or, as Newsweek suggested, try to buy forgiveness with baked goods.)
The latest reckonings say that student debt totals around $1.2 trillion, which dwarfs the contributions of any single nonprofit. However, one of the goals of Strike Debt and Rolling Jubilee is to expose the way the debt market works, introducing transparency into the system and removing what they describe as the “fake morality around debt.” Moreover, the students at schools like Everest, who would otherwise be stuck paying (or failing to pay) for a near-valueless degree for years to come, can attest to the impact of the work Rolling Jubilee has done.—Jason Schneiderman