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I'm on my way to the Senate chamber right now for the debate on the Higher Education Bill, which addresses the critical gap in financial aid that prevents vast numbers of students from seeking a college education.

Cross posted at Committee for a Democratic Majority and Blue Mass Group

There's certainly a lot to discuss about last night's Senate debate and the larger strategy of how we end this war in Iraq, but there's something else happening today that you should know about.

I'm on my way to the Senate chamber right now for the debate on the Higher Education Bill, which addresses the critical gap in financial aid that prevents vast numbers of students from seeking a college education. The bill I'm supporting will increase opportunities for college by:

   * Raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100 next year and to $5,400 by 2011.
   * Increasing the income level that qualifies students for the maximum Pell Grant.
   * Capping student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income.
   * Providing student loan forgiveness for students who choose public service careers.
   * Holding colleges more accountable for rising costs, by publicizing colleges whose increased costs are excessive.
   * Giving students and parents objective data about the cost of college.
   * Ending abuses by banks and other lenders in the student loan system.

Recent investigations have uncovered misbehavior by the lending industry, often in cahoots with colleges, at the expense of students. Federal law is intended to protect students by guaranteeing that loans must help students, not produce excessive profits for lenders.

Senate Democrats are addressing the student loan crisis -- but we need your help to make sure that the Higher Education Bill is enacted into law. We can't let Senate Republicans block action on this bill the same way they're blocking legislation to end the war.
College education is more important than ever. It’s time to throw the money-lenders out of the temple of higher education.

One way you can help is to illustrate this problem for the rest of our community.  Leave your own student loan horror stories below, so that everyone can understand just how badly broken the current system is. When people know the facts, they’ll demand reform, and millions of students will benefit.  

Thank you for your attention and support.

Originally posted to Senator Edward M Kennedy on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good for you Senator! (41+ / 0-)

    And keep givin them hell!

    You can be as free as you want, so long as Republicans control birth, death, sex and marriage. And whose vote counts.

    by ultrageek on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:23:24 PM PDT

  •  Good luck Senator Kennedy! (29+ / 0-)

    You're going to need it with the crowd of obstructionist repubs you have to deal with in the Senate.

    Hopefully you can shame them into doing the right thing.

    "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

    by MichiganGirl on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:23:41 PM PDT

  •  As a mother of college kids (29+ / 0-)

    and kids who will be attending college, I hope that we can start to get a handle on this.  This is possibly the biggest issue facing many families.  Aid has not kept up with rising tuition costs or compensated enough for the stagnating wages of parents trying to help their kids with college expenses.

    •  Me too (27+ / 0-)

      I have 3 kids. The oldest was at Indiana University for a year and a half but can't continue until the money situation is under control. I am pretty low income as a self employed single Mom, and he's an honor diploma student, and we got peanuts. And the bank loan arranged through IU? Guess what -- that school, too, was on the Sallie Mae gravy train.

      In 1972, I got generous scholarships, and government backed loans that were not predatory. I hold a bachelors and masters -- and I paid for my own education, and paid back every cent of those loans. I was happy to do so -- that's when things seemed to work.

      Why is my son now home instead of getting ready to start a new semester? I got afraid. Afraid that my son would be deeply in debt, and me as well, for a degree made worthless as the global warming deniers, warmongers, and crooks in the White House screw things up so badly the system collapses anyway.

      We have little hope out here right now. But your diary represents a sliver of sunshine in the jail cell that is "living in America."

      Thank you, Senator. We need help.

      "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

      by JuliaAnn on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:57:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm so tired of my kids (19+ / 0-)

        having to make really sad choices.  Sadly, they can't think about what it is they would really like to do, their choices are dictated by how much money they'll need to borrow and what kind of job they'll need in order to justify the expense.  

        I'm in Ohio...our new governor just capped tuition  increases, but not other expenses such as room and board.  Still leaves kids paying almost $10,000/yr in tuition alone at a state university.  My cousin's daughter just graduated this spring with a whopping $88,000 in loans for a bachelor's degree.

        Its those of us in the middle who are hurting...sorry, but I just don't have nearly $100,000 per child to hand out for college expenses.  There is no way we could have saved such amounts.  We're doing what we can to help and thankfully, we live in a city in which our kids can live at home and commute to several colleges and universities.  

      •  brava juliaann (7+ / 0-)

        something is wrong with our economy!

        i too have three kids, dear senator, 16, 18 and 20.  when i went to city college in '74, my tuition was $300 per year.  then, my first job paid 18k a year.

        why is the same college tuition now $4000/yr., but the average first job's yearly salary still 18k?

        fuzzy math, f

      •  What happened to the Great Society? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JuliaAnn, Leap Year

        When I graduated from high school in 1966, pretty much any American who had the ability and was willing to do the work could get a college education, thanks to Great Society programs. At the state university, I paid $50 a semester for tuition and fees and another $50 for (used) books. A part-time job and roommates made living expenses doable. Private colleges might have required rich parents, debt, or a scholarship, but the public state university systems made sure all the rest of us could go to college.

        Even when I started grad school in '83, tuition was only a few hundred dollars a semester.

        Those days are long gone. We need to get back to the simple idea that making sure that as many people who want and need a college education can get one benefits us all. (And btw, not every career requires a college education and it would be a really good idea if there were good training, mentoring, apprenticeship programs for those careers too.)

        I think most older people - unless and until they have a kid who wants to go to college - have no idea how bad it's gotten. At UT Austin it's now about $4000/semester - that's $32,000 for eight semesters at a state university. And doesn't include books, which have also become a total rip-off.

        Oh, and our Republican Gov. Goodhair just vetoed $154 million for community colleges. Can't let the common folk try that route if they can't afford the university.

        The only thing Republicans do well is take our tax dollars and transfer them to the rich, instead of providing the services we thought we were paying for.

        by Janet Strange on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:53:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Me, too (11+ / 0-)

      One kid just graduated with about 10,000 in loans.

      The next is in her junior year, and will probably accumulate 20,000 in loans, because her college's financial aid package was worse...and she has more in Stafford rather than Perkins loans, which had better terms.

      Even with aid, the portion we have to pay is simply killing us. Forget saving for retirement. It's all gone and we're piling on debt.

      I really hope the bill passes...without being watered down.

      It's unconscionable that these loan companies and colleges are making money off the kids who can least afford it and most need the education to be able to make it into the fast-vanishing middle class.

      "Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise." David Mamet

      by coral on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:26:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm a student loan success story (11+ / 0-)

      I come from humble lower-middle class working parents, one generation removed from the Dust Bowl. They put aside no money to educate their kids -- just raising them was all they could manage.  I went to good California community colleges and lived at home for my first two years of basic college requirements, then entered the University of California and paid $225 a quarter for an excellent undergraduate education.

      I didn't get into med school the first time I applied -- most competitive year ever -- and went to work as a researcher for three years at another world-class UC campus, using my college biochem degree.  Was able to put away a fair amount of money.

      I then reapplied and got into med school, and for two years lived of subsidized student loans at 3 and 4% interest.  (Savings were sheltered in my sister's name.)  Then a Republican was elected president, student loan interest rates shot up to 12%, and I was fortunate enough to minimize borrowing by living off my savings.

      I'm 51, and that Republican president was Ronald Reagan.  If I were any younger I probably wouldn't be a doctor today, with 20 years of delivering care behind me, half of them in a community health center.

      Why can't kids today have the opportunities I had, Senator Kennedy?

      Just when you think they can't get any worse, you're not surprised to learn you were wrong.

      by Dallasdoc on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:25:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Congratulations on your success. (5+ / 0-)

        Its a true American success story...well, the America that once was.  I know many people who have stories remarkably like yours...we came from a time when it was literally possible to work one's way through college.  My husband and I both pieced together educations in this way.  

        And personally, I want to know that the doctors I see are practicing medicine because they want to be doing so...not because its the only way they have to pay off student loans.  I actually know one such doctor.  Don't get me wrong...she's certainly qualified and gives good patient care, but she's also very up front in saying that they only reason she's still in the field is because she has massive loans still hanging over her head.  

      •  I think you are a California (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        education success story.  Those opportunities were not/are not available to people in other parts of the country.

        •  They're not as available in CA anymore, I hear (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Friend of the court, Lujane

          Community colleges in CA used to be more like colleges than simply voc/tech schools, as they are in many other states.  I know UC prices have gone up quite a bit, and the cheap 3 and 4% national loans have gone the way of the dodo.

          Today I'd never have the kind of opportunities I had in the 1970's, not without crushing debt.  I'd have had to go into a highly-paid specialty to pay off those debts, rather than primary care which is my true love.  Maybe that's why primary care doctors are getting very hard to find.

          Just when you think they can't get any worse, you're not surprised to learn you were wrong.

          by Dallasdoc on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:29:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You answered your own question, Doc. (7+ / 0-)

        Why can't kids today have the opportunities I had, Senator Kennedy?

        a Republican was elected president

        Res ipsa loquitur.

        (1) D.I.E.B.O.L.D.: Decisive In Elections By Ousting Liberal Democrats.
        (2) R.A.T.S.: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia.
        (3) -8.75, -8.10

        by Archangel on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:56:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  If you really can't let the Republicans block it (29+ / 0-)

    ... make them filibuster.

    Republican Senators Filibuster Student Loan Reform

    Republican Senators Filibuster Child Healthcare

    Republican Senators Filibuster Habeas Corpus Bill


    Now, I can't guarantee that headlines like that will help you win the favor of the American public....

  •  The hooror story would be: (12+ / 0-)

    Letting another worthy piece of legislation be vetoed by an incompetent president.
    We need veto proof support here.
    Thank You Senator Kennedy

  •  How is "discretionary income" determined? (8+ / 0-)

    Capping student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income.

    That could get slippery very quickly.

    Thank you for your work on this issue, Senator.

    jotter's Lists of High Impact Diaries: daily and weekly archives (bring your own bendy straws)

    by sele on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:25:23 PM PDT

  •  SALUTE and thanks for helping the college (9+ / 0-)

    students of this nation,  please vote for the Gulf War research act when it comes up for a vote this week or next  thanks

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step"

    by testvet6778 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:25:37 PM PDT

  •  Thank you Senator Kennedy (14+ / 0-)

    You have always been there for those who don't have a voice in power.

    "I have not yet begun to fight" --John Paul Jones, Father of the United States Navy

    by Dave Montoya on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:26:21 PM PDT

  •  Senator, (10+ / 0-)

    We can always count on you.

    Help make history - HILLARY in 2008!

    by Caldonia on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:27:00 PM PDT

  •  i've spent the day ... (33+ / 0-)

    ... deciding whether to have health insurance or make student loan payments.

    as it is, the student loan system has bankrupted me and, by doing what i thought was an honorable thing and getting an education, i have instead become an indentured servant who will never have a savings account or a retirement or a vacation.

    and if i ever get sick, i may as well just shoot myself.

    this is what the student loan industry has wreaked.

  •  Thanks for all you are doing and (7+ / 0-)

    have done your entire life to fight to build a decent America, Senator Kennedy.

    "We've got to save America from this President." John Edwards 4/3/07

    by TomP on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:28:48 PM PDT

  •  Hi Senator Kennedy (17+ / 0-)

    I've been watching you today on C-Span and have read the house version of this bill fairly carefully. While I think it is a huge step in the right direction for future students, I am wondering about students who have debt from loans that were issued prior to 2006 (which is the earliest date I could find in the text), I am a member of this group and can't seem to find anything that addresses this.

    Will there be any upcoming relief for holders of such loans?

    What impact do you suppose taking the lenders' subsidies away will have on the way that they handle our loans (ones that we currently have)?

    Will any of the "public service" forgiveness options be available to us? The ones available to me right now require that I work for 5 years and then only get $5000 forgiven (that would be about the amount of capitalized interest that accrued...not a whole lot of help).

    Has anyone thought of reducing the interest rate that these lenders can charge? 8.25% is not much of a cap these days...$$ in a money market certificate makes 1/2 that, if I'm lucky...

    Thank you (or your staffers) for you thoughts on these questions.

    •  Good questions, (9+ / 0-)

      that I would also like to know the answers to.  My husband has a lot of debt from before 2006; I do to, and am currently adding on more without having any clue how we're going to pay for it all.  I already have about 4 different jobs, and I'm assuming I'll have to get another when I finish college just to afford our combined loan payments.  

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:45:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks! I hope we get some! :) (6+ / 0-)

        I think that the no more than 15% of discretionary income thing would be awesome!

        Dad put me through undergrad [his deal was 4 years and then I'm done] and I got myself though a masters degree with no student loans [I actually lived off of my teaching stipend of $786/month -- can you believe that?! And that was in 87-89], but like an idiot, after 8 years, I decided to go back for a Ph.D. in....wait for it, education! Now my loans [in combo with my hubbies] are almost 100K (and that's the PRINCIPAL!  GAK!)

        I think my major problem with finishing my dissertation (I have been ABD for 3 years) is that the student loan payment is going to CRIPPLE us (we have 2 kids and declared bankruptcy in '05 right before the new law went through, but of course, student loans cannot be added in anymore....)

        So I feel you -- and I hope to hell we get an answer or two, and if not, well, we'll be the most educated people living in 'fridge boxes that the world has ever seen!

        •  You are worse off than me, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          since I don't have any kids (nor do I plan to).  All I can do is shake my head in sympathy.

          The worst part for me is that I don't know if I'll still have my best-paying job for even another month, let alone the many years it's going to take me to pay back my loans....

          But that's another beast altogether.  Good luck to you, and I really hope something happens soon that makes this a lot better for all of us.

          Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

          by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:12:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  thanks, and to you too! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and that's really the thing too -- there is no stability at this point -- the only thing that you know will be permanent is your 30 year loan repayment, everything else can disappear out from under you in a heartbeat.

    •  And What About Bankruptcy Reform? (17+ / 0-)

      If you want to have a serious effect on out-of-control rising costs of education, and out-of-control lending, you've got to create some disincentives to spending.  

      I'm sorry, but publishing "excessive increases" in costs of education as a way to create negative pressure on colleges to reduce increased fees is simply not going to work.  There is simply too much money at stake.  

      The current bankruptcy law on student loans is excessively harsh.  In order to discharge a student loan in BK, a debtor must prove not merely hardship, but "undue" hardship, which all but guarantees that student loans are non-dischargable under virtually any circumstances.  

      If you really want to create a disincentive, and hit rising college costs, take away the guarantee that student loans will always, always be repaid.  There is no dis-incentive to a lender like the potential loss of the loan (along with the interest).  This will force lenders to tighten their standards, which will in turn result in less lending, which in turn will put pressure on colleges and universities to keep their tuition and costs more affordable.  

      I see nothing else in your proposal that addresses this most basic issue; the education loan "bubble," which is akin to the sub-prime mortgage bubble.  Only, unlike sub-prime mortgages, you can't go bankrupt on an overly expensive education.  

      And yes, I know that these types of loans open doors (they did for me) and that lenders should have some guarantee of return for most of these loans; but you could also cap the amount of total interest that a lender could charge, at say, 200% of the original loan amount.  Many of these loans for graduate schools have 30 year repayment periods, and I know that I for one receive multiple offers to consolidate or refinance my loans every week; on terms that are rather reminiscent of pay-day loans, frankly.  

      You can't address the cost of college if you won't address the loose credit problem.  

      "Win some, Lose some . . . and then there's that little known 3rd category." Al Gore, January 9th, 2007.

      by Jbearlaw on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:59:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm definitely interested in these questions too (4+ / 0-)

      All of my husband's and my student loans were issued before 2006.  We also got really screwed, because we graduated just after they upped the interests rates a WHOLE lot, and thus weren't able to consolidate at a lower rate.  He's got a lot more debt than I have, and I'm fortunate in the sense that I'm in graduate school and thus don't have to be paying on it right now, but's a huge monthly expense for us.  I remember my parents telling me about how, when they were in college, they were actually able to make enough interest on the student loan overage they put in the bank to help pay back the loan.  It's nothing like that can't get ahead, because even if you do make enough money to put it in a savings account or CD or something, the interest you make on it is nowhere near as high as the interest on the loans.

      So yes, while I'm definitely excited to hear that we're looking to fix the student loan system for the people who have yet to enter it, what can be done to help those of us who are already burdened?

  •  Can we just retake the HEA spending the GOPer's (4+ / 0-)

    kidnapped to the discretionary side of the budget back to the mandatory side and pass the rest of the damn HEA reauthorization already!

    "I have not and will not announce a time-table for our withdrawl." Richard Nixon 11/3/1969

    by duckhunter on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:30:39 PM PDT

  •  Yes Yes Yes! (6+ / 0-)

    All of the ideas you posted are great, just so you know, my brother graduated college back in 1999, and is still paying his loans off.

    The media cares more about Paris Hilton then they do about our soldiers. "Edwards 2008"

    by sarahlane on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:32:30 PM PDT

  •  I saw you on the Senate floor earlier today (10+ / 0-)

    I really liked what you said, especially regarding the loan forgiveness programs. Similar programs helped my mom go to grad school, and after graduation she was able to go into the rural schools back here in the South and give back to her community. These programs probably won't be much help to me, but I know many folks whose lives would be really helped.

    Life to you is a dashing and bold adventure. -4.48, -4.56

    by pseudopod on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:33:53 PM PDT

  •  i am tired of the lies (11+ / 0-)

    for one from the loan industry.  i almost lost my REAL loan information due to all the fakes.  if you are a college student, then you get about at least a couple URGENT reply requested letters, or they sometimes say "PAST DUE" etc, that are basically sales pitches.

    and i am tired of help sites that turn out to by JP Morgan.  seriously.

    •  I had problems with this also, the fakes. (3+ / 0-)

      There were so many fakes coming through I neglected acting in a timely fashion on the actual piece of mail that was real (thinking it was another fake)!  I'm chronically overwhelmed by paperwork.  I don't think I'm alone.

      Yes, stop the deception.  I wish the American people would get in the game because Senator Kennedy can't do it alone, I venture to say.

  •  Thank You! (7+ / 0-)

    as a parent with kids...sending them off to college and being able to pay for it is something I fear most!

    Also, it would be good to help out those with already existing debt.  It took me nearly ten years to pay off my student loan debts.  Ten long years.  and that was many years ago.

    I can only imagine what it is like trying to pay off that now.  

    Bush Sucks. 'nuf said.

    by Lobsters on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:41:55 PM PDT

  •  Good. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:44:08 PM PDT

  •  My son went to college on student loans. (16+ / 0-)

    When he finished his cost was 20,000 dollars in student loans. He taught school for 3 years in NC where wages were low for teachers. He asked for extensions and got them. He finally came home and started his own business. He still cannot afford to make these payments yet. This is his last year for defferments. The interest on the loans is now put the loans up to 40,000 dollars. He is really depressed about this. I pray you can get this through Senator without a veto from bush. I wish you would just Impeach him and give us our Country back.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:45:28 PM PDT

  •  Thank You Senator (3+ / 0-)

    watched you this morning on CSPAN... clear and right to the point. I watched most of the night and all I can say is......I am proud of the Democratic party today.

    It's important to save the frog. - Al Gore.....WE ARE THE FROG AL!!!...Gore/Clark 08 a Return to Reason!!!

    by jigsaw68 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:47:03 PM PDT

  •  Greetings, Sen. Kennedy... (11+ / 0-)

    I have always looked up to you.

    I am a 43-year old woman who is looking to rebuild her life after losing her career in the Dot-Com bust of 2000. I am finishing my baccalaureate in psychology at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA. I now owe something like $45,000 in student loans, and I haven't even gone on to grad school yet.

    I have a very strong desire to get either my Masters in Social Work (my first choice) or a Masters in Psychology and provide mental health services to low-income, underserved persons. I don't want to have my own practice. If I wound up working for the County, or in a non-profit, that would make me the happiest woman in the world. I have less than half my life left: I want to make the rest of it count.

    However, I fear I will be burdened with student loans for the rest of my life. This almost scares me worse than the FUBARed health care system in this country and the way Bush wasted the good will of the world after 9/11 on a fool's errand in Iraq.

    The Old Testament speaks of an old Israelite custom called the "Year of Jubilee." I think the time has come to call a Student Loan Year of Jubilee. Provide more routes to student loan forgiveness for those who will be indentured servants for most, if not all, of the rest of their lives. Please. Help us.

    New frame: they aren't pro-life, they are advocates of forced childbearing.
    Impeach the R.A.T.S.: Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia!

    by Snakes on a White House on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:47:37 PM PDT

  •  It's a step in the right direction, but... (15+ / 0-)'s not enough. For instance, a $300 increase in the maximum Pell Grant over three years is a drop in the bucket compared to the rate at which tuition increases from year to year. And capping my payments at 15% of discretionary income would mean I'd be paying off my loans until I'm about Methuselah's age.

    And I'm far better off than many of my friends.

    This will help, but we need more. And once the war in Iraq is ended, some of the $80-100 billion a year we're wasting on it could help a whole lot more.

  •  Welcome Senator. (3+ / 0-)

    As a Student, I thank you. There is still a lot of work to be done.

  •  A woman I work with has a son who just (9+ / 0-)

    finished going to chef school.  He has a $50,000 student loan with 16% interest.  He would have more discretionary income if he were fliping burgers at a Mc Grease Pit.

  •  Forgive all outstanding student loan debt. (14+ / 0-)

    It would help more people than a middle class tax cut and would probably cost about the same.  It would also help people who never see the benefits of tax cuts (single, childless, renters, etc).  I guarantee you it would stimulate the economy faster and more significantly than any other stimulus package.

  •  Paying back $50,000 on $23,000 principle (18+ / 0-)

    many, MANY students are faced with this scenario after not finding adequate work in their chosen field.

    What, Senator Kennedy, are you proposing that will provide relief for these hard working former students?    There aren't enough public sector jobs to go around.

    •  I thought I was the only one! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And my degree is in theatre. You can bet I'll be paying that $225 a month for the next 20 years. And that's with an extremely low rate (4.25%). How the hell does this happen?

      Conservatives: Pro-life from conception to birth.

      by soprano13 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:14:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep up the good work (5+ / 0-)

    on this issue; it's important.

    However, I'd suggest moving your last bullet point

    Ending abuses by banks and other lenders in the student loan system

    up to the top of the list; the abuses do more damage than anything else.

    I faxed my Senators (Dole & Burr) today asking for their support.  If they surprise me, be sure and thank them!

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." President John F. Kennedy

    by MsWings on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:54:33 PM PDT

  •  Yes, help, please! (8+ / 0-)

    My 23 year old son is strapped with more than $60,000 in loans that both he and I took out, at 6.5% interest.

    My 20 year old daughter is piling up the debt even as we speak and will own more than $40,000 for a state school.

    We need help! Lower interest rates, more grants for the middle class.

    Thanks for everything you do, Senator.

    Wes Clark + anyone 2008

    by LuLu on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:54:46 PM PDT

    •  With all due respect (0+ / 0-)

      How did you and your son deem it in your best interest to take out $60,000 in loans?  or $40,000 for a state school for your daughter?  
      It makes me so angry that somehow, we've gotten the idea that our kids deserve more than we can afford, no matter what.  Take for example the high school in our mid sized town.  Somehow, it became the norm for all kids to drive spiffy new cars, even if their parents couldn't afford them.  There were perfectly serviceable used cars out there, but if you drove them?...damn, you were just going no where.
       Not to judge you, LuLu, and if it sounds that way, please forgive me.  But as someone who has put two children through both a state university and a private university, it makes me crazy to read about kids so far in debt that it takes decades to work their way out.  Is the degree from an ivy league college really worth it?

      ...each day the dread of learning who has fallen, who will not return from this terrible war.

      by althea in il on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:55:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please address the topic of impeachment. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, m00nchild, keikekaze

    Thank you.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge - Einstein

    Check out the Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:56:09 PM PDT

  •  Thank you, Senator Kennedy.......... (3+ / 0-)

    .........for looking out for the people who are most in need, IE, those who have been badly neglected by the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress.

    I'm one of your constituents, and I thank you for your efforts to save America and turn around the mess our country is in right now.

    We desperately need your voice of reason, Senator.

    Impeach.....before it's too late.

    by Ekaterin on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:56:50 PM PDT

  •  My wife and I couldn't go to college today (10+ / 0-)

    under the same circumstances we went in the 70's.

    We simply couldn't afford it.

    That said, coming from lower middle class families, it still took 15 years to pay off our loans - and we both worked while in school.  Keep in mind that this was when student loans were at relatively low interest rates.

    Thank God we've done relatively well in life - and my parents died without running through everything they saved.  We can afford to pay for our children's college.  Too many can't.

    And everyone says education is the key to your future?!?   At today's interest rates it's more like a future of indentured servitude.

    And just how in hell did student loan rates GO UP?????  (along with tuitions that greatly outpaced inflation).     Keep in mind that inflation in the 70's and 80's was pretty intense but our loan rates were still around 5%.

    •  damn, 15 years! (3+ / 0-)

      that would be doable!  As it is, I consider my loans my life insurance policy [no way in hell with the way things are now I could pay them all off unless I lived to be about 113]. That's why I haven't consolidated mine with my husband's -- if he and the kids have nothing else, should I happen to kick first, at least they won't have to pay $500 for my loans.....unless of course, they change the law to say that even when you die, these loans aren't forgiven....

  •  Income requirements (8+ / 0-)

    I was denied financial aid based on my Father's income.  Unfortunately, I was under 24 when I was attending most of my college.  The rules at the time were that if a student is under 24, then the student's and parents' income must be considered when assessing student need for financial aid.  

    I had virtually no contact with my Father, and my Mother died when I was young.  The money from my Mother's SS death benefits went into my Dad's wine jug, his bong, and on his mirror and into his nose.  There was no SS benefit left for me.  

    I was denied Pell Grants when I entered the University of Washington.  The results of that were the I worked 50 hours a week during my undergraduate years, just to avoid going deeply into debt during those two years.  

    I applied for a hardship waiver, but was denied on that as well.  

    Please, Please figure out a way to get students like me access to the aid that is so important.  

    I regard the right to embarrass each other one of the cherished parts of American democracy. -Barney Frank

    by otto on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 03:58:45 PM PDT

    •  Wait, totally unclear (6+ / 0-)

      I was denied Pell Grants based on my Father's income, not on my income.  My Father didn't give me one stinking penny for college.  

      That's just unfair. If I'm on my own, the determination for my need should be based on my income, not my absent parent.

      I regard the right to embarrass each other one of the cherished parts of American democracy. -Barney Frank

      by otto on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:03:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i have a very similar problem (4+ / 0-)

        my father was in debt as a medical doctor bc private insurance requires doctors to pay entirely tooo much for malpractice ins. and bush has slashed medicare severely for seeing elderly patients has nearly driven him to bankruptcy.  He has also married a greedy woman..actually she's a huge republican..who spends stupidly on stupid crap in a stupid way because she's stupid.  My divorced mother is a nurse practitioner and even she has to work two jobs and is thinking about a third job just to help me pay for current college and living expenses and I work too!  Higher education has become a scam in this country.  I hope congress fixes this problem, we shouldn't have to go into severe debt because of the foolish decisions of our parents or republicans. or

        by siamesewonka on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:32:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Can your father claim that you aren't a dependent (4+ / 0-)

        That is the way it was back in the late 70's.
        Of course he would have to give them copies of tax returns...
        Just asking.

    •  I had the same problem, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      though slightly different circumstances.  While I had contact with my father, he was absolutely useless for any sort of monetary aid, and I even got audited my first year of college because he lied on the forms about his income that I had to submit.  The only way I managed to go back to school like I did when I was 23 was that I got married and therefore could finally be considered independent.

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 07:54:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You Senator (4+ / 0-)

    This is a huge issue.

    Kids shouldn't have to hock their future just to get an education.

  •  Loan forgiveness for public service... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, elie, Snakes on a White House

    how is that for an idea. Something has to be better than the current system. Education should be a right... not a privilege.

    It's important to save the frog. - Al Gore.....WE ARE THE FROG AL!!!...Gore/Clark 08 a Return to Reason!!!

    by jigsaw68 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:04:35 PM PDT

  •  And a new G.I. Bill (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    superfly, tryptamine, Bugsby, Leap Year

    Let's wipe out the student loan debt from all of our vets, or make sure they get a full ride scholarship if they haven't been to school yet.

    In addition to finding ways to make higher ed more affordable for all Americans, which we also need to do.

    Also, here is a slightly radical idea: If free higher ed for all Americans is too much to ask (I think that's where we should be going, eventually), then how about using scholarships to encourage families. In Europe, they do a lot to encourage people to have children, to try to keep fecundity at a level that maintains the population. How about we cover 40% of the college costs for an only child, 70% for couples with two children, and full scholarships for couples who raise three or more children?

    45% of Americans for impeachment of George Bush, 54% for Dick Cheney. ARG Poll

    by dconrad on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:05:44 PM PDT

    •  I'm with you on the GI Bill (4+ / 0-)

      but I'd change your proposal for scholarships to encourage fecundity. With the world population out of control, there should be incentives for those who limit themselves to one or two children, rather than rewarding those with larger families. IMHO

      In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost at sea.

      by Bugsby on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:36:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Population is a major issue (0+ / 0-)

        But I'm just talking about incentives to raise it up to a level where the population is maintained (which is about 2.1 children per couple, as some people don't have kids, or even get married). There are a lot of European nations that have seen their populations declining, and are struggling to get from, like, 1.3 kids per couple up to even close to 2 per. France is doing the best at this, for now. They make up for it with immigration.

        And that's fine for now, since there are lots of third-world places which have high birth rates, and we can import people from there (although, as you know, that's a bit of a sore point for some people). But it's been pretty consistent that as standard of living and rights of women rises, a country's birth rate falls until it no longer maintains the level of the population. We want all those third world places to improve their standard of living, but if we ever succeed in doing that, we'll have another problem.

        So, thinking really long term here, we need to find the levers that affect birth rate in industrialized nations, and then set them to maintain the population, and get the standard of living up in all those third-world countries, and then, adjust the birth rate downward for a couple of centuries to get the world population down to about 3-4 billion, and then adjust it upward again to maintain that.

        Anyway, I'm rambling, and this is completely off-topic for this diary. But that's what I was thinking of, above. These policies also promote a more humane society and fight poverty, I think. Here are some links:

        As Europe Grows Grayer, France Devises a Baby Boom

        Coalition tackles Germany's falling birth rate

        Low birth rate prompts Spain to approve child bonus

        45% of Americans for impeachment of George Bush, 54% for Dick Cheney. ARG Poll

        by dconrad on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 09:41:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a horror story... (19+ / 0-)

    So, I just recently graduated and started my first salary job, unfortunately my student loans are going to be due soon.  When I first started college I paid 200 a semester in tuition.  My last semester I paid over 2500 out of pocket.  This was not including rent, food, and books and supplies which averaged about 400 a semester, sometimes as high as 800.  I didn't have health insurance for my last year, so medical costs were out of pocket too.  I worked all year round, I haven't had a car for over 5 years now (getting to work is a real treat) and still owe 38,000 in loans, plus credit card debt.  My monthly loan payments are going to be more than my rent, thanks to having to take out private source loans to cover what federal loans and grants would not.  

    I've been poor my whole life and I thought hard work and an education would be my ticket out.  Too bad I'm going to be paying this off for the next 30 years.  I was going to go to graduate school, but I can't even afford to physically move anywhere.  Hell, I can't even buy myself a new pair of jeans.  It's pathetic what students who need the help have to go through just to try and better themselves.  I've had parents tell me they worked during the summers and that covered everything.  That would have been heaven for me.  Also, did you know to get food stamps as a full time student you also need to be working 20 hrs a week?  A full time and a part time job just to get help buying food?  There are only 24 hrs in a day you know.    

    I did everything everyone told me to do to succeed, and I never gave up but every time I think I'm almost there the finish line moves.  Now I'm swimming in debt before I even start my life.  This is a real problem, and a serious one.  Something needs to drastically change.  And please, think about those of us who have been unfortunate enough to go to college while Bush was in office.  There's an entire generation of students just like me who desperately need help.    

    •  I just want to tell you that (8+ / 0-)

      things will get better. You sound like me when I was about 22. I paid off my student loans (about 30k) in 2005, and I am 33 now so it took about 10 years. You will at some point in your life write that last check, and you may not even be that old! I know 15 years sounds like forever, but it flies by too fast.

      keep your chin up, pay extra when you can, be diligent, and NEVER be afraid to ask for a raise. The raises are what make things easier as time goes on. just seems like our parents had it SO much easier. Don't get me started on home ownership, either. Things have changed so much.

      I'm just a simple hyperchicken from a backwoods asteroid. Relentless!

      by ablington on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:46:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Victory Coffee, I nominate you for best narrative (9+ / 0-)

      I'm swimming in debt before I even start my life.

      Our son is struggling with a situation so much like yours that I wanted to weep when I read your story. The food stamp restrictions are an outrage!

      Rising debt, incredible stress, no money for decent food, grueling hours of study and a work schedule that hardly leaves enough time for sleep. Is it any wonder that college students are very often depressed and prone to illness? It shouldn't have to be so hard. If it gets any harder, who but the rich will bother with higher education?

      I'll keep a good thought for you.

      In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost at sea.

      by Bugsby on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:48:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Back to the Future (6+ / 0-)

        If it gets any harder, who but the rich will bother with higher education?

        This is the way it was before World War II and the GI Bill, which made it possible for many returning veterans to go to colleges.  Colleges were swamped with new students who would otherwise, without the GIBill, never have been able to go to college.

        Before the GI Bill, "working class" people did not go to college, with few exceptions.

        In my grandparents generation, it was not unusual for very smart, well read, articulate, hard working, talented and accomplished people to lack a college education.  Some people say high school was so good in those days, that you didn't really need a college education, but I think it was more that college wasn't accessible or affordable for most people.  Of course in those days, racism and other types of bigotry also kept people out of colleges.

      •  Having to work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        every moment that you're not in school also makes it nearly impossible to do enough homework (or any at all), which makes that expensive education largely pointless.

        Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

        by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 07:59:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hang in there (3+ / 0-)

      Your in a tough situation for sure.  Your point about the finish line moving is so true, definitely for this generation, but I think it goes back a generation.  In the late 70s when I first went to college, financial aid was flowing like water, then the college tuition increases started to go through the roof and financial aid never kept up through the 1980s.  Now for my kids going through college is just a nightmare financially.  You did a good job of describing the difficulties.  Linking the situtation to the George Bush presidency is very interesting--you would think he would have some understanding (if not sympathy for those less fortunate than himself) of this situation since his own daughters were so recently in college.   I doubt they have to worry about paying back college loans, but maybe some of their friends from school do.  Well, maybe not.  

    •  Story of our generation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, Victory Coffee

      You absolutely nailed it with this:

      I did everything everyone told me to do to succeed, and I never gave up but every time I think I'm almost there the finish line moves.

      That's something I think all of us under 35 have experienced. We did exactly what we were told we should do, and are facing a massive financial handicap as we embark upon our lives, one that no other generation currently alive in the US has had to face. It's a truly massive problem and I don't see a single Democrat doing anything about it - Kennedy's proposals are slight fixes around the edges of the problem.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:20:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A generational problem (5+ / 0-)

        I think that a lot of this problem is because so many older people in this country don't actually care about younger people.  It is as if they got old so fast, they didn't even realize that a new generation of young people was coming up behind them.  The greed of this older generation is staggering.  I guess I grew up at the younger end of the baby boom and listened to this generation screaming about their generation, and they haven't stopped.  When they were young people, it was war against their parents generation, now it's like they're at war with their children and grandchildren's generation.  Think about it--who is benefitting from this outrageous college lending scandal?

        •  I think it's this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jjellin, Victory Coffee

          Most of those older generations grew up, or came of age, believing that post-1945 American society rewarded hard work. That if you did that, played by the rules, got good grades, etc, then you'd be fine. We were certainly taught this, overtly and subtly, growing up in the 1980s and 1990s (as I did).

          But at the same time, they also believed that they were owed certain things - low taxes among them. Nevermind the fact that their own college educations and home mortgages and interstate freeways were subsidized by other folks' taxes. When in the 1980s and 1990s it came time for these folks to pay their fair share, they refused. And many still do. They delude themselves into thinking that higher taxes aren't needed, and that if we young people do those things I described just now, we'd be fine anyway.

          Well, we're not, but many in those older generations (by no means all, as older Kossacks prove) are too far gone. They've settled into their ways, believing that low taxes and spending cuts and offshoring jobs and cutting our school services and jacking up our tuitions and screwing us with loans is all going to work out somehow.

          They're either totally ignorant of what we face, or belittling of it - and yet still expect us to subsidize them in their old age.

          Which we'll happily do. But we're going to ask for some things in return.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:26:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I hate to say this, but (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eugene, Victory Coffee

            That if you did that, played by the rules, got good grades, etc, then you'd be fine. We were certainly taught this, overtly and subtly, growing up in the 1980s and 1990s (as I did).

            I think you were being set up by some pretty self-serving people.  All the no-nos of today were things people did all the time in the 1960s and 70s.  bike helmuts??   safe sex??  are you kidding me?  It is like a holier than thou attitude that is intended to get people focused on crossing their t's and dotting their i's while they're being ripped off and don't know it.  Sadly it will probably be another generation before people wake up.  (And by then we'll be lucky if we're not tied to a power wheel walking in circles all day long to run the the computer equipment for some hedge fund manager's family)  I think this younger generation is full of some of the most sincere, hard working people, and everytime I see some stupid story on tv about "mean girls" and kids doing stupid things, I just want to scream.  If you could have seen all the stupid things we did in the 70s you would not believe it.  Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll is not just a slogan--it describes everything you need to know about the time I grew up in America.  That and the Vietnam War, and easy financial aid for college students.

    •  Thanks for all the advice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, zigeunerweisen

      and kind words.  

      I know a lot of people are affected by these types of situations and it's about time students and parents alike start speaking out.  Over the last few months the joy of accomplishing a lifelong dream of mine has been replaced with a sense of despair.  It's even more disappointing because if I had been in this same situation in many European countries my mom would have had daycare for us as children, I would have had education paid for, health insurance and a fresh slate to start my life with.  I love this country, but it's been neglecting the struggles of those unfortunate enough to need help and I'm finally old enough that I understand what's going on.  I'll keep hoping and I'm glad that others share that hope with me, but something needs to change and fast.    


  •  Make Student Loan interest completely deductable. (10+ / 0-)

    Right now there is a cap tied to income and a five year limit.

    SL interest should be treated no differently than a mortgage, as a person's education is just as important, if not more so these days, to this country's overall economy as buying a house.

    In fact, with my student loans, I feel like I have a mortgage, but no house. Fix this now, sell it as a middle class tax cut, make the damned Republicans filibuster that.

    Vodka and Cigarettes, Breakfast of Revolutionaries

    by superfly on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:08:08 PM PDT

  •  From a college student (6+ / 0-)

    Senator Kennedy thanks for paying attention to this important matter!  I currently attend a private University in Nashville and my mother, who is a nurse practitioner, has had to take on two jobs to help cover my tuition.  My father who is a medical doctor is almost bankrupt because Pres. Bush has slashed medicare payments and allowed insurance companies to profit off of what they consider "fair" rates for malpractice insurance.

     As you consider this legislation please consider extending FAFSA coverage to transfer students at public and private universities.  After I received my associates degree from a community college, I transfered to this private university which accepted 90 hrs. of my transfer hrs. as electives.  Many of these classes the university forced me to take over because the credit hrs. were slightly smaller or the title of the course was different.  I have also had to pay for many many classes that have contributed nothing to me as an academic or had relatively nothing to do with my major except for kill my studying time or time to get a job.  Due to either the regulations of my university or the federal laws as they currently stand, I have been slashed from the roster for FAFSA and my parents and I will continue further into debt.  Please consider holding textbook companies accountable, I have purchased so many books for outrageous prices that I can only resale to the campus bookstore for about $10- 30.

    Thank you so much and God Bless! or

    by siamesewonka on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:10:38 PM PDT

    •  Buy your books on Amazon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For most college classes, the "new" texts every year are simply a scam on the part of the textbook companies.

      I buy the oldest edition possible on Amazon or, often for a buck or two.

      Get "A"s, although textbook page numbers have been changed, new illos, and barely any difference in actual text from the "new" edition.

      I've even had professors use scare tactics: "Must get new edition, so much new info!"

      Maybe in astrophysics, computers?: not in lit, history, psych, or art history courses, for damn sure. Not in my experience

      And I'd doubt there's enough "new" info in "new" texts in most undergrad courses to bring you down from an A to a B.

      And if there is, the professor should be covering it, or check out the reference text in the library.

      (For reselling the more expensive texts that don't have older editions, it sometimes helps to buy on which often has the lower price, and resell on Amazon, sometimes higher. But if I've only paid out a dollar or two on older editions to begin with, fees make it worth my while to keep the book as a reference.)

      •  textbook cost is a scandal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        waiting to break--after the college loan scandal, take a look at the textbook and college bookselling industry

      •  Absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

        The only books I buy at my school's bookstore are the ones I need right away.  It is worth it to wait for cheaper books, and so far all of my professors have been very understanding when I don't have the right edition/copy and/or am still waiting for something, as long as I let them know what's going on and that I'm doing my best to keep up.

        Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

        by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:04:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Stop garnishing SSDI please. (7+ / 0-)

    That's just disgusting.


    by VelvetElvis on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:12:36 PM PDT

  •  Senator Kennedy, some ideas: (7+ / 0-)
    1. Make it illegal for student loan companies to provide colleges and universities with any incentive to promote certain firms.
    1. Make college financial aid officers provide information about all loans in a neutral fashion.
    1. Either eliminate the subsidy that student loan companies receive and continue to keep them exempt from bankruptcy OR let them keep the subsidy but make it possible for borrowers to declare bankruptcy due to health issues, medical debt, natural disaster, disability, or prolonged unemployment.

    #3 is the biggest issue. The way that the system works today is that John Borrower defaults, firms like Sallie Mae receive all the principle and interest from the government. Sallie Mae then sells the non-performing loan to is collection agency subsidiaries, who then have free reign to terrorize delinquent borrowers. As these loans are almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy, the current law allows them to garnish paychecks, debar borrowers from government employment, seize income tax refunds, revoke professional licenses (though I don't see how that helps them get their money back if doctors and lawyers can't practice and earn an income. That seems counterproductive), and raid SSI checks. These companies can even raid Social Security checks.

    If they want protection from bankruptcy they need to give up the subsidy, which was originally intended to entice reluctant companies in the traditional banking industry to provide financing to students. That subsidy is no longer needed. The way that the system is set up Sallie Mae profits more when borrowers default because they are paid twice.

  •  Controlling tuition costs is the best (9+ / 0-)

    way to help the student loan system.

    Too many students are forced to borrow too much, and find themselves exposed to these kinds of horrors.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:27:05 PM PDT

    •  True... (4+ / 0-)

      ... one problem with the system is that consumers really don't choose colleges based on "bang for the buck" - when you expect to have that college on your resume for the rest of your life, you will normally go to the best school you get into if at all possible. The colleges know this. So if the federal government suddenly gave every college student an extra $5000, the colleges would mostly raise tuition by that much.

    •  Perhaps, (4+ / 0-)

      but like anything else, it can be abused. My husband is faculty at a small Catholic university. If there were a cap on tuition increases, you can bet it would be achieved by a cap on faculty raises. Which would be okay if we didn't have students who graduated into jobs making more than my about-to-retire husband.

      I wonder how much of the problem is the for-profit colleges and technical schools springing up everywhere. And I know that some of it is that schools, like K-12, are required to provide services that weren't available in the 70s.

      Bottom line for me:  education, like health care, should be a right and not a privilege.

  •  Sen. Kennedy: Please help the Mandaeans in Iraq! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Builderman, mariachi mama

    Dear Sir,

    I am once again asking you to work towards a better refugee situation caused by the Iraq occupation. I find it especially important that people from endangered religious groups, such as the Mandaeans, are allowed to immigrate to the USA. It is important that we stand up to our historical mission as a country and provide them a homeland in which they can prosper and practice their religion freely.

    Please look into their dire situation. I hope that you or one of your staff responds regarding your efforts on behalf of the Mandaeans.

    Please see this BBC article:

       The Sabian Mandaeans - one of the oldest religious groups in the world - are facing extinction, according to its leaders.

       They claim that Islamic extremists in Iraq are trying to wipe them out through forced conversions, rape and murder.

       The Mandaeans are pacifists, followers of Adam, Noah and John the Baptist.

       They have lived in what is now Iraq since before Islam and Christianity.

       More than 80% have been forced to flee the country and now live as refugees in Syria and Jordan.

       Even there they do not feel safe - but they say western governments are unwilling to take them in.

  •  thank you Senator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for your efforts that give many hope for a better life and education.

    May all our Senators and Reps have the same passion as you and Rep George Miller D-CA (7th District)  His recent speech regarding student loans/College Cost Reduction Act of 2007

    Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official... ~Theodore Roosevelt

    by Pam from Calif on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:31:54 PM PDT

  •  Not as concerned about student loans (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview, elie, keikekaze

    as I am about the war and the presidency's threat to our Constitution.

    Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

    by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:31:54 PM PDT

    •  Perhaps because you're not a student, a (10+ / 0-)

      graduate (or non-graduate) with loans to pay off, or a parent of children in college or who you hope can attend college but have a less-than six digit income each year.

      College tuition systems are extremely f*#%ed up, and they're really screwing Americans over; although I'm actually benefiting from some of the messing up of the system [somewhat; the tendency to pay part/all of tuition for engineering students is a good thing, but I still probably shouldn't be getting a full tuition scholarship given my parents income level when most people have so much trouble paying.

      Join the College Kossacks on Facebook, or the Republicans win.

      by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:45:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I still have loans from grad school (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have to pay them once a month like many folks.  It's a travesty, no doubt, how things have evolved in our secondary education system.

        But the War and Presidential overreach are more pressing as they impact everyone.  Families, students, soldiers, elderly, children.

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:49:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I should also mention (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that in my undergraduate study I had to work my butt off while taking a full load of coursework because I could get the access grants and loans I needed to afford tuition and my living expenses.

        I became close friends with ramen noodles and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

        So I get the issues that we are faced with.  And I'm not a curmudgeon.  I just want focused and incessant action on the big issues now.  These "little" issues are no more likely to pass through the GOP blockade that the "big" ones.

        We do need to move on to health care, affordable education, worker's rights, civil injustice issues, living wage, and a whole host of other ills plaguing our society.

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:22:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When did you go to school? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Given the marching increase of tuition, even for state schools, this isn't exactly feasible anymore.  I understand (and even somewhat agree with) your call for action on the big issues, but education is killing a lot of us.

          •  Read your other comments (0+ / 0-)

            understand your position a bit better.  Kind of renders what I have to say moot.

          •  My schools (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            SMU for 2 years (I had to take out $9k in no interest loans that had to be paid back immediately over 4 years)

            Austin Community College:  1 semester (THAT was affordbale)

            University of Texas @ Austin for 4 years (Tuition was still relatively low, but cost of living was still difficult for me at that time)

            UC Berkeley for grad school for 3 years(Expensive tuition, even more expensive living expenses  -  no grants/scholarships just loans, teaching stipend and the job I had to work on the side to afford my food)

            Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

            by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:02:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I still owe tons -- from the "Kennedy" School :) (4+ / 0-)

        Good to see this diary up here, and wonderfully approrpriate for me... given my $50K in loans from Harvard's "Kennedy" School!

        Kudos to the Senator for doing something on this front.  I especially like the 15% cap.

        One piece of advice/request -- please, please don't forget the many, many, many of us who are not current students, but still have lots of loans from when we were.  

        For example, how about:

        1. Capping the interest rate at a much lower level -- at least a few points below where it is now.  
        1. Offering the public service forgiveness to those of us further on in our careers as well.
        1. Capping the number of years for payment, and then forgiving the balance (say.. 15 years)

        Hell, if it were up to me, I'd institute a blanket "First $20K is forgiven" edict right now.  

        Now, all these things would cost money, of course.  But as we all know, it's in our economic interest to get as many people who should go to college to actually go (they'll make more, pay higher taxes, yada, yada, yada).

        But hey, any step is a good one.  

        And for the record, even with the debt, I wouldn't trade my Kennedy School days for a million bucks.  :)

    •  The war is distracting everyone (4+ / 0-)

      from dealing with so many important things here at home.

    •  ...the debts that saddle americans (12+ / 0-)

      distract some from caring about the president's threat to the constitution. Who cares what W does if you can't afford to pay your bills, or buy food, or get health insurance? If your hounded by creditors and otherwise feel helpless, depressed, and enslaved by debt?

      It's all connected.

      I'm just a simple hyperchicken from a backwoods asteroid. Relentless!

      by ablington on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:52:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it is (0+ / 0-)

        see my other comments in this thread.

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:52:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes, the debts weigh (5+ / 0-)

        so many of us, and as Michael Moore pointed out in SiCKO, and combined with the need to work for health insurance, lead to a docile and desperate work force grinding away and not really paying much attention to anything that is going on in the world.

      •  And that's no accident (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It was in the 60s that people could afford to go to college, either because their working class parents had a few extra bucks to throw in, or because they could waitress and live on tip money.  Suddenly all kinds of people were in college, and forming opinions on all kinds of things that had heretofore not been considered any of their business.  War?  Social justice?  Race? Sex discrimination?  

        Well, they put an end to it.  It just got so expensive to go.  People had to borrow, meaning that every semester they had to weigh whether they wanted to keep going into debt or keep getting closer to the degree.  The cost benefit analysis got twisted: instead of studying things that would teach you to think, it seemed to make more sense to study something that would get you a job right away so that you could pay back the loans.  

        Reagan started the means testing, tightened the rules, made it harder to get grants and even loans, all to prevent "fraud and abuse".   It ended up preventing education.  Which was the point all along.


    •  Student loans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lightiris, jjellin, North Country Dem

      Are just as much a threat as are those things, because they cripple an entire generation, thereby threatening the basic underpinnings of the American economy. The war and Bush's attack on the Constitution are also important, but, student loans are wreaking a devastation on American lives that I suspect you are not yet aware of.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's not true (0+ / 0-)

        read my other comments in this thread.

        there are a tremendous number of issues we deal with.  but our way of life is threatened by what is happening because of this war and the GOP's impossibly undemocratic tendency towards despotism that blocks EVERYTHING we seek to achieve.

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:24:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And I have read your other comments.

          I think that Bush's despotic tendencies are enabled by the fact that we don't have the time or economic freedom to contest it. If you have a nation of people working in a de facto debt slavery then it becomes a whole hell of a lot easier to maintain despotic rule.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:27:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  chicken and egg (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            i think this is the difficulty with what we face.  what comes first.  do we end the slavery in the face of despotism or do we end the despotism in order to end the slavery.

            i think they both have to go no doubt.  we just may have different tactics.

            Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

            by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:29:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What needs to happen then (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Is move forward on both. Congress is wrong to ignore or downplay Bush's attacks on the Constitution as they have, but they're still working to get the war over. I think that doesn't preclude a focus on the economic crisis that more and more Americans are facing.

              I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

              by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:31:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Do you think (0+ / 0-)

                that GOP tactics when "dealing" with the Democratic party is to keep the party constantly off base so it can't tend to pressing issues?  It would match the Grover Norquist model of drowning the government in the bathtub.

                Even as the minority party, the GOP is fantastic at screwing everyone else except their elite base.

                Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

                by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:38:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  That's only partly true (0+ / 0-)

          There are lots of issues out there.  But without education - without coming to understand that what matters is the ability to ask the right questions, not to know all the answers - you can't even begin to understand what the other issues are.  

      •  "that's not true" (0+ / 0-)

        meaning your statement about my lack of awareness.  

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:26:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are you serious? (4+ / 0-)

      Millions of students in this nation are confronted with not being able to afford a college education, the "paper" they need to be successful in life.  Millions.  This is very much an important issue.  Let us not forget that there are young people desperately trying to get ahead in an increasingly competitive nation and a college education is the ticket that gets them there.  Indeed, it can keep them out of the meat grinder that is the military.

      Geez.  Not everything revolves around the war in Iraq.  Real people in a time of war are trying to live real lives--right now.

      It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

      by lightiris on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:39:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please read the rest of my comments (0+ / 0-)

        There is a thread with more discussion.  And "not as concerned" does not mean "not concerned" by any means.

        Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

        by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:41:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did read the rest of your comments. (0+ / 0-)

          Your initial comment still speaks for itself, however.  

          It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

          by lightiris on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:47:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then you have judged me (0+ / 0-)

            and without even recourse to a dialog I cannot escape from your verdict.

            Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

            by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:49:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't judged you-- (0+ / 0-)

              I've responded to your words.  I'm glad that you have reconsidered your intention.  

              It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

              by lightiris on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:53:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I do care about our kids and young adults. It is all connected, as ablington wrote.  And I think eugene is right that we have to approach all of these issues simultaneously.

                I think what prompted me to respond the way I did is how Sen. Kennedy's habit on this site is to appear with a set of press-release communiques and then vanish.

                I know he's a busy Senator.  And it's not that I don't support this initiative.  I do.

                But I haven't seen him on here discussing the other grave issues at stake with us.

                So I interpret that silence as a necessity to bring it up in the "town hall" so to speak.  Not to hijack the thread.  But just to speak my voice.

                I do not intend by any means to offend people struggling with loans or who have yet to being that process.  I fortunately and almost done with paying my loans off.  They've been a thorn in my side for almost 20 years.

                Support me in the SF AIDS Walk this July 15 by contributing

                by m00nchild on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:58:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Here hear! Listen to mOOnchild (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because without our constitution, there's no need to worry about much else!  Impeach the scumbags and preserve the constitution NOW!

      London calling to the underworlds-- come out of the cupboards you boys and girls....

      by yowsta on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:23:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fixing the Fix (6+ / 0-)

    This new education program is a great start. Especially after Bush burned you a few years ago by reneging on his part of your joint project to fix America's education system.

    We need more doctors. America's high healthcare costs are significantly built on a shortage of doctors. There's not enough competition to bring down costs. Overworked doctors spend as little time with patients as possible, which of course reduces healthcare quality. Those doctors spend time "more efficiently" by prescribing more medications, rather than more careful examinations and more personalized care. Those medications cause their own health problems, while driving up the costs, because they're expensive and not as "one size fits all" as the pharmacos would like doctors to say they are.

    So we need to at least double the number of American doctors, right away. We should invest in certifying the large numbers of foreign doctors who move here already mostly (or entirely) qualified to work. The government should invest the people's money in completing whatever training they need for American certification. We should require all foreigner medical students in America to practice for at least 5 years in America, or forfeit their American credentials, and pay a substantial financial penalty, plus get the lowest priority for US reentry, even for vacation or transferring planes to a 3rd country.

    We should offer free medical school tuition, based on preference by the schools that want them. We should double the capacity of medical schools. Medical schools which get any public investment, like government loans, grants, research contracts, or any others, should be required to increase their capacity to produce doctors, before they take profits. And qualified schools which expand into medical education, especially if partnering with existing medical schools, should qualify for more investments, as long as it directly produces more doctors.

    Medical students who get any public money should have to accept assignment to the places the government says they're most needed, like inner cities and rural areas. They should accept specialization in the fields most needed, not just the most lucrative. Before a single extra public cent is spent to produce another Beverly Hills or Miami nose job doctor, every single rural emergency room and urban trauma center must be fully staffed. Doctors who break that contract should lose their license, and pay double their public assistance back to the government as a fine.

    All the money collected by these programs in forfeits from broken terms by graduates should be put back into the system. And doctors themselves should pay a tax to subsidize increasing their numbers. The top tier of doctor earners should pay at least 10% of that upper income into the system, shrinking until doctors earning the median income pay nothing extra. And of course pharmaco profits must be taxed to pay to create the doctors who can better (and more carefully) prescribe their products. Overall, people will make more money, more total revenue will be earned by all these doctors. But the richest doctors and pharmacos will no longer profit so obscenely from the doctor shortage, while Americans suffer and die from it to keep them rich.

    You continue to do good work for America's greatest investment, public education. And Massachusetts is home to a disproportionate number of schools, students and teachers, medical and otherwise. Please lead the way in a new era of investment in our two greatest challenges, with the greatest return on public investment: education, and doctors.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:40:22 PM PDT

  •  capping payments == long payment schedule (5+ / 0-)

    If you cap the payments, won't the loan companies simply respond by stretching out the schedule to infinity?

    Owing 15% of your income for life isn't so great either.

  •  Senator Kennedy, thank you for everything you do. (5+ / 0-)

    I have no student loans, I have paid for every class and book myself, but alot of my friends and relatives do.  After being up all night, you guys definitely stood up for the people today.  We love you and we are depending on you.  We would be lost without you, our democratic leaders.  Blessings.

  •  I had a stroke 2 weeks ago (10+ / 0-)

    which was directly caused by lack of medical care this past 5 years. I could not afford medical insurance because of the more than $700 a month I pay on parent plus loans for my kids education (more than 100k in student loans, in addition to the 20k each of them have in student loans).

    So now I have an addition 25k in medical bills caused by your student loans policies. Where is help for me?

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:41:24 PM PDT

  •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While my children are okay, my son-in-law is trying to get through school with both of them working and having a child, yet only loans are available (He does, at least, go to a public school, so he'll be better off than most.).  I remember many years ago an Ohio senate candidate (John Gilligan, who lost, but later became governor) talking about how income goes up when education goes up, so it was in the government's interest to provide college tuition.  Still seems like a good idea to me.

  •  Thank you Senator Kennedy (4+ / 0-)

    College education is more important than ever. It’s time to throw the money-lenders out of the temple of higher education.

    Yes!  It is about time Congress started to look into this huge problem.  Thank you for your leadership on this issue.

    This hardly seems like a horror story because it is just so common.  Young people borrowing $20,000 per year to fund their college education.  The thought of a 22 year-old coming out of college at least $80,000 in debt is horror story enough.  I don't even know what the monthly payment on that would be. I suppose it depends on exactly what type of loan(s) they got, and what the interest rate(s) are, but just the thought of that is so horrifying to me.  I am talking about several of my daughters friends who have simply accepted that that's the way it is.  They want to get their bachelor's degree, and feel that they really have to go to college, but they have no idea what they are getting into with debt like that.  Some day they will want to buy a house, and it is going to be very difficult.

    Both of my daughters got or are getting more financial aid in grants than some others, so their loans are a bit lower.  But still my older daughters monthly loan payments add up to around $400 per month--that is a lot for a young 20-something to have to pay every month when just starting out.  It seems that colleges think nothing of raising their rates to the sky and then admitting that they are unlikely to meet the students "need" as determined by the federal govt. in the fafsa, so it is expected that students will have to make up the gap with more loans.  I think that is just obscene and exploitive, especially now that we know something of what has been going on (and I'm sure it's only the tip of the ice berg) with the college administrators and lenders acting in cahoots.

    Sen. Kennedy, I really think we need to change how we view higher ed in this country.  I think colleges should not be trying to raise money on the backs of the students they should be educating.  Colleges should be looking to wealthy donors to support the functioning of the college, and maybe it is not a fair comparison, but behaving like Harvard which does not charge students whose family income is under some amount (like $40,000ish), and otherwise provides financial aid to meet the family need.  Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect other colleges to do likewise, but honestly, Harvard (for example) has so much money, I think Harvard should kick in more money to fund the educations of students who attend colleges other than Harvard.  Maybe a radical idea, but I think the wealthy and privileged in this country should do more to educate young people, and maybe Harvard could lead the way in this.  

    Any way, good luck with any legislation that will help to make higher education more affordable for more people in this country.

  •  Thanks for your work on this (2+ / 0-)

    I appreciated your comments this morning. I was watching C-SPAN this morning after last night's debates, and I thought some of your plans for how to fix the college loan and college cost mess were great. I have a son entering college in a couple of years and I am STILL paying down student loans. I'm not sure how on earth I'm going to pay for his college education. I've got my fingers crossed he'll get lots of scholarships.
    Thanks again, and I hope this bill passes easily. I was glad to hear a Republican speaking in favor of it this morning as well.

    "You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." --George W. Bush

    by rioduran on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:47:07 PM PDT

  •  Tinkering with the student loan program (8+ / 0-)

    is no real solution.  Outrageous tuition rates and books are the problem.  If you can't get a handle on that, this problem will never be solved. As part of the ever shrinking middle class, I can attest...there is some help out there if you are poor, but man, those of us in the middle are the ones in trouble.  Whatever formula FAFSA uses to determine ability to pay is a joke, Senator.

    And to whomever it is out there encouraging kids to attend schools where they end up $20-40,000 in debt, well, lets just say I think that's criminal.  

    With that said, let me say thank you for the all night senate debate.  I appreciate your efforts to represent the will of the country.

    ...each day the dread of learning who has fallen, who will not return from this terrible war.

    by althea in il on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:50:47 PM PDT

  •  the way to solve the student loan racket (10+ / 0-)

    is fully funded free public higher education, same as we do with K-12 in this country. without the unaffordable tuition, the banks wouldn't be skimming interest off the top of our educational system.

    just as the solution with the health care crisis is to cut the profiteers completely out of the system, so it is with the higher education crisis. middle class families, to say nothing of poor and working class families, are being priced out of every segment of what we once called the american dream, in health care, housing, education, and retirement.

    the partial solutions have failed us, senator kennedy, in every one of these crises. it is time to change the root of the system, and deal with the corporate profiteers who have gotten their grubby mitts on the public sphere. it is time for a healthy and free public sphere, and an end to this "solution" of allowing corporations and banks "help" everyday people get themselves deep in hock just to access that nominally public sphere.

    the commons have been sold off to the highest bidder, and increasingly we cannot afford to even ante up. cut to the heart of the problem, senator kennedy, and work for free public education.  the existence of student loans themselves is a symptom that the system is broken.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:51:58 PM PDT

  •  kick the banks out of the process (11+ / 0-)

    why do we need banks to make loans anyway?!  the government guarantees the loans if students default!  so the bank has no risk.  all the banks do is borrow money from the government at discount rates, jack up the interest rate, slap some fees on it, loan it to students and then walk away with their risk-free profits.  where is the value in that?

    kick the banks out of the process and have the government fill out the five sheets of paper needed to issue and manage a loan.  use the savings to offer more grants for the needy as well as giving the rest better rates.

    1. Awakening of Capital. 2. Meeting of cars and aeroplanes 3. Dining on the terrace of the Casino 4. Skirmish in the oasis.

    by neontrace on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:52:08 PM PDT

    •  No Longer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fungible Chattel

      Sallie Mae was the one whose loans were gov't backed--that changed and they are fully independent of the government as of 2004.  The are NOT related to Fannie Mae.

      Sallie Mae does do collection on federal loans I have made before 2004, so perhaps there is still some tie, but other "private" loans I have from them are pretty much what I would get from Citibank or any other publicly traded wall street-driven bank.

      I'd love to see a federally funded loan corporation that would fill in the gap between federal grants and their paltry $5000-6000 limits and the increasing cost of tuition, but do so in such a way that with parents cosigning the interest rate should be very close to the Fed's target rate (currently 5.25% when I'm paying Sallie Mae 9%!).

  •  This is another Good Thing. (2+ / 0-)

    Since helping people pay for college is such an obviously good idea, I'm sure that those.. those... those REPUBLICANS will do their very best to get in the way. At this point, I wouldn't mind seeing a weekly sleepover in the Senate to make them stand up and show the people of the United States who's trying to keep the government from working. Maybe we should all mail coffee to our Senators... decaf to the ones with an (R) after their names.

  •  JAIL execs who screw peee-ons? how (0+ / 0-)

    about that for a go$$am change?

    Thanks Senator for your support and your help, BUT

    can we get any Ivy high flyers to deign to fix the rules and the laws so that screwing peee-ons = JAIL?

    or, we gonna get excuses about white collar crime?


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 04:59:58 PM PDT

  •  Senator Kennedy: (7+ / 0-)

    I would also re-establish dischargeability of student loans in bankruptcy, at least for loans that are more than 5 or 7 years old, and automatic dischargeability at the end of a successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.

    Lifting the limits on refinancing student loans would also help, as would automatic deferral for anyone collecting SSI or SSDI or participating in a state food stamp program.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:07:44 PM PDT

  •  Question: (6+ / 0-)

    First of all, thank you for your work on this issue. My question is this:

    • Capping student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income.


    • Providing student loan forgiveness for students who choose public service careers.

    Would these apply to people who have already graduated and are in the process of repaying their student loans, or would they just apply to students going to college now or who will go in the future?

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your effort on behalf of "universal education."  This is the work that our elected officials should be doing.

  •  Nice job, Senator -- Keep up the good work. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roxy317, Jail the BFEE

    Side note: I'd like an opportunity to interview you for ePluribus Media regarding two topics -- education, and alternative energy sources.  Just giving you and your office a heads-up; I'll be calling next week to try and arrange something with you, and I'll be contacting Senator Kerry later for an interview as well.

    I live just outside of Boston, so will try to set up something for when you are each back home.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:25:32 PM PDT

  •  If you're serious (4+ / 0-)

    And if you're still a liberal - then the only answer is forgiveness of all existing student loans, and moving this country toward paying for higher ed for students who wish to have it.

    If you're not willing to go that far, then make student loans dischargable through bankruptcy, and prevent or very strictly limit wage garnishments.

    Most borrowers want to pay it back. But the rules you guys created make it harder for us to do that.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:25:47 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, jjellin, Archangel, Jail the BFEE

    Dear Senator,

    I'd just like to say thank you for taking on an issue that's close to me.  I got lucky in some respects when it came to education.  My parents took me in so I could afford to go to school and thanks to some great scholarships earned through hard work I managed only to get about $24,000 in the hole before I graduated with my bachelors.  Currently I'm going to get my Masters so I can one day teach in higher education.  Right now, I figured that would be a good bet since if things don't change in 2009--God willing--at least I can give up on the doctorate so I don't go screaming further into debt.

    I'm a man who likes to repay his debts but the current system is a scam.  I'm not treated as someone who wants to make the country better.  I'm treated as a consumer who can be milked like a cow.  I don't make much money as it is and I don't like being exploited by banks looking to make an easy buck.  But I am glad that the Democrats are doing something no Republican can do:  listen to people who need their help and actually do something to help.

    The only thing I can think that could make your plan better is to open more avenues for loan forgiveness.  While I believe my future career of teaching would qualify, there should be more ways to eliminate high student loan debt and help out America at the same time.  Either way, I hope your bill goes through, and I'm certain that all of my senators and representatives will vote with you on this issue.  I hope so, I did take the time to write them!

    Thanks for listening.

  •  Windfarm on Nantucket Sound (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Senator Kennedy. I am your constituent. I live in Massachusetts. I am also a registered Democrat. My question to you:


    Enjoy reading The Proxies, a free crime thriller in short story form.

    by maynard on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:35:10 PM PDT

  •  Senator Kennedy............ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I congratulate you on what you're trying to do with fixing the student loan program.  The proposal to cap student loan payments at 15% of discretionary income is very much needed to free millions of Americans from interest rate slavery.  I hope this will be retroactive, and not just to new loan disbursements.

    The only other thing I want to say to you is that my family has loved the Kennedy's ever since your brother John ran for president in 1960.  That being said, I must express my disappointment in your prominent role in trying to ram a new immigration bill through which effectively would demolish the wage security of millions of working and middle class Americans by allowing millions of illegals to become citizens and also the guest worker program.

    While your commitment to social justice for immigrants is noteworthy, your lack of concern for American workers who will be hurt by allowing millions of new immigrants into this country is not.

    Charity, Senator, begins at home.

  •  What can a person like myself look forward to? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Leap Year

    I went to a state university, worked as much as I could while keeping up m grades (Summa Cum Laude), and at the end of it all I still have come up with around $25,000 dollars of debt due to living and education expenses.

    These are federal unsubsidized loans and I pay well over 100 dollars in just interest every month. I today's work environment for young people, why should recent graduates already be carrying around that much debt?

    Higher education should be accessible (read affordable) to all those with desires for serious intellectual pursuit of their disciplines; and it shouldn't come packaged with debt for profit industries.

    Oh well, I should be so surprised with this country's obsession with "balls'n'brass", anti-intellectualism as of late.

    As far as horror stories....I've had repeated statements come to my door from a student loan company that I'd never signed anything with...they were requesting me to pay down a balance and kept charging "late fees." The company somehow had my social security number in their documentation(which is why eventually waited through the 2 hour line for their phone service): and they were claiming to be reporting to credit agencies.  I didn't end up sending them any money and eventually I got it straightened out through a completely asinine process, that I will not begin to recall here. I'm sure many others like me did send them money; as I am sure they never saw any of it again.

    If I have to have $25,000 dollars of debt for going to 4 years of college, fine. I'll keep paying off as much as I can each and every month. Pehaps if I actually had an expendable income I would be able to invest in something.

    Anti-War is not a protest, it's common sense.

    by Janosik on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:41:28 PM PDT

  •  Amazing Efficiency of the Direct Loan System (5+ / 0-)

    For 5 years I literally suffered through Salie May and the originating Bank One, and a whole stream of companies who traded my student loan back and forth. Their staff was obstructionist and generally unhelpful, doing what ever they could to make sure that you didn't take advantage of laws in your favor. They would call at all hours, include outrageous fines and late penalies, as well as being generally... well, criminal.

    All this changed for me when I consolidated my loan under the Direct Federal Loan program.  I simply cannot speak to the burden that was lifted from my back.  Every person who I spoke with was knowlegable and generally wanted to help me make payment arrangements.  They worked with me, and now my loans are managable.   It's been a pure delight; well, as much as it can be a delight.  Dollar for dollar, they got compliance not through pestering, but by being truly helpful.  A model organization.

    I'm glad your working hard for student loans, but, what's important is that the DSL program is on an equal-footing with the "private" lenders.  Remove fines, penalties that they wager -- giving a "good" low rate, but, after missing a payment by one day, having penalties which more than double your effective rate, etc.

    Help the DSL program up from it's undermining by the administration.

  •  Bush will Veto it, Impeach Bush (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, SecondComing

    Let's stop mucking around Sen.. Until you guys get rid of Bush and Cheney, you can pass all the laws you want, but Bush will either Veto them, ignore them, refuse to fund them, Appoint a Crony to run them, or put a Signing Statement with them, if th Republicans and Mitch don't make you all look like fools to begin with.

    You  Sir, as one of THE Senior Statesmen owe it to the country to move mountains until Bush and Cheney are removed from office.

    -8.63 -7.28 Ask " The Question "

    by OneCrankyDom on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:43:16 PM PDT

  •  Thankyou senator - you and Sen. Kerry are always (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leap Year, alba

    there looking out for EVERY issue, and not the issue du jour or trendy ones.  Many of us appreciate that even though we rarely get the opportunity to share our awareness or our thanks.

    I wish the mainstream media treated the facts behind your positions and your efforts with half the respect and enthusiasm they give to Bush's lies.

  •  Keeping High Borrower Interst Rates? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Builderman, Leap Year, blueseas

    It is a nice list, but what is really hurting 20-something graduates, who are having harder time with lower-real wages than any generation, is that our interest rates on student loans are very high, and rising.  What you going to do about this?  Nothing?

    Why are student loans more expensive than a house mortgage?

  •  Years ago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, wordene

    I was one of those students looking for a way to pay for my college education.  I enlisted in the Army National Guard in return for free college tuition to any state college or university where in Massachusetts.  The only reason I didn't land in the first Gulf War was because it ended so quickly.  My unit was on stand-by.

    Students should not be "prostituting" (please note the quotes) themselves to the U.S. Army like I did in order to pay their tuition.  Young people need help, ethical help, in getting themselves through school.  The suggestions you make are a great start.  

    Thanks, too, as usual, for the good work you do.  I'm proud to call you my senator.  

    It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

    by lightiris on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:46:34 PM PDT

  •  Thank you... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alba, Archangel

    Senator for your continued work in Education.

    Proud Tennessee Democrat!

    by deedlebay on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:47:57 PM PDT

  •  all eyes on Academia (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Builderman, jjellin, gansterr

    While we need to dramatically reduce the costs of higher education and increase access or opportunity of acceptance (not correlating to graduating, they can keep the Mastery bar high), I think Academia itself
    is not being really audited.

    For example, the wages for adjunct professors are obscenely low, tenure is almost non-existent and RA/TA stipends are often so low, one cannot accept them for there is no way to attend graduate school on such low amounts.

    So, firstly give $$$ to students on every level (US citizens) to attend, grants, and increase those stipends for areas that are in the national interest.

    Offer a full debt relief plus living stipend for anyone to complete the required teaching courses.

    Make it more like Europe with students being more like civil servants, with rights.

    While I want the financial barrier to higher education removed I think we really need to put a spotlight on Academia and it's administration itself.

    I also think the money needs to go directly into the hands of the students themselves.  I don't trust Academia currently.

    by BobOak on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 05:54:23 PM PDT

    •  Indeed, adjuncts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, BobOak, gansterr

      get the worst deal by far.  I'm an undergrad who would love to pursue a career in academia, but I'm terrified of ending up as an adjunct.

      •  even worse (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, Builderman, gansterr

        We never hear about the true financial statements of Universities.

        What the hell is going on here?  They keep lowering wages, increasing work loads, increasing the time required to complete graduate studies (a PHD taking 8 yrs????  and not through the fault of the graduate student?) and then pay below minimum wage.

        I've seen teaching positions advertised for 8 bucks an hour but only actual teaching time, so obviously driving to and fro, grading papers, office hours and all of the rest means they are working for ???  2 dollars an hour?

        Same with RAs and TAs.

        by BobOak on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:12:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Academic careers for all but Americans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Builderman, BobOak, jjellin

      I fully concur with these sentiments.  Why you could have a PhD in Computer Science or Biological Science and you will find yourself stuck in NOWHERE LAND because of corporate and Academic greed and the abuse of foreign visas.  You could have a PhD and be working in science or education for almost 20 years.  You have to pay back your have no typical un-employment benefits.  You might not even have any credit for working in terms of years in the social security system.  All of your work may be exploited by others as they push you out the door and hire a bunch of foreigners.  This is Absolutely Fanstastic in terms of our future in Education, Economy, and National Security.

      BobOak, I am glad that you are aware of these issues and speaking out on them so diligently.  And not only on the corrosive effects of illegal immigration.  I simply wish that Senator Kennedy would go and visit all of those wonderful Universities in Massachussettes and take a look into the real world of Junior american Academia.  I would hope and believe that he would come to see the light and maybe do something about it.  He has that kind of power.  I think he is simply naive because of the dance and pony show that Universities present and the terrible performance of the MSM in this regard.

      •  unlimited H-1Bs (0+ / 0-)

        Academia has the ability to use unlimited H-1Bs and I agree, what a way to repress wages and this is backed up with a glut of Post Docs and corresponding wages.

        This is bullshit we should be "growing our own" and that's precisely what made the US #1 in the world, not labor arbitraging our talent....which is the current game.

        I'm glad you commented on this because Academia is considered sacrosanct, they can do no wrong, but in fact, they most certainly are.

        I think more we as in your average high IQ and highly educated Americans all need to go visit our representatives and talk about this....honestly I don't think they have a clue as to what is going on with the top tier STEM people, professionals in terms of career and what that really implies for America's future here.

        by BobOak on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:38:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mahalo Senator! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for all the years of service you have given your country.  

  •  Not a horror story, but probably more common (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Builderman

    My main point: Sallie Mae charges me 9% adjustable interest despite the fact that my parents cosigned on my loan, they have significant assets and income, and both my parents and I have perfect credit records.  They're no different than other banks now, and there is no government-backed private loan company to keep things in check any longer.

    For a business that doesn't have to work to get customers, the spread it skims off the top is excessively rich.  There is not enough competition to drive down prices.


    I graduated from Stanford in 2004 (tuition around $30,000 my senior year), which has wonderful financial aid but I still came up quite short and ended up with ~$27,000 in loans, many of which were not federal loans because of the laughably small maximums.

    First, I'd like to comment that with the high cost of college, I took a brutally realistic view toward which major to pick based on which would be reasonably enjoyable but still pay the bills.  Maybe I'll never have my dream job, but then again this is the real world and it's sure nice to have good food on the table and stable employment.

    Second, I think Sallie Mae's interest rates are unreasonable.  My parents have perfect credit and a successful business with significant assets (winery + vineyards) and despite cosigning on my loan, Sallie Mae still charges me 9% interest, which continues to adjust upward.  I know their overhead and cost of capital are significantly lower.

    Thankfully I did qualify for some federal loans during my first years, and those are refinanced at a locked in rate of 4.4% interest, about which I almost feel guilty because the government is subsidizing that loan to make up the difference between the target rate (5.25%) and 4.4%.

    I'd like to see a new government-backed Student Loan corporation to compete with private banks (which would now include Sallie Mae). It doesn't have to cost the government anything--for students who still need loans in excess of the federal Stafford and Pell grant limits, they could go after these loans which would have variable rates but still a low spread between the Federal Reserve Target rate and the rate the consumer pays.  Rates could be set based on credit scores or assets, but fundamentally a graduate with a good job, good credit, and parents in good financial shape who cosign should be able to get money at a rate almost as low as people borrowing to buy a house who have perfect credit.

  •  More interest than tuition. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, wordene, jjellin, pkbarbiedoll

    Just today, I received my consolidation report.  By the time I'm done repaying the loan, I will have paid more than twice the cost of tuition, supplies, books, and the like.  Let me say that differently.  If my initial loan was $XX,XXX, then my repayment is TWICE THAT + $2,030!!  This is criminal.

    If you saw my diary from yesterday - about the thief who broke into our home in the middle of the night - I feel more violated by my college and my lender than I did by the man who intruded into my house!

  •  Senator Kennedy thanks for your work on this.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jjellin, blueseas

    I believe there needs to be significant interest rate subsidy for college loans, and agree with you that eligibility needs to be adjusted upward to allow more college bound kids to qualify.

    As for college costs, the issue here is that you will get huge push back about this, since colleges are not going to change their ways of spending easily.  Thus, students, while 'informed' of college costs at various campuses, will still want to attend the best school they can for career reasons (who would blame them for this decision?).   Even state schools I know of are getting more and more expensive, its built into the system and so if you are from Illinois for example, you have to pay what those schools ask, since if you go out of state, costs are only higher.

    I also believe hardship payback must be included as well.

    Let's make it far easier for deserving kids to go to college..  I've there, and I've also taught students who were so burdened with multiple part time jobs that they barely could attend class.  

    Let's look at this too in light of a 12 billion expense per month for Iraq.  Our kids could use that money to become college grads and successful adults as a result.

    Thank you for your efforts.

  •  DROP. THE. RATE. (6+ / 0-)

    There's no reason on earth that I should have to be paying 8% on a federally guaranteed (i.e. "zero risk") student loan when 30-year rates are below 6%.

    I pay more in monthly interest on my student loan than I do on monthly health care; I'm jobless and on COBRA.


    Lender. Making. Out. Like. Bandit.

    •  yep (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EconAtheist, jjellin

      I don't get why the federal loan rates are in the high 7% range when the fed's target interest rate (the rate charged to banks who make loans and such) is 5.25%.

      My student loan is on automatic payment, so as a customer I essentially cost nothing in terms of overhead--I just continue to pay 9% on my variable private Sallie Mae loan and thankfully just 4.4% on a federally backed loan which I locked in with a fixed rate when the fed target rate bottomed out.

      Heck, the government could make money competing with Sallie Mae by offering variable rate loans to fill in the gap between pell grants and the actual cost of college!

  •  Keep Acting while others Posture! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you Senator Kennedy for once again demonstrating LEADERSHIP.

    I will direct my representatives in both houses to not just support - but to CHAMPION this Higher Education Bill, sir.

    Hope is, after all, the currency of popular politics, and a coin surprisingly hard to devalue. -- Fred Anderson, Crucible of War

    by ornerydad on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:06:14 PM PDT

  •  Dream act (0+ / 0-)

    Does anyone know whether the dream act will be part of this bill...I know it was part of the immigration bill and went down along everything that was init...This seems the perfect time to add it into the student loan bill.

    •  Think it's attached to a (0+ / 0-)

      defense appropriations bill

      DREAM Act still has legs, believe it or not. in fact, the senate is going to vote today or tomorrow to add the DREAM Act to another defense appropriations bill.  here's a great alert from the National Immigration Law Center about the DREAM Act and how people can support it:



      From DMI

  •  Thank you Senator Kennedy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a parent who is already struggling to help my son to pay his tuition, I hope some of these actions contemplated will help with our obligations, as well.

    My daughter plans to attend college soon, so every bit helps.

  •  How can we fix it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, pkbarbiedoll

    I'll tell you.

    What you do is is you take all that freakin' money we are spending in Iraq and you school everyone in this country for goddamn free.

    It's a no-brainer with a cherry on it.

    The other thing you do is you throw all these parasitical loan worms into a dungeon and kick them in the proverbial nuts until they sing uncle in a choir like chorus bent for the angels.

    And before you do all that... you cancel all the loans nation-wide. And those loan-merchants won't be able to say jack-diddle because you will be kicking them right were God intended SOBs like that to get kicked.

    One other thing you could do is take that bankruptcy bill and do one of two things... either stick right up the butts of everyone who voted for it, or rescind it.

    Now, get hot!

    "We now know many things.... most of which, we already knew." - dash888

    by Tirge Caps on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:28:01 PM PDT

  •  Forget About It! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Builderman, pkbarbiedoll

    With all due respect to Senator Kenedy,

    I think we should shoud just let more Chinese, Indians, and Mexicans into our Universities.  That way, the Chinese and Indians can become the Geneticists and Computer Science people and the Mexicans can be Janitors.  As for the Americans?  Fend for yourselfs.  What do you think we are a socialist country?

  •  how about reducing (4+ / 0-)

    the interest rates? i pay 900 a month on my student loans which are at 7% with the federal government.

    can you cut a starving professor who spends his free time working with inner city schools some slack?


    Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

    by DeweyCounts on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 06:41:31 PM PDT

    •  Yep, reduce the interest rates, pretty please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Single Mom with three children, my oldest is in debt up to his eyeballs.  His debt is so high, he can't afford to live on his own and God knows, anyone with a 24 year old boy living in their home knows the dynamics of that living arrangement.

      When he started taking out loans I believe they were around 3.something percent.  My 80 year old mother co-sign because I could not qualify.  She is scared to death about the amount outstanding and the debt this kid has incurred.  

      Unfortunately, we live in a high rent/housing area.  The Washington DC Metropolitan area has much to offer with job opportunities but the cost of living is outrageous.  So, ask the Senators you work with how a kid coming out of college, with no experience in his/her field, can survive on entry level income and pay a mortgage payment in rent and still afford to drive a car, eat and pay for other essentials.  It's's just truly obscene and criminal what has happened to our higher education system.

      Bush's Last Day - 01-20-2009 -6.25 -5.85

      by pmob5977 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 08:56:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dear Senator Kennedy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking

    With all due respect, Senator, I don't want to hear from you about how we can fix the student loan system. I want to hear you stand up and sound the alarm about the most serious constitutional crisis our country has ever faced. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that should take priority over stopping the current constitution-shredding occupants of the White House from causing any more damage than they already have. Not only do they have to be stopped, all of the provisions that they have put in place to create an executive with unfettered power, unconstrained by the rule of law, have to be rolled back and firmly, officially REPUDIATED, BEFORE the next president takes office. Unless and until you can speak out on that, Senator Kennedy, I really don't want to hear anything else from you.

    •  Here hear, Senator-- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      profmarcus is right on time here, and you sir, should know better about preserving our precious constitution. Also, I am ashamed regarding all the lack of concern in letting those white house criminals get away with killing our country and constitution. I wonder how your brothers would feel about all this too?!

      London calling to the underworlds-- come out of the cupboards you boys and girls....

      by yowsta on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:33:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Old loans and regrets (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pkbarbiedoll, blueseas

    Please consider lowering interset rates on all student loans not just ones from 2006 and on.  I pay hundreds a month for my time at state schools with very little to show for it.  Starting out in life with huge amounts of debt seems so backwards. I'm not alone in having a downgraded vision of the "American Dream", which is due to the education that was supposed to be the doorway to it.  Instead of buying a house and raising a family as my parents did at my age, I'm hoping that one day I can get health insurence.  
    I do realize though that there are many people who have much worse situations than I do.  Fixing the costs of college is just one piece of the puzzle to get this country on a better track.

  •  Thanks Senator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftofArizona, pkbarbiedoll

    Although we view immigration and illegal immigration completely differently, I sincerely appreciate your work on student loans.

    A recent MBA grad, I have enough student loan debt to buy a nice two story house in the midwest. Where I got into trouble was that half of this debt is in private loans, issued when rates were at historic lows. Rates were so low, and my credit rating consistently very good, that I didn't think future changes in the interest rate were much of a threat.

    Was I ever wrong about that. The Fed raised the rate-what, 17 times in the space of a few years? And loan issuers will place another couple of rate points on top of whatever the prime is. Bottom line: I have a huge balance that has actually grown, not decreased, since I graduated; about 20% of that balance is at a rate of 10% to 12%, and my montly total payment is $1300, of which several hundred dollars is in interest alone. Call it the "Bernanke effect".

    Now, I suppose this wouldn't be so bad if I had that top job immediately upon graduation. But while I certainly did work, I found myself confronted by a new economic model which is quite different than what they promised us. You might be surprised by how many MBAs (MBAs!) are working in glorified temp jobs in industries that supposedly have a shortage of labor.

    I did finally get that job I was looking for, so my situation will improve over the long term. But I do think about some of the others that are out there still struggling, and I would ask you to think of them as well.

  •  Discretionary income... (0+ / 0-)

    Would the 15% cap on student loan payments apply to Direct Loans, only, or would it also apply to private student loans, such as "LawLoan" from the Access group, or another professional school loan? (noting that the private student loan lenders are protected from insolvency in just the same way the Federal lending program is)

    Thanks for your help, Senator!

  •  As a student and a Bay Stater, I'm SOO (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    proud to have you as my Senator! Keep it up Ted!

    Barack Obama '08: Because a Generation's Faith in Government Depends On It. Georgetown University Democrats Blog

    by klugerEsel5 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 07:22:15 PM PDT

  •  My student loan horror story. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, Builderman

    I graduated from high school in 1981.  At the time I was looking for colleges, I was planning a career in either Elementary or Secondary Education.  At that time, I was the eldest of six children and three more of my siblings would be of college age within the next four years. I must point out that due to the very high interest rates in the late 1970s, there was not a lot of discretionary income available for my family, and if memory serves me correctly, the gross household income during this period was around $20-30K.

    My horror story starts in about May 1981, when my parents received the Financial Award information based on the form submitted earlier that year.  Due to the obnoxious cuts initiated by the Reagan administration, the income ceiling for Pell Grants (which did not take into consideration the rest of the manditory household expenditures) ended up being a few hundred dollars less than my parents' income, so the desperately needed funding here was not available in this first year.  Making matters worse was the fact that each subsequent year, the ceiling kept being lowered such that even in my last year of college, with potentially four children in college, no one in my family would receive a dime in Federal Grant money.

    The lack of grant money, in and of itself, is not the sum total of my horrible experience.  It was, however, the main determinant for all that followed.    A clerical error by the college I attended, while I was at one of their "study abroad" programs, caused the loans I had to take out through the state loan program to be placed in default.  After several months of corrective exchanges, this situation was corrected but caused me a great deal of harm after I was rejected, both times at the very last minute, to serve with the Peace Corps and as an Air Traffic Controller.

    In the end, after having to obtain a second Bachelor's Degree after another four years in school (I finally qualified for Federal Grants from an income perspective, but was disallowed due to the fact that I already had one Bachelor's Degree), I was nearly $40K in debt.  Going through college knowing that this amount would come due was the main determinant in my changing away from a degree in Education, and even after about 20 years removed from these college years I still have a few thousand yet to pay off.

    -8.88, -7.77 "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" --Marx

    by wordene on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 07:47:40 PM PDT

  •  Academic Medical Universities Corrupt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, pmob5977

    Dear Senator Kennedy,

    Did you know that the average age of first NIH grant award has gone from 31-43 in about the same number of years?  Do you know how this has happened in spite of a doubling of the NIH budget in recent years?  Do you know how difficult it has become for young American scientists and academics?  

    You should begin investigations of our major Universities.  You would find a myriad of shocking problems besides tuition and student loans.  By fixing the University system, you could fix several problems in our society that relate to Education, Foreign Immigration (Racism), and by putting more power in the hands of the PhD in medical science, you would solve alot of the problems with Health Care in this country.

    Please...Put the Medicine back in Doctor and the Science back in PhD.  Get the Insurance and Pharma companies out of Medical Decisions.  Let the Doctors do Health Care and some Science.  Let the PhDs Drive the Science.  The system is a catastrophe and I would not doubt that there are foreign terrorist MDs and PhDs in our midst as in London recently.  In fact, I know it.  We are watching GREED destroy our country and no one seems to care in Washington.

  •  As a student, let me thank you, Senator. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You and George Miller are true champions of students, as are all of your Democratic colleagues.

    As someone who relies on student loans, I say "Thank You, Senator Kennedy."

  •  Go right to government loans. Nothing else works. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's like all the complex tweaks to our failed health care system. They don't work unless we cut out the private insurance companies that take money from health care providers and patients.

    Same for student loans. What cuts the cost to the public and provides students with maximum low interest loans is getting rid of private banks siphoning off taxpayer dollars and student loan dollars.

    Fix the problem. Get rid of private banks making money off taxpayers and students, money that could have gone to education.

  •  Senator/staff (0+ / 0-)

    I hope your staff reads this.

    What about the Dream Act?

  •  Why are there not 10,000 comments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in this thread?  Quite honestly, I am surprised more are affected by this issue.  I hear horror stories every day and I know there are over 100,000 users of this site. 10,000 would only represent 10% of DK users.  Am I missing something or do most here have it easy acquiring a higher education.

    Bush's Last Day - 01-20-2009 -6.25 -5.85

    by pmob5977 on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:18:57 PM PDT

  •  I don't even know where to start. (0+ / 0-)

    When I first went to college, I had to call myself a dependent, even though I was living on my own and receiving absolutely no help from my parents.  I ended up dropping out and going to work for awhile.  When I was 21, I figured out what I really wanted to do but I was still considered a dependent of my parents, even after not living with them or getting any money from them for the 3 years prior.  

    When I married at 23, I was finally able to say that I was independent and go back to college, but all of my savings paid for exactly one class at a community college.  The college I'm at now is a private school that is perfect for me but I've already racked up almost $30k in debt; my husband has about $15-20k in debt from his own education but there is no way to acknowledge our combined debt load in order to reduce it somewhat.  We own an online business and have several other jobs in order to support ourselves, and are always looking for other ways to make more.  As a result of all this work (and to give us more time to pay off more of his debts while I still don't have to pay on mine), I reduced my hours at school, but now that I'm less than full-time, I'm no longer eligible for a small but important academic excellence grant that I used to get.  In my chosen field, anthropology, a Master's is better than a Bachelor's degree, but I have no idea how I could afford it, let alone find the time to do it.  At this point, we're assuming that, when I graduate, I will get yet another job, and the entire paycheck will go to paying off our loans.  In the meantime, tuition just keeps going up...

    My younger brother is just entering high school and wants to go to college.  I'm seriously considering advising him to skip college altogether; it's too expensive for him if he was going now, and I can't imagine it will be any better in 4 years.

    Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

    by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:27:56 PM PDT

    •  I should add (0+ / 0-)

      that while my school keeps increasing tuition, they have also built about 10 new buildings, including a new administration building and tons of apartments.  They are supposedly closing the dorms (in spite of students' protests) and I have spoken to a few rather disillusioned professors as well.  

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:37:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  long time Massachusetts resident here (0+ / 0-)

    keep up the good work!

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:41:28 PM PDT

    •  i also have trouble paying my student loans (0+ / 0-)

      from a mid-life graduate degree in a helping profession that doesn't pay well, but I think the young people just starting out need more help than I do.

      thanks for caring about education loan reform, and I know I can count on you to vote the right way in the various Senate showdowns to come!

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:45:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would like to see the federal Government (0+ / 0-)

    investigate for-profit technical schools. They pray on the poorest communities, charge outrageous rates and graduate very few students. It is a scam tony Soprano would be proud of. The poorest kids, going into tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt, that ultimatey we the tax payers pay for because these kids rarely graduate let alone get jobs that can pay off the debt. The only ones that make out are these scam schools that the government keeps payig while they produce nothing.

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

    by Tanya on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:43:12 PM PDT

  •  You are usually on the right side of an issue... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, SecondComing

    How could you sell out those same students after graduation by supporting the huge increase in H-1B visas in your immigration bill?   Add in Rangel negotiating secret trade deals and Obey supporting more money for abstinence only programs, and I sometimes think you guys have totally lost touch with reality.  You need to remember the middle/working class IN this country, regardless of national origin, and get back to the roots of this party.  It is about FDR, opportunity, and populism.  Enough is enough.    

    No justice, no peace.

    by dkmich on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:54:16 PM PDT

    •  And (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SecondComing, dkmich

      As long as the minimum wage is still below the living wage in most of the country, students are going to struggle to afford college. And, as long as we are giving away jobs to other countries we can't support a real minimum wage.

      Fix the economic problems first. And, to do that, you are going to have to impeach both Bush and Cheney before we can have anyone in the White House willing to negotiate on an equal basis.

      The Democratic Party has sold out the Democrats in this country. They don't support the Bill of Rights. They don't support the working class. They don't support sensible environmental controls. They don't even support peace. If left to their own devices, they'd get all their money from big corporations and sell all their votes to them.

  •  Sen. Kennedy, National Health Alert, Help!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Dear Sir, I don't know if you are aware of this potential Health Diaster to our Poor, but you can help greatly !!

    Please follow this link and read about Medicaid Drug Benefits that could be lost to Millions on Oct.1.

    To others who have read it, it has been updated with some new info.

    -8.63 -7.28 Ask " The Question "

    by OneCrankyDom on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 10:04:21 PM PDT

  •  It's not a horror story per se (0+ / 0-)

    But it's just a simple statement on my part.

    I borrowed $30,000 to get my undergraduate degree and my paralegal license after that.  Unfortunately, while I got a good job, I also had medical and transportation-related expenses that ate away at my monthly income.  Then I was diagnosed with diabetes (more bills) and had to pay more of my income on rent than any other single expense.  Between 2003 and 2006, while I lived in Southern California, I paid between 55 - 65% of my monthly income on housing.  Quite often, it came down to a choice between which utility bill I could pay for the month just so that I could eat and put gas in the car.

    I was able to put my loan in deference for 5 years.  That ended in 2004, and by then my loan had increased from $30,000 to $45,000.  My monthly payment of $336--which I couldn't afford in 1999--was now at $500, which I definitely couldn't afford in 2004.

    Sallie Mae sold my loan in 2004 to Educational Direct.  They tacked on fees that brought my loan up to $69,000.  Aghast, I turned to Great Lakes, thinking this lender would help to cut my fees.  My loan ballooned instead to another $10,000.  There's nothing I can do about this; I am now nearly $80,000 in debt on my original student loan.

    I now live in Phoenix, where that sum of money can buy you a fairly decent condo or townhouse.  But I don't think of the student loan as the price of a house I bought that I'll never see.  It's more like having had a limb amputated in an operation I can't remember, with no rehabilitation provided.

    I have no problem with paying the principal of the loan.  I would be willing to pay the $45K amount of accumulated interest & principal.  However, the fees  are uncalled for, and a clear case of profiteering on a bad situation.

    Senator Kennedy, I hope you can bring people like me some relief.  We need it badly.

  •  My son (0+ / 0-)

    My wife and I just had to borrow 7 thousand dollars for his first year in a fairly low budget local college. We applied for all the Pells and grants available .  We still had to borrow over 7 grand. Im disabled on Social Security disabilty, and my wife works for seven bucks an hour full time.   We make about 20 grand a year and have two children and a house and all the bills that go with that . I will do anything I can to get my children educated and I wish our government could help out more with the costs of a college education . This 7 thousand dollars we are borrowing will probably bankrupt us , adding another monthly payment to an already strapped budget. We juggle bills already so adding another payment is going to make it nearly impossible..
    Thanks for all you do Senator Kennedy. I know how hard you try.

  •  A wish for a much better conversation... (0+ / 0-) which our students bound for higher education do so with an outlook of low or no cost.

  •  A Horror Story (0+ / 0-)
    Horror story, brief version.

    Not dirt poor, but way not rich.  Attended public uni, working and going to uni when I had time for six years for a BA in psych.  Aiming to help improve the lives of people.  Took out one loan in my last year to be able to focus intensively on studies.  Loan was 5 grand, 7% interest, payable over ten years after deferments from any future education ended.  Aced my last year, got into 9 of 11 grad programs applied to, chose the only one that didn't offer (didn't have in my specialization, org psych) fellowships, TAs, or any other from of grad assistance.  Did so to be near my family after a few years away.  Registrar sent admission forms and deferment forms to my lender, an S&L in Florida.  Oops! Wrong versions of the deferment forms!  S&L immediately defaulted the loan (they were under no oversight, Sen. Kennedy, as you will surely recall), applied to US Dept. of Education for full interest and principle they'd have had to wait years for otherwise. DoEd paid up, went after me, froze my records, hit me up immediately for eight grand that I didn't have, and I couldn't even find a half-decent job to pay for someone else's mistake because of bad credit and no records available to prove I'd ever even been to uni, much less with a degree and with top marks.

    So I was left behind the eight-ball, and hadn't even bargained for a game of billiards!  Never recovered in the US, but finally escaped to the former Soviet Union where I'm able to do what I intended to do, and where they care mostly about results anyway.  I get good results, every single time, and even with your (US) money!  So thanks for that!

    American education prepared me very well, all things told, for success in the Evil Empire.  Who would've thought?  Thanks again.

    My name is not Kafka, but it might as well be.  Know what I mean?

    I'd like to maybe return to the US someday and make a positive difference there, but I'm not fond of poverty, being shit on, and playing behind the eight-ball in a game I didn't start to begin with.

    I've mentioned something about this on this forum before, got accused of whining and otherwise largely ignored, so I figured this is maybe a lot of Republicans or something hanging out and being unusually weird even for Republicans.  That's how it seems on that count.  I had quite enough of Republican Brand Government® by 1984, when my little horror descended, so I don't bother too much with here, just in case.  Especially when people get slammed around so much for one thing or another, and especially when they get slammed for complaining about being road kill.  But I digress.

    Still, it's really nice that you asked the question, Senator Kennedy.  Really.  Thank you for doing that.


    Peace. It's cheaper and more fun.

    by USexpat Ukraine on Thu Jul 19, 2007 at 01:13:00 AM PDT

  •  my story (0+ / 0-)

    I borrowed over 35,000 dollars in the 1980s to help pay for my graduate school, and when my payments were required to begin after I got my PhD, the amount I was supposed to pay would have been close to 30% of my monthly net salary (and I had lower salaries because I chose to work in the public health area of nonprofits under contract to city government). So I had to move my loan from 10 years to 20 years, in order to make my payments affordable (but still quite a large percentage of my net salary). Now, almost 20 years later...having paid over $60,000 in INTEREST...feeling happy that I was almost done with my 20 year payment plan, only to find out that Citibank says I still have to pay five more years!! I have done a lot of public health work during this time, and the bank has made a huge profit off me, and now at 55 I am still paying. Its like a ghost. It would have been nice to have at least had a break for my public work, and had my loan capped at 15% of net income. Hey...can I still get my loan paid off for my public service, if your bill passes??

Malacandra, bink, selise, Grassroots Mom, TX Dem in DC, paradox, Ed in Montana, MrLiberal, Terri, Maccabee, coral, jillian, pb, Pacific John, taylormattd, lightiris, ultrageek, ferg, natasha, Adam B, timber, klugerEsel5, Joan McCarter, Hlinko, Gator, philgoblue, artr2, whataboutbob, Dems2004, dday, democat, shayera, martianchronic, Zomanji, John Campanelli, tryptamine, LuLu, x, velvetdays, lzachary, musicsleuth, mataliandy, Poika, ralphie, alain2112, Xeno of Elia, bronte17, super simian, dianem, 88kathy, conchita, bonddad, groggy, SecondComing, Ti Jean, whenwego, Loquatrix, mxwing, muledriver, Transmission, Darksyde888, JuliaAnn, cognitive dissonance, Miss Blue, BruinKid, ornerydad, Spindizzy, rioduran, enough already, splashy, Alna Dem, sele, Chrisfs, Tomtech, WeatherDem, Dube, sockpuppet, TexDem, oldjohnbrown, Dallasdoc, missliberties, MKS, wordene, kevin22262, Nina, Stampy51, cosette, Caldonia, BMarshall, noveocanes, Civil Defense, wecandoit7, lcrp, coigue, SingleVoter, WV Democrat, Curt Matlock, Eckhart1234, DrReason, andyj2287, Marianne Benz, edavis, bibble, murrayewv, oortdust, Gowrie Gal, ebbinflo, rapala, vcmvo2, sarahlane, Skennet Boch, joanneleon, Los Diablo, tovan, cantwait08, Bluesee, farleftcoast, 3goldens, Lenawee Liberal, Elise, enough, baccaruda, revbludge, ek hornbeck, ignorant bystander, nape, sc kitty, andgarden, Jersey Girl, tgray, barbwire, YucatanMan, ratzo, BrenP, Chaoslillith, Pam from Calif, EconAtheist, washingtonsmith, aaraujo, kocsjl54, GreyHawk, cassidy3, annefrank, BobOak, Rydra Wrong, wiscmass, pmob5977, JanL, Ekaterin, xanthippe2, soyinkafan, simplicio, Reality Bites Back, forbodyandmind, Shirley P, Jennifer Clare, kraant, Keone Michaels, PatsBard, vigilant meerkat, testvet6778, BlueInARedState, emeraldmaiden, Ellicatt, daMule, compbear, Marcus Tullius, zigeunerweisen, tecampbell, OneCrankyDom, CF Perez, CTLiberal, Potus2020, mhw, TayTay, ilyana, DemocraticLuntz, Dianna, Jbearlaw, Dreaming of Better Days, djalix976, pkbarbiedoll, bstotts, Friend of the court, pseudopod, Land of Lincoln Dem, slksfca, markthshark, AndrewOG, AntKat, BentLiberal, Abraham Running For Congress When I Turn 25, anotherdemocrat, Cronesense, Cocker Mom, godislove, gloriana, Positronicus, kath25, flumptytail, Jimdotz, RosyFinch, jhop7, Snakes on a White House, keikekaze, MichiganGirl, Bikemom, willb48, Me Again, TomP, Lobsters, alba, Fungible Chattel, jgilhousen, rogerdaddy, mconvente, VelvetElvis, Spoonfulofsugar, berkeleymike, BlueStateLiberal, Unbill, brklyngrl, ScottyUrb, KnowVox, Dave Montoya, bricoleur, lineatus, terrapin station84, Residentcynic, Archangel, EducationforAll, North Country Dem, Lujane, Runs With Scissors, Berkeley Vox, Quicksilver2723, sarainchicago, Chrispy67, Jail the BFEE, dantyrant, Victory Coffee, politicalteen89, Groucho Marxist, echatwa

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