Author Calls For Student Loan Boycott

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/09/2015 | 03:00 PM EDT

Lee Siegel wonders why borrowers can't file bankruptcy

Should American debtors be able to file bankruptcy from their student loans? Author Lee Siegel sure thinks so.


In fact, Siegel has admittedly defaulted on his loans, and is on a campaign to convince others to do the same. His argument: Many of the country’s most famous multi-millionaires, including Donald Trump, have declared bankruptcy. So why, he asks, is it only an issue when student loan borrowers avoid paying back their debt?


In a New York Times piece, Siegel falls short of calling for an outright student loan boycott, but makes the case that such a national boycott, if you will, would be a good way to protest the unfairly expensive education system.


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"I do think that in an ideal situation, it would not be the worst thing in the world to have a national boycott like that," Siegel said.


Siegel said his decision to default on his own loans was based on a conclusion that the U.S. student debt system is fundamentally unfair. He points out that student debtors have fewer options for reorganizing their debts compared to wealthier debtors.


"It is a fact that student loans are the only kind of debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy," Siegel said.


Siegel said his default was the result of choosing a career he was passionate about.


"I decided not to go into the Army or anything like that in order to pay off my loans," Siegel said. "I decided that I would become what I wanted to become and I went into default. And I suffered because of that. I do think that for me that was a better choice than having to go harness myself in a job or three jobs to pay off a loan that I found pointless and overbearing.”


Addressing the skyrocketing national student loan debt and the high cost of a college education has become a top political priority among Democratic politicians and activists. Legislation has already been introduced in Congress that would allow student debtors to refinance their loans at lower rates.


Total student loan debt reached $1.2 trillion in the last quarter of 2014.



(Photo: Tim Pannell/Corbis)

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