Monday, February 7, 2011

Highlighting the Headlines: What Are The Mainstream Media Outlets Saying About Student Loan Debt?

Highlighting The Headlines is part of a new bi-monthly series at AEM that will allow readers to explore relevant links about student loan debt. This series will also cover the big players in the industry, i.e., Sallie Mae, Nelnet, the for-profits, etc. This way, readers will be able to analyze how mainstream media outlets are framing the student lending crisis. Additionally, in order to save readers time, I will provide annotations to most of the links. That way, you'll be able to quickly decide if you wish to read the entire article or not. Keep in mind that your generous contributions help keep AEM, Inc. going, and allows us to expose the truth about the student lending crisis. So instead of simply being a reader, become a reading-contributor. Make a difference today and donate (you can contribute via Paypal or send checks/money orders to All Education Matters, P.O. Box 170232 Arlington, Texas 76003). Your donations keep this fledgling non-profit alive. Thanks to those of you who continue to donate on a regular basis! 

Most of the stories about student loan debt are poorly framed and allow readers to criticize and blame the debtors. For instance, when the NYT covered a story about loan forgiveness plans being canned in several states, they highlighted a Kentucky couple. The couple both enrolled to become teachers, were promised loan forgiveness, but ended up with the bill. Luckily for the couple it was just a mere $100,000. No biggie, right? The couple wasn't alone. Nearly 8,000 people were basically misled in the fine Bluegrass State. They too were told, "oh, uh, sorry. We don't have the money to pay for the education you just received. Yeah . . . uh, so you're gonna need to pay it. Thanks!"

Chances are Kentucky grossly mishandled money, and that is why the funds behind such programs dried up. Maybe if anyone bothered to investigate (hey, Feds, where are you when we need you?), maybe some pilfering would be discovered? I also hate how this messes with my images of a bucolic state filled with horseys. Sucks.

But I digress. The point is, this article allowed readers to trash the Kentucky couple. Thanks to the f--in' NYT, they took a picture of the couple inside their house, in the living room, with a flat screen TV on the wall. Somehow they thought this was a great picture to include with the article. So you can guess what people said in response.

Let's see how the outlets have been covering student loan stories in recent days (these reporters, overall, did a good job of covering the issue): 

"Chase pulls about-face on military loans: Bank ends military deferrals on student loans, then reverses decision" (Lisa Myers and Sarah Heidapour,, February 7, 2011)

Oh, you gotta love 'em! Chase originally decided to put an end to deferring loans on student loan debt for soldiers on tour. (I recently wrote about a soldier whose loans went into default while he was at war). Luckily, they decided to can the plan and have returned to the original option. How patriotic of them! You go, Chase! Way to be a good, Amurikun company!

"For-profit colleges face federal crackdown" (Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2011)

This piece begins with a story about a woman named Chelsi Miller. Ms. Miller is a single mother who lives near Salt Lake City. Everest University, a for-profit, was the key to entering the medical field. Or so Ms. Miller thought. A recruiter at Everest told her that the credits she earned there could later be applied to completing a four-year degree at the University of Utah. Well, that turned out to be wrong!

Miller, who now owes $30,000 in student loan debt, said "I got completely taken advantage of, and now I'm struggling to pay the bill for it . . . I got sold my degree by a used-car salesman. I got a lemon." I'd say she got more than just one lemon.

"For-profit colleges spend millions to beat regulation attempts" (Liz Goodwin, Yahoo!, February 4, 2011)

It's so hard to choose my favorite quote from this article about the for-profit poops!

Ain't it nice to know how much money these you-know-whats are spending on lobbying for the continued flow of federal funds? In 2010 the twits spent $6 million to ensure their continued rape of the poor, those with low-incomes, and minority students.  In addition, Goodwin writes, "for-profit colleges also spent millions on congressional candidates' campaigns in the 2009-2010 election cycle—with more than $100,000 going to GOP Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, who is now the chair of House Education Committee" Good for them and Mr. Kline. That's clearly money well spent.

Related Links 

"High Default Rate Prompts 'Major Shift' At Kaplan University" (Bonnie Washuk, Sun Journal, February 6, 2011)

"Professional jobs harder to get, college grads find" (Mike Kilen,, February 5, 2011)

"Sallie Mae, Our Favorite Gal" (Cryn Johannsen, AEM, January 20, 2011)

"Well, gee, you don't say? It seems there might be a student lending crisis! You're one smart dame."

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