The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History, and How We Can Fight Back

By Alan Collinge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Rise of Sallie Mae and the
Fall of Consumer Protections

Student loans barely existed forty years ago. Today, however, U.S. citizens borrow close to ninety billion dollars a year in order to attend college, and this amount is growing at an alarming rate. An industry that was virtually nonexistent in decades past has grown to dominate the lives of millions of educated Americans. And at the same time as student debt grew, most standard consumer protections were removed from this type of debt, with the result that today, student loans have a stranglehold on millions of lower- and middle-class citizens.

After World War II, the United States took extraordinary measures to enable citizens to achieve the American dream. This included building a nation where people of all income levels could afford to attend college. Prior to the war, college educations were largely the province of the well-to-do, completely out of reach for low- and middle-income Americans, the vast majority of whom did not even finish high school. When President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill in 1944, this began to change.

As the nation beat its swords into plowshares, Roosevelt recognized that it was critical to give returning soldiers opportunities to rejoin the American culture; they had to be offered real chances for prosperity. Hard lessons had been learned from World War I, after which returning military personnel each got

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