Fifteen students and graduates of Corinthian Colleges, a predatory for-profit higher education company, declared last month that they will no longer pay their student loans. They demand a full discharge of all loans held by Corinthian students. The Corinthian Collective, as the strike is called, is organized by the Debt Collective, which is known for the Rolling Jubilee project that has paid off over $167 million in various kinds of debt held individuals across the United States.
According to the Debt Collective’s website, at the time of writing, 1,346 Corinthian students and graduates have signed up to join the Corinthian Collective. 751 debtors whose loans are serviced by Sallie Mae have signalled their support for a wider debt strike. The Debt Collective appears poised to launch a nationwide debt strike, contingent on obtaining enough pledges from debtors.
YDS endorses the brave defiance of the Corinthian 15. They risk formidable financial difficulties in order to launch a project which has the potential to be a positively disruptive force to American financial capitalism. Furthermore, we approve in principle of a general debt strike. If you are interested in participating in the Debt Collective’s student debt-related actions, sign up here. We caution all YDSers to carefully consider the personal risks associated with default on one’s student loans. However, if you are already in default, this may be a way to transform a personal financial calamity into a meaningful political statement.
Know that if you have student debt, you are far from alone. According to the Federal Reserve, student debt in America exceeds $1.3 trillion. That debt load is shared by 40 million Americans whose average debt load is $29,400. In addition to a profit stream for financial capital, student debt has a disciplinary effect on young people. Student debt is a ball and chain around the ankle of former students, requiring them to structure their work and lives around loan repayment. And this form of servitude fundamentally discourages political activity. As Noam Chomsky suggests, “when you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.”
The proliferation of student debt has converted higher education from a public good to a revenue stream for financial capital. We reject this attack on America’s youth and call for implementation of free, accessible higher education. To quote the Corinthian 15:
“To the Department of Education and to the lenders, servicers, and guarantee agencies who have stolen our futures, we say: enough! Erase these loans.”
Correction: Updated the student debt figure with the latest numbers from the Federal Reserve, which indicate that national student debt has grown by $100 billion since the Experian report we originally cited was released.