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For Immediate Release January 6, 2014

Astounding "Tuition Reserves" not limited to Wisconsin

Last year, it was reported that the University of Wisconsin had amassed between $400 million- $1 billion in funding, money taken from excess tuition income- most of which was supplied through the nation's federal student loan program.   This "reserve" was built during a time where the University raised it's tuition at a record pace and pointed to the national economic crisis as justification for these actions.

It has since been reported that this practice of siphoning tuition income was not limited to the University of Wisconsin.  In fact, it is overwhelmingly evident that most, if not all universities in this country have been engaging in similar practices. The following (courtesy of the University of Wisconsin) is a an incomplete snapshot showing the level of "tuition reserves" amassed by other, similarly sized universities over the past several years*.  

These data, if accurate, point to a cumulative tuition "slush fund" of hundreds of billions of dollars, nationwide.  These are not endowments.  These are not charitable funds collected via the altruisim of alumni, foundations, or other wealthy benefactors.  These are monies siphoned- at least in part- from the most vulnerable citizens at a time when the wealth disparity between the richest Americans, and these citizens has never been higher.

It is still unknown how much tuition income was used to build these reserves, It is also unknown how these reserves have grown over time.  These are questions that local media, state legislatures, university governing boards, citizen's groups, and other stakeholders should investigate thoroughly to find out precisely how deep and how wide this abuse of the citizenry goes.    

Make no mistake:  Under current law, student loans are the ONLY type of loan in our nation's history to be stripped of nearly all standard consumer protections, including bankruptcy, statutes of limitations, and many others.  This, generally, has caused serious lapses in oversight, perversions of financial motivations systemwide, and has encouraged flagrant wealth-making off the student's backs by the schools, lenders, and even the federal government.   

This is not a partisan issue.  This also should not be considered an opportunity for the federal government to exact a toll while doing nothing for the citizens who are being harmed (as has happened in the past).   The U.S. Congress should, and must return standard bankruptcy protections, as a first step towards addressing not only this issue, but a litany of other systemic failings that the absence of these protections has enabled


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