At Occupy Wall Street protests, student loan frustration

October 10, 2011

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.”


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 txtHowling Hill
howlinghill

Dear U.S. Govt: Forgive student loans. Just do it! #OWS #OccupyWallStreet #OccupySFSun Oct 09 16:33:13 via Twitter for iPhoneLinda Leavitt
WhoDat35

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 webkaydee
KaylaDoyle1

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 WebKevin Lafayette
KevinLafayette

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 webBrenda Morton
bteacher99

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 EchofonKevin P
mustango13

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 iPhonechris greene
bluecamaro

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 webKurt Schlichter
KurtSchlichter

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

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.
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