Imagine getting a letter in the mail one day, announcing that a portion of your student loans has been cancelled forever. If you don’t toss that letter in the junk mail pile, you might find out it’s true. That’s what happened in Michigan this year to a 32-year-old mother of four and a 24-year-old dental student. On the third anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, one offshoot of the Zuccotti Park encampment is making good on its mission to buy debt–only to cancel it. A group of activists called Rolling Jubilee is going after student loans, which at more than $1 trillion now account for 10 percent of all US debt, second only to mortgages.
Rolling Jubilee initially began by canceling nearly $15 million of personal debt from medical bills. This Wednesday, it moved on to $4 million of student loan debt incurred by more than 2,000 students of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system. (As reported by the Huffington Post this week, federal regulators are suing Corinthian for allegedly swindling students and engaging in illegal debt collection practices.)
Rolling Jubilee, according to The New Yorker, knows its approach isn’t a sustainable solution to the debt crisis among young people. What they want is for “debtors [to] organize themselves into a group powerful enough to seek policy changes on their own, as unions did in the early twentieth century, and as civil-rights activists did in the nineteen-sixties.”