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Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008 09:00 pm

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

STUDENT LOANS SYMPTOM
OF SICK SYSTEM

The problem with student loans is they hurt the very people they are supposed to help [Amanda Robert, "Deep in debt," Aug. 21].

This is a class issue, because the children of the rich (or rich enough) don't need loans to go to college. They have no debt when they graduate. Whether they have the opportunity to do a job that pays well or not there are no consequences. The consequences are laid on the backs of those that are the most vulnerable — the poor.

Student loans first offer hope, however education is no guarantee of a well-paying job. Education is a "social good." Some will earn well and some will not. Some will be able to repay their loans and some will not (this is no different with students who don't need loans).

The very fact that a student needs to borrow so much is a symptom that the educational system is sick and doesn't work for the majority and helps to camouflage the real disparities between rich and poor.

I think there needs to be a national discussion with all points of view about the student loan system. Hard questions need to be asked and politicians need to be held accountable for policies that overlook the interests of the society on behalf of business and a fast buck.
Sam Conley

Springfield

SALLIE MAE SCREWED ME

I am typing this from a library because I am now homeless and living out of my SUV because of Sallie Mae loans and their predatory collection practices in order to force a default. The default hasn't happened yet, because they are still busy artificially inflating the principal by auto-forbearance — as in forbearing the loan without my permission or prior notice after they managed to get me laid off or fired from a job (more on that later).

They are inflating the loan with auto-forbearance so that when they do finally default me at their whim, the 125 percent payoff from their "federally guaranteed" arrangement with the government makes them more money than if I paid the loan over the long term. It is in their interest to keep me from being able to pay, and then collect the defaulted amount as the principal includes interest they would have made plus 25 percent. So on an inflated $100,000 loan, that is a $25,000 bonus for nearly killing me.

I believe I was profiled as an easy target because I was a single signer on the original loan agreement and have much less of a chance on actuary tables to be able to just come up with a lump sum and pay the loan off before it got this out of hand.

I signed a document that says 9 percent APR and $450 per month payment, and that includes their added interest to the base. But the loan account has been as high as 27 percent. Imagine going to school and realizing you are accruing more than $50 in interest each day. And the first payment bill that came in was over $1,200 plus a $150 fee to process my payment! Yes, you heard that right. It costs $150 for me to have the "honor" to pay them or they won't accept payment.

They have prevented me from getting jobs due to background checks, and also have caused me to lose jobs because of their calling 20 to 30 times a day to my bosses and co-workers. As it stands presently, I have to have an $80,000-per-year job in order to pay them what they want each month and hope to still bring home $45,000 or so to pay living expenses. This is because of one loan "account" that started at $32,000 and has ballooned to over $100,000 in about 2 years.

Jason Turner

Philadephia, PA

SALLIE MAE SCREWED YOU?
SHE SCREWED ME TOO

I am yet another victim of Sallie Mae. I took out $7,000 almost 30 years ago. My payments are now more than $300 per month. In the past three years alone, I have paid well over $11,000 and yet my current balance is still almost $18,000! I can't find an attorney who specializes in fighting student loan debt or I'd be on it in a heartbeat. Twenty years ago or so, I had my tax return taken, too.

There is no relief. Loans are traded, sold, whatever, without ever notifying the student. Mine was bought and sold at least four times. During a three-year gap in which I, too, could not find out which bank had my loan, the interest accumulated exponentially.

What most people don't realize is that Sallie Mae is not a government agency, but a private company. So my question is: how in the heck did they get so much power to ruin so many lives?!

I went online last night to check the current balance and was not able to sign in to my account! My user name and password suddenly didn't work. When I tried to locate the loan under either my Social Security number or the loan number, I kept getting a message that "there are no accounts with this information." This, after I've been checking into my payment history both with Sallie Mae and the previous lenders, all the way back 30 years, and after I joined Student Loan Justice and posted comments on several online articles. But even though my loan suddenly doesn't exist online anymore, the monthly payment still came out of my account automatically last night.

BJ Arnold

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

ONE MAN'S OPINION

Having read the article on an alleged police "crackdown" on prostitution [Fletcher Farrar, "Going to the Johns," Aug. 21], in Springfield, and how some of the "johns" are being sent to "school", to learn the dangers of prostitution, I noticed that your article missed one crucial point: the reason why so many men go to prostitutes.

Could it be that these "johns" are not getting what they need at home? Could
this be why they go to prostitutes? Could it be that the press does not want to cover this part of this issue, since this might mean questioning wives' commitment to their husbands? Could it be that some men go to prostitutes since their own wives have "abandoned" their marriages, in favor of earning wages, to pay bills with?

Could it be that this part of the issue will not receive any review, since it would show that wives are not more "saintly" than husbands?

As for how to get rid of the problem of prostitution, I say that this question
will be resolved just as fast as a cure is found for the common cold and for
flu season. Probably a cure for cancer will come sooner.

Norman Hinderliter
Springfield

HOPE FROM A CUP OF WATER

When I first planned to attend the Barack Obama/Joe Biden rally on Aug. 23, I wasn't sure what to expect. A communications student at Springfield College-Benedictine University, I went not only to hear what Obama and Biden had to say, but as part of a class assignment as well.

Despite the heat, or perhaps because of it, I learned so much that day. I learned that pure, unadulterated decency has not vanished from our society because that is exactly what I saw around me.

I saw people who had never met before that day share food, ice, and water with one another. When water was handed out, men passed it to women and children before taking any themselves. I felt that most people were genuinely concerned with the well-being of those around them. A tall man standing next to me even lifted me up into the air so that I could see Sen. Obama when he appeared in front of the crowd.

With not knowing what to expect on my trip to the Old State Capitol lawn,
it was definitely the little things I saw in my four-hour wait that bolstered my once-shakey faith in our society.
Nikkie Prosperini
Springfield

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