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Campus Overload
Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 10/10/2011

At Occupy Wall Street protests, student loan frustration


Unlike carrying a massive credit card balance, student loans have long been considered “good debt.” Students have been told that to get a good job, they need to pay thousands for a college degree.

When graduation day passes without a decent job offer, frustration builds. It continues building as recent grads move back in with their parents, work unpaid internships, settle for a job they might have gotten without a degree — and continue to pay their student loan bills each month.

That frustration is often at the heart of Occupy Wall Street protests in New York’s financial districts and cities across the country. Although the leaderless revolution does not have any stated objectives, many participants are calling for student loan forgiveness.

Last week, students were encouraged to walk out of their classes and organize rallies. A proposed list of demands written by a protester and posted on occupywallst.org calls for free college education and “immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all.”

Student loans are mentioned over and over in handwritten stories posted on the Tumblr account “We are the 99 Percent.” One student wrote: “When I graduate I will have (over) $100K in student loans, as will much of my generation.” Another wrote: “I am a freshman in college with 12k+ in student loan debts ALREADY.” A man wrote: “I am 42 years old...I owe $40,000 in student loans.”
Members of trade unions joined Occupy Wall Street protesters as they rallied in Foley Square in New York on Wednesday. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Student loan debt typically follows you forever, even if you file for bankruptcy. Debt can make it difficult for grads to enroll in graduate school or pursue a public service career , according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org.

Two-thirds of the Class of 2008, graduated with debt and an average of $24,651 in student loans. Since then, graduates have faced some of the worst job markets in recent history. In August 2010, the amount of student loan debt ($829.785 billion) outpaced credit card debt ($826.5 billion) for the first time.

Frustration with student loans and calls for help continued on Twitter:

Want to stimulate the economy #obama? Forgive student loans (it's not like any of us can find a job anyway) #occupywallst @occupybostonTue Oct 04 22:31:57 via txt

Dear U.S. Govt: Forgive student loans. Just do it! #OWS #OccupyWallStreet #OccupySFSun Oct 09 16:33:13 via Twitter for iPhone

I am a college student buried in loans, facing tuition hikes, working two jobs with an unemployed father. I am the 99% #occupywallst.Thu Oct 06 13:40:47 via web

Meanwhile, critics of the protests are using Twitter to question why college students and recent grads are gathering around an attack on Wall Street when college administrators were the ones who set their tuition rates. Others say forgiving student loans in any way would be unfair to those who did not take on debt to get a degree. (There are also a lot of attacks on students who decided to major in things like sociology, English or women’s studies.)

I laugh whenever anybody talks #ows student loans to get humanities degree, mountain of weed, and you are exactly where you deserve to be.Sat Oct 08 16:10:08 via Mobile Web

I have a career, rent an apartment, use public transportation, and will in 2 years finish repaying student loans. What's your excuse, #OWS?Mon Oct 10 05:48:55 via web

From what I've seen, the best bet for #OWS to get rid of their student loans is to demand a refund from the colleges that miseducated them.Mon Oct 10 01:36:09 via Echofon

Student at #OccupyWallSt boohooing about HIS student loans....waaaa. Shoulda picked up a weapon and served... #GIbill. #justsayinWed Oct 05 21:13:41 via Twitter for iPhone

I am a Conservative: Pity Level for goofs who ran up 100K in student loans getting that sociology degree -- 0/10. #Caring #OccupyWallStFri Oct 07 20:09:37 via web

What do you think? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below, on Twitter or Facebook.

By  |  12:26 PM ET, 10/10/2011

 
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