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The StudentLoanJustice.Org Bus Tour

The Student Loan Justice Bus Tour began in January, 2007, and finished in June. the purpose of the tour was to raise consciousness about the injustices that are occuring within the student loan industry, and how decent citizens have suffered as a result. The bus tour visited the home districts of nearly every member of the new House and Senate Education Committees, gathered new members along the way, spoke to interested groups and conferences, and generated support for the newly formed Student Loan Justice Political Action Committee. The tour started in University Place, Washington, and finished in Washington, D.C.

 

Tour Blog

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Hey Everyone,
 
The StudentLoanJustice.Org bus is now back in University Place, WA, safe and sound.  I will give some wrap-up stats for the tour in a second, but first...
 
In the past week, we have been quoted, or SLJ members have been featured in at least 3 additional pieces (see below):
 
 
 
Private Loans Deepen a Crisis in Student Debt, Diana Schemo, New York Times June 9th:
 
This piece importantly brings out the bankruptcy issue for student loans, that AG Cuomo commented on this week...
 
Student Loan Practices at IU Draw Scrutiny , Maureen Groppe, Gannett News Service, June 9th
 
--By the way,  Kevin Dixon pretty much singlehandedly made this piece happen, so we owe him thanks for that.
 
Burnt Chefs, Eliza Strickland, San Francisco Weekly, June 6th (Top Story)
 
-This investigative piece goes to the heart of SLJ's "worst offending School".  Thanks to all you who contributed, and I hope it goes a long way...I don't think this is the last we will see regarding this school.
 
 
 
Bus Tour Wrap-Up:
 
I have to say that I am more than satisfied with how thew tour went.  Some notable statistics from the tour:
 
Miles traveled:  22,500
States visted:  42
Education Committee members visited in their home districts:  60 (out of 70)
# of public appearances:  5
# of Radio Interviews:  5
# of Newpaper articles that quoted us, or featured our members during the tour:  A TON  (See below)
# of student loan companies who agreed to change their collection policy as a direct result of our efforts:  1  (This is written up here)
# of flat tires on trip:  5
 
This is a partial sampling of pieces that we were either quoted in, or our members were featured in (in addition to those above)
 
1.  Probe Launched on Sallie Mae Collection Tactics, Amit Paley, The Washington Post, April 27th, 2007 (Front Page, Business Section)
 
This detailed collection abuses that the Senate has found from borrowers, and asked Sallie Mae about.  If the abuses look famiiar, they should.  They largely came from SLJ members.  A couple of our members were featured in this piece, and for good reason.
 
 
2.  Student Loan Agency Faces New Scrutiny , Carrie Sturrock, San Francisco Chronicle, May 16th, 2007 (Front Page)
 
This piece was a long time in the making, and featured two of our members.  This piece really begins to address the question of the predatory activities of the guarantors, which many of us have had first hand experiences with.
 
3.  'Top Chef' Dreams Crushed by Student Loan Debt , Kim Severson, New York Times, May 8th, 2007 (Front Page)
 
This piece details some of the extraordinary high interest loans that are being doled out by culinary schools across the country.  Great piece.  Our members are featured, and we are quoted.
 
4.  Sallie Mae Reaps Benefits From Ties to Key Agency, Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7th, 2007
 
We are quoted in this piece.  Paul Basken is proving to be an extremely talented reporter.  He later uncovered some very helpful activities that ED employees performed on behalf of student loan companies.  I don't think this is that last we will hear from Mr. Basken.
 
5.  Law favors gambler Over Grad, Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun Times, May 6th, 2007
 
There are actually 3 pieces by Mr. Newbart that address this problem.  One of our members, Richard, is profiled in one of these pieces.  Please google newbart, and student loans to see the collection.  Very hard hitting pieces.  Richard:  You now have the clout to go banging on Barack's door.  Please do it...I can confirm that their offices are wheelchair accessible!
 
6.  Lending to Students a Gold Mine for Creditors, David Washburn, San Diego Times Union, April 24th, 2007
 
 
7.  The Poverty Business, Ben Day, BusinessWeek, May 21st 
 
Our member are featured here.  Very good piece that gets at the more important issues.
 
 
8.  Bad Debt Pays off in Loan Industry, Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 13th, 2007
 
 
Quick Thoughts:
 
In my view, the most relevant events that occured during the tour
 
1.  Probe Launched on Sallie Mae Collection Tactics,
 
This was a direct result of our borrowers stories
 
2.  Student-loan agency may aid bankrupt borrowers
 
This was a direct result of SLJ members (Denise Chambliss and others) who contacted the CEO of ISAC, combined with coverage in the chicago Sun Times by Dave Newbart.
 
3.  Attorney General Cuomo specifically said that Congress should revisit the bankruptcy laws for student loans AT A MINIMUM.  You can google this to hear the interview on NPR.  Remember that it was our members in NY and NJ who, last year, implored Eliot Spitzer to launch an investigation on student loans. 
 
 
Also, I should say here thast trying to get through to the education staffers on the hill was ridiculously hard to do.  I don't really think that they get it, on the whole.  I sent out their email addresses in my last update.  Please do what you can to make them feel your pain (if you are a constituent, or close to their districts).  Perhaps we planted some seeds with them, but I sure wasn't feeling much from them for all of the trouble of going.
 
Don't forget, guys, that despite all the good sounding rhetoric, all student loan legislation that has been proposed up to this point does NOTHING for those of us who have been dealing with exploded defaulted loans for years, or decades, and very little for ANYONE who has already graduated college, and need standard consumer protections like, oh, say...the ability to refinance the debt under better terms, bankruptcy protections (for the most severe cases), and a statute of limitations on the debt.  These are protections that credit cards, payday loans, and all other debt instruments have.  I don't think it's too much to ask for student loans.  Particularly in view of the excessive profits that are being generated in the industry, and the lives that are being destroyed by the predatory relationships that now existing between the borrowers, and the lenders.
 
So Thats it for now.  I will have a budget update on the PAC in my next email.  It may not be pretty, with the mileage that we racked up over and above what i was expecting, but we will see.

 

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June 3rd, Elkhart, IN

 

Hey Everyone,
 
The tour is now in Elkhart, Indiana.  We finished up our 8 days in Washington, and spent the day on Wednesday with the CEO and staff of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. 
 
The Washington visits were... just ok.  I frankly was less than impressed with most of the education staffers on the hill, but I think we made a few impressions in the right places.  My general impression was that they were quite happy to remain interested in the issues that the media has driven- namely, the preferred lender arrangements that have been exposed recently, and had little interest on addressing the millions of people who have already been through the system, and are having their lives ruined by exploded debt.  Hopefully I am wrong. This is where your contacting these people really becomes important.
 
I was pretty impressed that the Pennsylvania Student Loan Agency was interested in meeting with me.  We had almost 5 hours straight of frank an honest dialogue, and they were clearly concerned with what I told them.  Hopefully this will come to something tangible in the future for us (like what is happening in Illinois), but only time will tell.
 
In any event, Below are all the email addresses for relevant education staffers that I could find.  If you have some that are not on the list, please forward to me:
 
Barack Obama  230 South Dearborn St. Chicago IL 60604 (312) 886-3506 steven_robinson@obama.senate.gov
Barbara A. Mikulski      MD       christopher_fick@mikulski.senate.gov
Bernard Sanders (I)  1 Church St.  Burlington VT 05401 802-862-0697     
Bob Inglis 105 N. Spring St. Greenville SC 29601 864-232-1141 april april.evans@mail.house.gov
bobby jindal             bill.cody@mail.house.gov
Carol Shea Porter 33 Lowell Street Manchester NH 03101 6036419536    
Carolyn McCarthy 200 Garden City Plaza Garden City NY 11530 (516) 739-3008  perre.smalls@mail.house.gov
Cathy McMorris Rodgers 10 North Post Spokane WA 99201 5093532374   jaime.herrera@mail.house.gov
Charles Boustany 800 Lafayette Street Lafayette LA 70501 (337) 235-6322 mike.thompson@mail.house.gov
Christopher Dodd  30 Lewis St Hartford CT 06103 8602586940   kate_wasserman@dodd.senate.gov
Dale Kildee 432 N. Saginaw St. Flint MI 48502 (810) 239-1437  
Danny Davis 333 West Arthington St. Chicago Il 60624 7735337520    
Dave Loebsack 125 South Dubuque Street Iowa City IA 52240 3193510789   kara.marchione@mail.house.gov
David Davis 320 West Center Street Kingsport TN 37660 4232478161   megan.caldwell@mail.house.gov
David Wu 620 SW Main Portland OR 97205 5033262901    
Dennis Kucinich 14400 Detroit Ave Lakewood OH 44107 (216) 228-8850 marian.carey@mail.house.gov
Donald Payne 50 Walnut Street Newark NJ 07102 (973) 645-3213 laverne.alexander@Qmail.house.gov
Edward Kennedy  2400 JFK Building Boston MA 02203 6175653170   jd_larock@help.senate.gov
George Miller 3220 Blume Drive Richmond CA 94806 510-262-6500   gabriel.gomez@mail.house.gov
Hillary Clinton 780 Third Ave New York NY 10017 (212) 688-6262 mildred_otero@clinton.senate.gov
Howard  Mckeon 26650 The Old Road Santa Clarita CA 91381 661-254-2111    
Jack Reed  201 Hillside Road Cranston RI 02920 (401) 943-3100 nancy  
Jason Altmire 2110 McLean St. Aliquippa PA 15001 (202) 225-2565 bennett.reed@mail.house.gov
Jeff Bingaman 505 South Main las cruces NM 88001 5055236561   michael_yudin@bingaman.senate.gov
Joe Courtney 2 Courthouse Square norwich CT 06360 8608860139   sheila.duffy@mail.house.gov
Joe Sestak 600 N. Jackson Street Media PA 19063 (610) 892-8623 christopher.raymond@mail.house.gov
Joe Wilson 1700 Sunset Blvd West Columbia SC 29169 (803) 939-0041 melissa.chandler@mail.house.gov
John F. Tierney 17 Peabody Square Peabody MA 01960 9785311669    
John Kline 101 W. Burnsville Pkwy burnsville MN 55337 952-808-1213   casey.buboltz@mail.house.gov
John Sarbanes 44 Calvert Street Annapolis MD 21401 (202) 225-4016 delicia.reynolds@mail.house.gov
John Yarmuth 600 Martin Luther King Jr. Place Louisville KY 40202 5025825129    
Johnny Isakson  3625 Cumberland Blvd Atlanta GA 30339 7706610999 Jason  
Judd Gregg  125 North Main Street Concord NH 03301 6032257115   allison_dembeck@gregg.senate.gov
Judy Biggert 6262 South Route 83 Willowbrook IL 60527 6306552052    
Kenny Marchant 9901 East Valley Ranch Parkway Irving TX 75063 972-556-0162   ryan.flood@mail.house.gov
Lamar Alexander  167 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103 9015444224   elizabeth_howell@alexander.senate.gov
Linda T. Sanchez 17906 Crusader Ave Cerritos CA 90703 562-860-5050   celeste.drake@mail.house.gov
Lynn Woolsey 1101 College Avenue Santa Rosa CA 95404 707-542-7182   anita.franzi@mail.house.gov
Mark Souder E. Ross Adair Federal Building Fort Wayne IN 46802 2604243041   brett.swearingen@mail.house.gov
Michael B. Enzi 
400 S. Kendrick Avenue
Gillette
WY
82716
3076826268   beth_buehlmann@help.senate.gov
Mike Castle 300 South New Street Dover DE 19904 (302) 736-1666  
Nancy Pelosi* 450 Golden Gate Ave San Francisco CA 94102 415-556-4862    
Orrin G. Hatch  125 South State Street Salt Lake City UT 84138 8015244380    
Pat Roberts  444 SE Quincy Topeka KS 66683 7852952745    
Patty Murray  915 2nd Avenue Seattle WA 98174 (206) 553-5545 kathryn_young@murray.senate.gov
Pete Hoekstra 184 South River Avenue Holland MI 49423 6163950030   katherine.haley@mail.house.gov
Phil Hare 1535  47th Avenue Moline Il 61265 3097935760    
Randy John Kuhl 22 Buell Street Bath/elmira NY 14810 6077769142    
Raul Grijalva 810 E. 22nd St. Tucson AZ 85713 (520)622-6788   ruben.reyes@mail.house.gov
Ric Keller 605 East Robinson Street Orlando FL 32801 4078721962   lucy.house@mail.house.gov
Richard Burr  2000 West First Street winston-Salem NC 27104 3366315125   karey_haywood@burr.senate.gov
Rob Bishop 324 25th St. Ogden UT 84401 80162520107    
Robert Andrews 506-A White Horse Pike Haddon Heights NJ 08035 856-546-5100    
Robert C. Scott 2600 Washington Ave. Newport News  VA 23607 (757) 380-1000   erin.davies@mail.house.gov
Ruben Hinjosa 2864 West Trenton Road Edinburg TX 78539 (956) 682-5545 moira.lenehan@mail.house.gov
Rush Holt 50 Washington Rd West Windsor NJ 08550 609-750-9365   christopher.hartmann@mail.house.gov
Sherrod Brown  600 East Superior Avenue Cleveland OH 44114 216-522-7272   william_jawando@brown.senate.gov
Susan A. Davis 4305 University Avenue San Diego CA 92105 619-280-5353   spencer.young@mail.house.gov
Thomas Petri 2390 State Road 44 oshkosh wi 54904 9202316333    
Tim Bishop 3680 Route 112 Coram NY 11727 6316966500   joanna.serra@mail.house.gov
Tim Walberg 800 W Ganson Jackson MI 49202 5177809075   bruce.miller@mail.house.gov
Tom Coburn, M.D.  1800 South Baltimore Tulsa OK 74119 9185817651    
Tom Harkin  210 Walnut Street Des Moines IA 50309 (515) 284-4574  bev_schroeder@harkin.senate.gov
Tom Price 3730 Roswell Road Marietta GA 30062 770-565-4990  jeff  
Vernon Ehlers 110 Michigan Street Grand Rapids MI 49503 6164518383    
virginia Foxx 6000 Meadowbrook Mall  Clemmons  NC 27012 3367780211 rebecca erica.shrader@mail.house.gov
Wayne Allard  111 S. Tejon Colorado Springs CO 80903 7196346071    
Yvette Clarke             bridgette.dehart@mail.house.gov
rahm Emmanuel 3742 w. irving park rd. Chicago IL 60618 7732675926   lauren.aronson@mail.house.gov
john boehner             stephanie.milburn@mail.house.gov
Dick Durbin             sirat_attapit@durbin.senate.gov
John Larson             jackie.primeau@mail.house.gov
Steve King     IA       jeff.wiseman@mail.house.gov
Chris Van Hollen     MD       sarah.schenning@mail.house.gov
patrick tiberi             kelli.briggs@mail.house.gov
 
 
 
That's it for now.  We should be back in Washington Stte in a few days...
 
KEEP FIGHTING!!!

 

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May 25th, College Park, MD

Hey Everyone,
 
 
The StudentLoanJustice.Org PAC is currently in Washington D.C., meeting with both Senate and House members of the respective Education Committees.  The widespread media coverage that we have enjoyed in the past month has helped alot, and we apparently have quite a bit of "political capital" built up. 
 
Our message- whether meeting with D or R offices-has been the same:  current proposed legislation does almost nothing for borrowers who have seen their loan balances explode to ridiculous proportions.  Our agenda remains the same, and we must all, individually, endeavor to convince our lawmakers to right what that which has so sorely wronged us over the last decade or more.
 
1.  Speaking of individual efforts:  Huge credit is in order for Denise of Maryland.  Denise wrote a very concise, and otherwise well written response to an editorial by the executive Director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC).  After a couple of interchanges with Mr. Davis, StudentLoanjustice received the following email:
 
 
"...I have also asked  our general counsel's office to make proposals to me for adoption by our commission that would limit the Maximum borrower responsibility in bankruptcy to the original principal borrowed. ie waiving penalties and interest.  I know we have the ability to change this policy unilaterally for our private loans. WE will investigate what flexibility  we may have in the federally guaranteed loans.  I appreciate the continued input, comment , and critique.
AD..."
This is a very large movement here, folks.  The fact that Mr. Davis is interested in granting this kind of common sense fairness to borrowers is potentially a massive step forward for this movement.  It is our hope that ISAC will indeed be able to get this done.  This will be groundbreaking, and other guarantors  throughout the nation will be compelled to follow his lead.  So huge thanks to Denise for this effort, and please use this as inspiration for your own efforts.
 
2.  State leaders.  We now have volunteer state leaders for the states of California (Northern and Southern), New York, Iowa, and Maryland, and Arizona.  All other states are open.  If you have the passion to lead your state in this, let me know.  This doesnt require a huge amount of work, but does require a strong desire to get things done with your legislators, and fellow borrowers in your state.
 
3.  Keep the donations coming.  We are significantly in the red at this point (By about $2000).  This is a bit worse than I was expecting at this point, and so every contribution counts.  I am confident that all wil pencil out in the end, but your support really matters.
 
4.  Again, there are a gaggle of media efforts underway.  I will announce these as they come to press, or go on air.
 
 
 
More soon.  KEEP FIGHTING.
 
 
Alan

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May 22nd, College Park, MD

Hey Everyone-
 
The StudentLoanJustice.Org bus tour is now within the beltway.  We hit the Senate offices tomorrow and Thursday, and will be turning our attention to the House through next Tuesday.  Heather from New York has joined us, and others will be converging upon D.C. in the coming week.  I must say:    It has been an extraordinarily good month, in terms of press coverage.  Either we or our members have been written about in top stories for a number of reputable news publications in the past month, including (In no particular order):
 
1.  Probe Launched on Sallie Mae Collection Tactics, Amit Paley, The Washington Post, April 27th, 2007 (Front Page, Business Section)
 
This detailed collection abuses that the Senate has found from borrowers, and asked Sallie Mae about.  If the abuses look famiiar, they should.  They largely came from SLJ members.  A couple of our members were featured in this piece, and for good reason.
 
 
2.  Student Loan Agency Faces New Scrutiny , Carrie Sturrock, San Francisco Chronicle, May 16th, 2007 (Front Page)
 
This piece was a long time in the making, and featured two of our members.  This piece really begins to address the question of the predatory activities of the guarantors, which many of us have had first hand experiences with.
 
3.  'Top Chef' Dreams Crushed by Student Loan Debt , Kim Severson, New York Times, May 8th, 2007 (Front Page)
 
This piece details some of the extraordinary high interest loans that are being doled out by culinary schools across the country.  Great piece.  Our members are featured, and we are quoted.
 
4.  Sallie Mae Reaps Benefits From Ties to Key Agency, Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7th, 2007
 
We are quoted in this piece.  Paul Basken is proving to be an extremely talented reporter.  He later uncovered some very helpful activities that ED employees performed on behalf of student loan companies.  I don't think this is that last we will hear from Mr. Basken.
 
5.  Law favors gambler Over Grad, Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun Times, May 6th, 2007
 
There are actually 3 pieces by Mr. Newbart that address this problem.  One of our members, Richard, is profiled in one of these pieces.  Please google newbart, and student loans to see the collection.  Very hard hitting pieces.  Richard:  You now have the clout to go banging on Barack's door.  Please do it...I can confirm that their offices are wheelchair accessible!
 
6.  Lending to Students a Gold Mine for Creditors, David Washburn, San Diego Times Union, April 24th, 2007
 
 
7.  The Poverty Business, Ben Day, BusinessWeek, May 21st 
 
Our member are featured here.  Very good piece that gets at the more important issues.
 
 
8.  Bad Debt Pays off in Loan Industry, Stephen Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 13th, 2007
 
   SLJ Member Alyscia was featured in this piece.  Again, this piece really begins to ask the tough questions.  Stephen Koff has broken some extremely compelling stories in this area in the past few years, and his tenacity is highly, highly ijmpressive.  This may be the most important piece of the lot, because it looks at the guarantors, not just the lenders. 
 
 
Here is the dirty little secret:  To date, NO LEGISLATION has been proposed that addresses our problems.  With the exception of Hillary Clinton's Borrower Bill of Rights, nothing even comes close, and Clinton's Bill does little more than grant refinancing rights to those of us who have not defaulted.  While this is important to those of us whose loans remain in good stead, it does nothing for those of us whose loans have gone "nuclear".
 
This is what we're up against.  If I had to predict, I would say that this next week will be filled with low level meetings with junior staffers who don't want to address the REAL problems within the student loan industry:  The plight of those of us whose lives have been wrecked by their student loans will remain the Great Unaddressed Problem unless we act, and act forcefully.  This means that we have to push our electeds far beyond what we have yet endeavored to do.  We have built up a bit of political capital, and this should provide us with at least an entree to make our pain felt.  All of you must do it., and do it now.  We have nothing to lose.  Remember that.
 
Beyond that, we need to get state reps for this cause.  We already have leaders for the states of California (Southern), New York, Iowa, and Maryland staked out.  The rest are open.   The job descriptions for these volunteer positions are very loose:  In other words, as state leader, you can do as much or as little as you deem appropriate.  All that is required is your passion to get something done.  Let me know if this is you.  I will get you an email address, and a mailing list, and you will have complete control beyond that.  There is no pay, if you have to ask ( No one gets paid in this, by the way...).
 
One last point:  Here is the list of our enemies.  These are the people who make their fortunes by ensuring that decent people like you and I are stripped of their wealth for the sake of unearned fortunes of those in control of the student loan industry.  Thanks to Anya Kamanetz for this nugget:
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anya-kamenetz/secret-email-whos-who-i_b_48684.html
 
 
GET UP, GET OUT, and MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!!!!!

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May 7th, Clear Lake, IA

Hey Everyone,

The Tour is now in Iowa, after hitting 4 states in the last 6 days! Since the last update, our members have been featured in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, NJ Star Ledger, and others. There are a couple of big, national pieces in the hopper that I will announce when they air/go to press.

While the recent media attention has focused on improper relationships between lender/guarantors and universities, that is beginning to change and the real story- the astonishing lack of consumer protections for student loans and the effect this is having on decent people for the sake of corporate profits- is beginning to come out.

Three quick points:

1. One of our members has started a yahoo group for studentloanjustice. It seems to be really taking off. the link is;

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/StudentLoanJustice/

2. If you are in any way encouraged to default by your lender (advised not to make payments, applied for but denied a deferments, etc.), send me back a paragraph or two that clearly describes how.

3. Keep the donations coming! We are operating pretty significantly in the red at this point (by about $1500), and could use a shot in the arm prior to our arrival in D.C. next week!



That's it for now.

Alan

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April 16th, Pontiac, MI

Hey Everyone-

Sallie Mae is being acquired by B of A, and JP Morgan Chase, among others. Pretty slick move. No doubt many of the senior executives will be cashing out bigtime.

Story: http://charlotte.com/295/story/87530.html



This does not change our mission of bringing standard consumer protections to student loans. It will be harder to obtain financial information about the new private company, however.


More soon,

Alan

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April 12th, Fremont, OH

Hey Everyone,


The StudentLoanJustice Tour is now in Fremont, OH, on our way to meet with representatives from Michigan. The bus continues to function...barely, but that's ok. the engine is good, transmission is fine. All else is not important.


Bunch of items:

1. It was discovered recently that not only have a gaggle of financial Aid Administrators been found to have taken stock, and other incentives from Student lenders: A high ranking official from the Department of Education has also been implicated in a private lender stock scandal that is only now starting to come out. This is the tip of the iceberg with regards to corrupt activities folks. I guarantee it.

2. I am getting calls from 4-5 national and regional media outlets. I am on auto pilot, and am simply forwarding them emails I have received from all of you. Be ready. Be ready to tell your story, and fight for yourself. This is why I started this whole deal in the first place.

3. Remember that despite the current "heat and light" regarding the university-lender relationships, it does nothing to shine light on the inexcusable predatory situations that are currently plaguing most of us. The curent maelstrom will blow over and be forgotten in a few months time if we do not each, individually, fight to make ourselves heard. To our politicians. To the media. To ANYONE who will listen.

4. Remember guys...This is not a "watch it happen " type of deal. I can guarantee you that if you all do nothing, nothing will happen. We each need to make something happen. Maybe it is convincing a reporter in your local area to do a story. Maybe it is meeting with your representative personally to make him/her feel you pain. Maybe it is showing up at your guarantors board meetings and making public comments. Maybe it is something altogether different. I don't know. What I DO know is that if you sit back waiting for good fortune to come your way, it won't. Guaranteed. The "system" is counting on you standing down when it is most important. That time is here, and you have to ask yourself if you want to be relegated to a lifetime of ridiculous debt or if you want to something about it.

5. There are more items working in the press right now that I can really talk about. I have forwarded over 100 stories to various reporters throughout the nation recently. Hopefully more than a few of you will be called. Be ready. Be ready to tell your story. Don't be intimidated. Don't be ashamed. Tell your story for the record. It needs to be told. Hold nothing back. Here is a represenative piece published recently by Anya Kamanetz in the Village Voice:

http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/0715,kamenetz,76309,12.html

6. Find 3 people who are having similar experiences. Tell them to come here. Our numbers are growing, but we are still nearly invisible on the net, and have to rely on word of mouth to grow.

7. James Kvaal, policy advisor for John Edward told me recently to stay tuned, that the Edwards camp wil have much more to say on this subject on the near future. Apparently the email I sent him, and the messages that other SLJ members sent him, are having some positive effects.

8. If you can afford to donate to the PAC, do it. We have incurred some costs recently, such as a tow truck in Pennsylvania, and motel stay in Youngstown, OH, that were unforeseen. Also, we will be arriving in D.C. shortly, and would like to have a modest "war chest" built up to write strategic checks to key legislators. Thanks.

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April 3rd, Youngstown, OH

Hey All!

The StudentLoanJustice.Org bus tour is currently in Youngstown, Ohio.. We haver logged approximately 15,000 miles since the tour began, have visited 39 members of both House and Senate educatiom committees, have given 3 public speeches, 4 radio shows, and have been featured in 7 newspaper pieces. Not too bad. I'm looking very much forward to getting to Washington, D.C. to make a whole slew of career lobbyists who work for Sallie mae, and other student loan companies look extremely foolish in public, by doing nothing more than stating the facts about student loans.

A pretty good piece on CNN today on the Paula Zahn show regarding preferred lender arrangements, and the NY Attorney General Investigation. Her producers talked with us before the story, and hopefully will be focusing on the bigger picture soon. It is so funny how all the press regarding this almost trivial issue has come about, and yet most of the national media is oblivious to the bigger, REAL story about student loans. Oh well. Any press is good press, I guess. Keep fighting to get THE REAL story out there. It will all come out sooner or later.

One quick thought: We are all but invisible on the internet, still. Most of our new members come from Findlaw, and the big lenders have purchased most of the webspace for this issue. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to spread the word by mouth. Seek out others in your life who are dealing with this crap. Tell them to come to StudentLoanJustice.Org, and tell their story for the record.

There are tons of things perking, but I don't have anything to brag about at this moment. Some extremely intelligent, and influential peope in this debate have contacted us recently, and we are working with them. All I can say is...KEEP FIGHTING. The press is our friend, and anything we as individuals in our local areas can do to get media to cover this issue is key. Anthony in Boston has gotten the attention of the Globe. Victoria in San Diego has gotten the attention of People Magazine. There should be other pieces in about 3 BIG papers coming out in the next month or so.

Come on, guys. I'm out here humping it for zero pay, and am (in all likelihood) killing my own personal hopes of pursuing the goals that I went to college for in the first place. That's fine. I'm ok with all that. However: The LEAST you all can do is get a media story going in your local areas. It's not hard. Just think about things, pick up the phone, dial the right number, and talk to the right person, and make them FEELYOUR PAIN!!!!!!

Keep us posted.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

April 2nd, Mifflin, PA

The StudentLoanJustice.Org Bus Tour is now in Mifflin, PA. We have now completed our tour of the Eastern Seaboard, and the weather is definitely getting better, which bodes well. See the following below:

We have met with staff of the following members of Congress:



David Wu
620 SW Main
Portland
OR
97205
5033262901

George Miller
3220 Blume Drive
Richmond
CA
94806
510-262-6500

Lynn Woolsey
1101 College Avenue
Santa Rosa
CA
95404
707-542-7182

Susan A. Davis
4305 University Avenue
San Diego
CA
92105
619-280-5353

Linda T. Sanchez
17906 Crusader Ave
Cerritos
CA
90703
562-860-5050

Howard Mckeon
26650 The Old Road
Santa Clarita
CA
91381
661-254-2111

Nancy Pelosi*
450 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco
CA
94102
415-556-4862

Raul Grijalva
810 E. 22nd St.
Tucson
AZ
85713
(520)622-6788

Ruben Hinjosa
2864 West Trenton Road
Edinburg
TX
78539
(956) 682-5545

Jeff Bingaman
505 South Main
las cruces
NM
88001
5055236561

Kenny Marchant
9901 East Valley Ranch Parkway
Irving
TX
75063
972-556-0162

Charles Boustany
800 Lafayette Street
Lafayette
LA
70501
(337) 235-6322

Ric Keller
605 East Robinson Street
Orlando
FL
32801
4078721962

Johnny Isakson
3625 Cumberland Blvd
Atlanta
GA
30339
7706610999

Tom Price
3730 Roswell Road
Marietta
GA
30062
770-565-4990

Bob Inglis
105 N. Spring St.
Greenville
SC
29601
864-232-1141

Joe Wilson
1700 Sunset Blvd
West Columbia
SC
29169
(803) 939-0041

Lamar Alexander
167 North Main Street
Memphis
TN
38103
9015444224

virginia Foxx
6000 Meadowbrook Mall
Clemmons
NC
27012
3367780211

Richard Burr
2000 West First Street
winston-Salem
NC
27104
3366315125

Robert C. Scott
2600 Washington Ave.
Newport News
VA
23607
(757) 380-1000

John Sarbanes
44 Calvert Street
Annapolis
MD
21401
(202) 225-4016

Mike Castle
300 South New Street
Dover
DE
19904
(302) 736-1666

Rush Holt
50 Washington Rd
West Windsor
NJ
08550
609-750-9365

Robert Andrews
506-A White Horse Pike
Haddon Heights
NJ
08035
856-546-5100

Donald Payne
50 Walnut Street
Newark
NJ
07102
(973) 645-3213

Hillary Clinton
780 Third Ave
New York
NY
10017
(212) 688-6262

Carolyn McCarthy
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City
NY
11530
(516) 739-3008

Tim Bishop
3680 Route 112
Coram
NY
11727
6316966500

Randy John Kuhl
22 Buell Street
Bath/elmira
NY
14810
6077769142

Christopher Dodd
30 Lewis St
Hartford
CT
06103
8602586940

John F. Tierney
17 Peabody Square
Peabody
MA
01960
9785311669

Edward Kennedy
2400 JFK Building
Boston
MA
02203
6175653170

Jack Reed
201 Hillside Road
Cranston
RI
02920
(401) 943-3100

Bernard Sanders (I)
1 Church St.
Burlington
VT
05401
802-862-0697

Judd Gregg
125 North Main Street
Concord
NH
03301
6032257115

Joe Sestak
600 N. Jackson Street
Media
PA
19063
(610) 892-8623

Joe Courtney
2 Courthouse Square
norwich
CT
06360
8608860139

CALL THESE PEOPLE!!! MAKE THEM FEEL YOUR PAIN> EVERY TIME YOU ARE FEELING DOWN AND OUT< OR PISSED OFF ABOUT YOUR SITUATION> CALL THEM! MAKE THEM FEEL YOUR PAIN!

2. Attorney General Cuomo (NY) offered a settlement to Student lenders requiring them to end their collusionary practices, among other things. A good article describing this can be found here .

3. I sent an email to James Kvaal, Policy Director for The Edwards campaign. He is a good guy, and well versed in education issues. This should be a perfect issue for the Edward’s campaign, and I made that clear in no uncertain terms. He sent me this back:

"....Alan,

I'm sorry you are disappointed. You are right that all the problems in

the student loan industry are a natural issue for Sen. Edwards and one

he has spoken about in the past. Please be patient and I hope you will

be happy with what he has to say in the coming months.

james"

I hope this means something.

4. Our radio talk at Cornell University can be listened to here. Special Thanks to Heather Dunbar, and Paul Goldschmidt (audio producers) for their extreme efforts in making this happen.

5. Please continue to donate to the PAC as you are able. We are roughly even in donations versus expenditures, but still have a couple of bills to pay, and a couple of thousands of miles in gas to go. $5-10 in donations from each member would cover everything through Washington D.C.

6. Lots of media going on, but I will have more to say about that as the pieces are published.

That’s it for now!

KEEP FIGHTING!!!

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

March 25th: Nyack, NY

The Bus Tour is in Nyack, NY after hitting Connecticut last week. Good meetings, quite a bit of progress. I will talk about that later. Actually, there is quite a bit going on right now, but there is someting much more pressing to announce:

So we were snubbed out of the Department of Education's "Commission on Higher Education Policy" summit this Thursday, along with almost every other student group (with one notable exception). Cool. Fine. Whatever. To be expected.

Below is the list of people who were invited by the Secretary to attend.

Each of you: PLEASE browse this list, and find one or more who is in your local area. Call them a million times, if that's what it takes to get ahold of them, and MAKE THEM FEEL YOUR PAIN. Stick to our agenda if it makes you feel better, but at all costs, talk to at least one of them. And DO NOT GIVE UP until you are convinced that they feel you. Don't be intimidated by their title. It does not matter. Don't be shy. Life is too short to be the victim of politeness and social constructs. I'm picking the Gates foundation person, because that is where I'm from. If there's no one on the list in your local area, then pick one without an address at random!


Please do this, if you do nothing else this month for this cause. PLEASE DO THIS. MAKE THEM FEEL YOUR PAIN. Plus, It will make you feel a bit better, by the way.

Keep us posted too-

BTW>

The talk at Cornell has been posted at: http://http.dvlabs.com/radio4all/ug/ug350-hour2mix.mp3


_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

March 23rd: Wethersfield, CT

The bus tour is currently in Wethersfield, CT. We are meeting tomorrow with staff of Sen. Chris Dodd, and also a new Congressman Joe Courtney. Joe has never taken money from the Sallie Mae PAC.

We have, to date, logged almost 14,000 miles on the tour, and have visited with staff of about two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate Education committees.

Quick facts:

1. NY Attorney general Andrew Cuomo recently revealed findings about an investigation of student loan companies in NY. He found that they were giving kickbacks to Universities in return for business. This is only the tip of the iceberg of bad practices on the part of the student loan industry. We were interviewed by Newsday about the matter, and also gave two talks about this in Chapel Hill and Cornell University. Tip of the Iceberg, folks.

2. There is a class action lawsuit brewing for people in the direct program. If this is you, you may want to check it out.

3. We have 4 hard media pieces working currently (that I know of). 3 in Major media outlets, and 1 in...well, you'll see soon! Please identify the right reporter in your area to cover this topic. Use your powers of persuasion to get them to do a piece. I can send them any number of local "victims" with extremely compelling stories to back up what we are saying. This is not hard, folks...

4. Don't forget: The House Education Committee needs to hear your input. I gave their email a couple of updates ago, but "snail mail" may be the best way to go. the address to send letters to is:

Committee on Education and Labor
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
t: 202-225-3725

Call them as well. Make them FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!

5. The "bus" is hanging in there. We had a battery breakdown, and also a gas tank leak become problems in the past week, but are dealing with them. The generator is almost not usable at this point, due to exhaust issues which will require a welding machine to fix. The engine and transmission remain strong, however. This is all that really matters (knock on wood).

6. Keep sending donations as you can afford to. We're slipping a bit back into the red. Also, I would like to have a small reserve built up for when we get to Washington D.C. Thanks.

7. Special thanks to Anthony in Providence for the great hospitality. He originally borrowed $3,000 and is being pursued for $52,000. Absolutely insane.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

March 19th: Providence, RI

So the bus tour is now in Providence Rhode Island. We have now logged about 14000 miles on the SLJ Bus, and have connected with about two-thirds of the Denate and House Education Committees.

We're going to SenatorJack Reed's office tomorrow, then it's on to the North, and Midwest, before we end up in Washington D.C.

I want to say thanks to all the folks who have stepped up and supported the tour along the way. Meeting you all, and hearing your stories makes us all the more dedicated to bringing justice to student loans. Membership has picked up appreciably. We are getting like 5-10 submissions per day now, and are getting calls out of the blue from media people throughout the country.

What we need right now is press. Despite previous publications and newscasts, we need to get our story out there. Unfortunately, this seems to be what the Congress responds to. The Student Loan Loan PR machine is extremely strong, and their PR stooges are very good at casting doubt in the national and local media. Think about local reporters in your area who need to be writing about this issue. Pick up the phone. Call them. Send me their contact info. We are batting nearly 1000 in stories as compared with suggested press contacts. We have a compelling story to tell, but it takes everyone to give a damn, and do some legwork on this. Are you feeling me?

One quick note: The House Education Committee needs to hear your input. I gave their email in the last update, but "snail mail" may be the best way to go. the address to send letters to is:

Committee on Education and Labor
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
t: 202-225-3725

Call them as well. Make them FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!

So that's it for now- I will have alot more for you all soon.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

March 14th: Concord, NH

The tour is in Concord, New Hampshire. We met with Kennedy's staff on Monday, and Sen. Sanders (VT) Tuesday. It's back to Boston tomorrow, and then back to New York. So the East Coast is almost finished, then its off to the North and Midwest before we finally get to DC.

Susan in California had an emotional face to face with Rep. Woolsey on Saturday. I can't tell you all how important this is...Elected officials get inundated by lobbyists all the time who are trying to sell solutions for nonexistent problems. If we are to be successful, we have to make sure they know there is a problem...and put a face to it.

There are a couple of interesting things perking along on the media side of things, but nothing firm to announce quite yet. We did appear on Coast to Coast AM over the weekend, but it was pretty short. Don't forget to convince a reporter in your local area to do a story on this problem. At the minimum, get me a name and contact info, but I would prefer if you could do some of the legwork- it's really not hard, just takes a small amount of perserverance.

Also, we'll be sending "open emails" to everyone on a state by state basis in the next couple of weeks. If you DON'T want your email address to be visible to others in your state, please reply to this email, give your state and email address, and we will take you off the list.

That's it for now...KEEP FIGHTING
!!!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

March 7th: Ithaca, NY

The Tour is currently in Bingampton, NY. We gave two talks at Cornell University on Wednesday to a total of 27 people. Thanks again to Heather Dunbar And Paul Goldschmidt for their efforts to make it happen. It was quite well received, and I was truly shocked at how little the students know about their loans.

For example, I asked three students at UNC Chapel Hill about their loans:

- The first student thought her loans were from FAFSA, and knew nothing beyond this.
- The second student knew who her loans were with (Sallie Mae), but wrongly guessed that they were a "public organization"
- The third student thought he had student loans, but wasn't sure.

This is beyond appalling. If the students don't know even this most fundamental type of infomation abot their loans, we can bet that they know even less about the terms of their loans.

Anyhow, we're off to Boston again, and will be coming back through NY, and then off to the midwest.

Cornell University, March 7th, 2007



Pray for the Bus. We had our second flat tire yesterday, and various other mechanical difficulties are beginning to appear!!!.

Oh...four quick things:

1. Great article yesterday in the Port Folio Weekly (Virginia). It can be found here: http://www.portfolioweekly.com/Pages/InfoPage.php/iID/2580

2. Has anyone ever been threatened with having their degree taken away? A reporter wants to talk with you if so.

3. As of March 4th, PAC expenditures were at $3,717.00, and donations are at $5,797. Expenses are a bit less than I had thought, which is good, but we still have yet to cut the check for the T-shirts and Hats, however, which will be roughly $1000. The expense report can be viewed here.

4. T-shirts are being mailed out this Monday. Thanks for your patience!!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

March 3: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

 

The Tour is now in Chapel Hill, NC. We presented on a panel of the Education Writers of America Conference yesterday, along with Luke Swarthout (PIRG), a private lender (Tamera Briones of EFP), and a private guarantor (Willis Hullings of TERI). There were about 30 writers in attendance, and we are scheduling follow-ups in New Jersey, and Ohio. The moderator was Stephen Burd, formerly of the Chronicle of Higher Education, and currently with the New America Foundation. Unfortunately, we had a camera malfunction, so there are no pictures...

These are heavy hitters, and so I considered it a good sign that we were invited to present. I think you would have been proud. Sallie Mae, by the way, declined the invitation to present, which is too bad. They keep ducking the opportunity to answer the very serious arguments being made about them and the industry.

While the topic was private loans, I did a long segue that covered federal loans as well. The presentation can be viewed here .

Also...we ended up with $670 on the $1000 goal for the matching fundraiser. This helps alot. Thanks for your support.

So now it's back up the coast. We are speaking at Cornell University on Wednesday, and also doing a radio show the same day. This is being organized by Heather Dunbar. Thanks to Heather for her herculian effort and energy on this!

Finally...the PAC agenda has been changed to include suspension of Social Security and Disability garnishment.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 27: Boston, Massachussetts

Since I last wrote, we have visited Virginia, and high tailed it up to UMASS Boston. UMASS, at the last minute, informed me that we could not set up a table on their campus, despite detailed planning 2 1/2 weeks ahead of time. I wasn't too impressed with this response. This is to be expected from the universities. Free speech is great, as long as it doesn't put the college's funding in a bad light!

Not to worry, we will be posting and handing out as many flyers on campus regardless.

Anyhow, Virginia went well, and we are off to Chapel Hill for the Educational writer's conference on Saturday.


Newport News, VA



One quick thought: Could we all make a committment to make one local reporter do a story on this issue? You'd be surprised how easy it is, and it really has a huge impact, cumulatively.



I'll have more to say soon.

Oh ya...(shameless plug)... 2 more days Remaining for the matching fundraising thing

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 24: Oxford, NC

The Tour is now in Oxford, North Carolina. We hit Senator Burr, and Rep. Foxx in Winston Salem, NC today, and are off to Newport News tomorrow. We will be back in Chapel Hill on March 3rd for a conference, and will hopefully be meeting with staff for John Edward's campaign at that time.

This is important, and I forgot to mention in the last update:

The Student Borrower Bill of Rights has been reintroduced into the Senate. It is now S.511, and can been seen here
I think you will all agree that it has nearly everything that we are seeking, including:

An income contingent repayment plan without the tax penalty
Refinancing
Bankruptcy protection (still checking the details on this)

One thing it doesn't have is a viable "make good" option for defaulted borrowers who want to repay a reasonable amount in the short term (i.e. the amount that the government paid for the default claim), and move on with their lives, which is our #1 PAC agenda item.

Anyhow, give it a look, and let me know what you think. I am very encouraged that it was reintroduced, since it was our efforts that led their office to do the original act in the first place, so we should all be slightly proud about that.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 22: Knoxville, Tennessee

Greetings from Knoxville, Tennessee! We went through Georgia, meeting with staff for Senator Isakson, and Rep. Price the last couple of days. Today we hit both representatives (Wilson, Inglis) from South Carolina, and made it into Tennessee (Senator Alexander). We're getting into the "whilrwind" part of the tour.

 

 

Knoxville, Tennessee



Two things:


1. Keep spreading the word, and doing what you can-individually-to make this right! The flyers are working- Alberto handed out 100 in Florida, and we received a couple of submissions from that already. Also, remember to keep bugging the House and Senate Committee members. Do not be put off by the junior staffers. Do whatever it takes to make them feel your pain!

2. A StudentLoanJustice Supporter has issued a "fundraising challenge"! For the next 7 days, all donations between 10-$100 to the PAC will be matched...up to a maximum of $1000. As always, your support is greatly appreciated, and will be used wisely. To date, we have received $4,457, and are nearly breaking even. I will have an expense report at the end of the week.

Keep Fighting!


February 18th: Tifton, GA

The Bus Tour is currently in Tifton, Georgia enroute to Atlanta. Since I last wrote, we've been to Amarillo, TX, Lafayette, LA, New Orleans, and Orlando. I was awaken by a violent shaking and an indescribable torrent of rain that disappeared as quickly as it came early tuesday morning in New Orleans. Turns out that a tornado wiped out 4 houses two blocks from us. So that was interesting, and probably a bit lucky.




Lafayette, Louisiana

Anyhow...Progress:

1. The Jim Bohannon show went well. Jim started as a skeptical host, asking all the tough questions, but was making our arguments for us by the end. In particular, he couldn't believe that it is illegal to refinance consolidated student loans. The calls (which included Holli and Warren, SLJ members) seemed to really drive the points home. So that was good.

We also did interviews with the NY Times and the Arizona Republic recently and were contacted yesterday by Time Magazine, and a couple of other papers that escape me at the moment.. Hopefully something will get published soon. Please keep calling the press, and getting them to do stories. that really is where the rubber meets the road.

2. We continue to take video submissions from members. We have 7 at this point, but can certainly use more. Here is the itinerary for the next two weeks. If you live near the bus route and want to have your video submission taped for future use, let us know.


February 19th: Atlanta, GA (Sen. Isakson)
February 20th: Marietta, GA (Rep Tom Price)
February 21st: West Columbia, SC (Rep Bob Inglis)
February 22nd: Memphis, TN (Sen. Lamar Alexander)
February 23nd: Clemmons, NC (Rep. Virginia Foxx)
February 24th: Winston Salem, NC (Sen. Richard Burr)
February 25th: Newport News, VA (Rep. Robert Scott)
February 26th: Annapolis, MD (Rep Sarbanes)
February 26th: Annapolis, MD (Sen. Mikulski)
February 27th: Dover, DL (Rep Castle)
February 28th: Boston MA (UMASS Boston)
March 2-3: Chapel Hill, NC (Education Writers Association)

ALSO: IF YOU HAVE YOUR OWN VIDEO EQUIPMENT, MAKE YOUR OWN SUBMISSION POST IT ON YOUTUBE (OR SIMILAR), AND EMAIL US THE LINK. PRIVATE LOAN STORIES ARE MOST NEEDED PRESENTLY, BECAUSE WE ARE PRESENTING AT AN EDUCATION WRITERS PANEL IN CHAPEL HILL MARCH 3rd, AND WOULD LOVE TO HAVE SOME TO SHOW.

3. We have T-shirts and Hats available now. Here is a photo of the T-shirts:


To order, just donate $20 to the PAC for each item, and send me an email letting me know what you want, and where to send it. Please be patient. I will be amassing orders and sending in bulk once per week.

4. Here is the list of legislators we have visited so far with contact info. Now is the time to nail them with calls if you are in their state>


Name Address City State Zip Phone


David Wu 620 SW Main Portland OR 97205 5033262901
George Miller 3220 Blume Drive Richmond CA 94806 510-262-6500
Lynn Woolsey 1101 College Avenue Santa Rosa CA 95404 707-542-7182
Susan A. Davis 4305 University Avenue San Diego CA 92105 619-280-5353
Linda T. Sanchez 17906 Crusader Ave Cerritos CA 90703 562-860-5050
Howard Mckeon 26650 The Old Road Santa Clarita CA 91381 661-254-2111
Nancy Pelosi* 450 Golden Gate Ave San Francisco CA 94102 415-556-4862
Raul Grijalva 810 E. 22nd St. Tucson AZ 85713 (520)622-6788
Ruben Hinjosa 2864 West Trenton Road Edinburg TX 78539 (956) 682-5545
Jeff Bingaman 505 South Main las cruces NM 88001 5055236561
Kenny Marchant 9901 East Valley Ranch Parkway Irving TX 75063 972-556-0162
Charles Boustany 800 Lafayette Street Lafayette LA 70501 (337) 235-6322
Ric Keller 605 East Robinson Street Orlando FL 32801 4078721962
Tom Price 3730 Roswell Road Marietta GA 30062 770-565-4990

5. Financially, we are doing OK. We're a bit in the red, on account of 2000 more miles logged than predicted at this point (Texas is BIG), currently, but I have faith that all will work out. I'll be crunching the numbers between now and next report.

6. Don't forget about the brochure . We are about to roll a new version, but the current one is fine for now.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

February 9th: Fort Worth, Texas

Hey Everyone,

Two of our members, Cheryl Rohloff and Lynne Ostergen, are being featured today in an investigative TV news program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a hard hitting piece that cuts right to the heart of this issue. The link is:

http://www.todaystmj4.com/features/iteam/5688091.html

It takes courage to get up and tell your story in a public fashion like this, but it is SO important and helpful to the cause. So thanks to Cheryl and Lynne from all of us.

I truly believe that we could do this in every state of the Union. There is no shortage of compelling stories out there, and the folks in the media are more than willing to do stories on it. I hope all of you will consider making an effort to contact your local media, or get me their contact info. I'm more than happy to get the ball rolling, if you are willing to get up and tell your story. And for what it's worth: at the end of the day, it feels good to get it off your chest!

Also, we are doing a nationally syndicated radio show tonight at 11 pm eastern time. Its called the Jim Bohanon Show. It would be great if some of you want to call in. You can find the show in your local area at:

http://www.jimbotalk.net/


There's been alot of political stuff happening. President Bush chopped Student Loan subsidies even further than Kennedy in his budget. Both House and Senate have introduced student loan bills. Refinancing is there, which is good, but as far as repayment of defaulted (or otherwise extremely high) debt: the Senate bill promises a cap on repayment of 15% of borrowers income, and loan forgiveness after 15 years. It is not clear, but I am assuming that defaulted borrowers would be able to "rehabilitate" their loans into this program. I do not like this plan, because:

1. This will entail living with an ever increasing balance over the 15 year term in most cases, (hindering borrowers credit), and ensures a MASSIVE tax penalty at the end of the term-particularly for those of us who's loans have already "gone nuclear" in the first place!

2. This plan ensures that if we should experience financial fortune, it will be sucked into the interest on this debt.

3. 15 years is a long time, and who knows how it will change over time depending on the whims of Congress?

Anyhow, let me know your thoughts. A good analysis of both bills is at:

Analysis of H.R. 5, the College Student Relief Act of 2007

Analysis of S. 359, the Student Debt Relief Act of 2007



The Bus tour is in Ft. Worth, Texas. This is a BIG state! We have shot 3 videos in the past 4 days, and have two more scheduled before we leave the state for Louisiana tomorrow to meet with Charles Boustany (or his staff) on Monday.

We did an interview with the New York Times yesterday regarding private loans and culinary school. (If this is you, you may be getting called by them soon).

That's it for now. As always, please help spread the word about this in whatever way you see fit, and remember that this is a grassroots deal, and we are the roots.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 5th: Edinburg, Texas

Hey Everyone,

We have now made it through Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and are in Edinburg, Texas, to meet with Ruben Hinjosa's staff tomorrow. He is probably the most important member of the House committee, since he chairs the higher education subcommittee.

Arizona was very successful. Gave a talk to the Greater Tucson Democrats, which was only supposed to go 15 minutes, but stretched out to over an hour. There were about 40 people there, and led to a number of follow up meetings with members of the state legislature. We also did a "drive by" at Senator McCains office. Also, we were invited to do an OPED for the Arizona Republic, and are now connected to the University of Arizona Young Democrats. I have met with a bunch of the members along the way, and appreciate all the energy out there! Would be great to speak with more republican groups, however. This issue really does cut both ways...

We also met with Senator Bingaman's staff in New Mexico.

We've gotten OPEDs published in a couple of local papers in Oregon, and Colorado, and did an hour radio show on WDIG (Ohio). Also, we've been inundated with requests from all over the country to do interviews with various editorial boards, which I will accomodate as best as possible.

At the urging of many of our members, we have procured a video camera to document peoples stories along the way. Hopefully we can deliver a good video to Congress when I get to D.C. If you want to do an interview, let me know, and we'll try to make that happen.

Regarding the PAC: We have received a total of $3,757 in donations to date. I have not done the calculations yet, but I estimate that we have spent approximately $2,000 in fuel, some food, and some administrative costs (paper, bumper stickers, office supplies). We have a payment of $1200 coming due imminently to cover the costs of 200 T-shirts, and 100 hats. Since we are selling these items ($20 each) these should way more than pay for themselves over the course of the trip.

So...we're staying above water, but your support continues to be critical on this.

Beyond that, I have posted the brochures in two different formats: Word and Publisher. Please, Please, Please print 20 or so out, and place at strategic locations. Public bulletin boards, coffee shops, libraries, etc seem to work pretty well.

Beyond that, I hope everyone will think positive thoughts for the "Bus", and its mechanical health!!!!

That's it for now! Have a great week, everyone, and remember, this is a grassroots movement which means that each of us has a responsibility to make something happen...however seemingly insignificant!

Strength in Numbers!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

January 29: Santa Monica

Hey Everyone,

We are currently leaving Santa Monica enroute to Tucson by way of Phoenix. We have met with the staff of 5 members of the education committees thus far: Wu, Woolsey, Miller, McKeon, and Sanchez.

Also, we have been greeted at our stops by various members...this is important...helps keep the morale up!

The "bus" continues to function well, except for a slight mishap (flat tire) in Cherry Valley.

The meetings have gone well. Even McKeons' person was at least cordial. Some staff have suggested measures even more beneficial than what we are currently proposing, although we did meet some skepticism from Miller's staff with regards to the payoff plan for defaulters (agenda item #1 for the PAC). This is of particular concern, since Miller is Chairman of the house education subcommittee. It would behoove you all to contact the House Committee, and let them feel your pain!! Their phone number in Washington D.C. is:

202-225-3725


We will be giving a talk in Tucson to the Democratic Party (Northern Tucson chapter) on Monday at noon. I will be sending out a note specifically to Arizona folks to give the location.

All in all, I'd say it's shaping up pretty well, but REMEMBER> THIS ENDEAVOR WILL ONLY WORK IF YOU ALL, INDIVIDUALLY, PITCH IN FOR THE CAUSE. The brochures are a great start, maintaining a high amount of pressure on your congressmen is critical, and getting media attention is also of utmost importance.

Oh...I almost forgot. WE HAVE T-SHIRTS NOW!! This is a fundraising effort to support the PAC. We are selling them for $20 delivered, or $15 in person. You can pay via the PAC donation link on the webpage.

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January 24: Santa Rosa

Hello Everyone,

The bus tour is in Santa Rosa presently, with meetings planned for tomorrow with Congresswoman Lynne Woolsey. We will be meeting with George Miller (chairman), Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House), Buck McKeon (ranking minority member), and Linda Sanchez (Los Angeles) this week, before heading to Arizona next week. The "bus" is performing admirably, with only minor mechanical glitches so far! I will get some photos up on a daily blog in the coming week.

It is really critical that we get the word out. That is why there is a brochure posted at

www.studentloanjustice.org/brochure.htm

You can easily download this file, get brochures printed, and distribute as you see fit to. I recommend libraries, coffee shops, or other public places with a high throughput of people.

I know this is a slight bit of effort on your part, but I hope you all will see that the effort will be worth the hassle. It is definitely a wiser use of your time than trying to deal with collection companies to no avail!!

Other than that, we have been doing a ton of radio shows recently, and are getting OPEDs published in various small papers across the country. The folks in Wisconsin have recently completed taping for an investigative news piece to be aired in March.

The next few months will be critical, and so I hope you each will give that fact serious consideration. Obviously, keep us posted as to developments in your local areas, so that we can update the country as to your progress!

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January 20: Portland, Oregon

Hey Everyone. Yesterday was officially our first stop on the "Bus Tour" . I met with Rep. David Wu's (D-OR) staff at 2pm in downtown Portland. I gave him all of our Oregon Stories, and reiterated the urgent need to get a fair shake for the borrowers through passage our PAC's agenda.

Other than that, we have been doing alot of press stuff lately. Two days ago we did the Armstrong William Show in New York. Yesterday we did a radio show in Baltimore. A TV station in Wisconsin is doing an investigative piece on student loans, featuring our members, and we have also been approached by CSPAN, and a whole cadre of radio stations.

Oh. We also published an OPED in Denver, and were written up in a fairly controversial piece in Inside Higher Ed. Read it for yourself to see what the Industry thinks of us. I do feel somewhat compelled to say, here, that we no longer use profanity in emails to student loan executives. The email mentioned in this piece was sent almost two years ago, before this movement took off. The sentiment, of course, remains...

Anyhow, I couldn't be more excited to be hitting the road finally. As always: PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD about this! There is true strength in numbers.