I recently received the following email from a leader in the HESAA reform movement:
"Everyone should write to Sen's Cunningham, Ruiz and Gordon--see the most recent publication:
At least these three are still working on our issues. BUT, if more of us voice our concerns it will let them know they need to work harder--don't let them forget you/us--keep writing, calling, emailing--"
With these opening words I exhort you to contact your state senator and insist that they support reforms and join with Senator's Cunningham, Ruiz and Gordon to abolish NJCLASS loans. According to the above article dated June 19, 2017 the 13-member task force was formed to "study and evaluate the authority's implementation of the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) Loan Program and to determine whether its current structure as a bond issuing authority has impeded its ability to extend certain program features to borrowers, such as income-contingent loan repayment and loan rehabilitation programs that would ease the burden of student debt and assist borrowers in making timely and affordable loan repayments."
Ok, a few things. Has HESAA's present "structure" prevented it from providing borrowers with income-based repayment options or loan rehabilitation for NJCLASS loans? Of course not. We don't have to study that, just ask anyone already in HESAA Hell. They simply have chosen not to provide these options because they are all about that $$$$$$. They simply didn't have to make these changes because no one forced them. Now it's time to make these basic changes, we don't need to study HESAA we need to fix it.
Another thing to make clear is if we, the public, don't make it our responsibility to shout loudly on this issue - the new HESAA Task Force (sounds official right?) could make a few suggestions and then walk off into the sunset without any meaningful changes. Remember, the absolute minimum demands of this movement are what is mentioned in the above article, income based repayment and loan rehab for defaulted borrowers in the 9th circle of HESAA Hell. NO ONE should be louder than us in making this a minimum demand, however, we should also make known our longer term demands.
We and only we will bring to this fight the determination to once and for all abolish student loans.That's right - ALL student loans - especially HESAA's - should simply be abolished. No one should be profiting from lending a student money for college because college, like high school, should be free and a right to a free education afforded to every citizen. We do not have to compromise this basic progressive principal, instead we need to push it to the hilt. We have the power to make this an issue for the HESAA Task Force. Further, we should seek reparations for the damage HESAA has done to us, body, soul and bank account. We deserve compensation commensurate with how much they have stolen from us. Think that's going to come up to the Task Force without our input? I think not. Remember the Task Force will study HESAA overhaul, not actually do it. We need to make sure they do it and hear about our solutions.
Here is why there are reasons to be encouraged by the creation of the HESAA Task Force. In the above article, Senator Cunningham, Chairwoman of the State Higher Education Committee said, "If this task force finds it better to phase them out (NJCLASS Loans), then that's what we will move to do." HELL YES! You read that correctly. We need to make it our job to call for this from the rooftops! ABOLISH NJCLASS once and for all!
Brothers and sisters we need to make it abundantly clear that we see the abolition of NJCLASS loans for current and future borrowers, loan rehab and income-based repayment is the least they could do! The only solution to student loans is to reinstate the grants that were there for decades and fund them generously. We must be unafraid to call for full student loan forgiveness in our state that will set a precedent for every other state. Why should we allow our young people to be saddled with overbearing and life-reducing student loan debt? Because it helps the rich get richer? See if any of these demands are met with applause from the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, not bloody likely, even if millions of their own constituents would jump for joy!
I can hear the shrieks from our tormentors now! "How will people pay for school without us to loan them money?!?" With the absence of a real student loan education many borrowers and students might be persuaded that there is no way to pay for your education without borrowing from some thieving bank or treacherous bond-holder. But the answer to student loans has been there all along. Free tuition and permanent abolition of all student loans should be our end goal. Where will the money come from? Those very same fat cats draining our wallets with school loans that's who. We oppose any tax on the poor or middle classes, it must be the extremely wealthy who pay us back for this misery. So help us God they will pay, because only that would be a worthy and true justice.
We have been suffering in this Hell for too long to put our pitchforks down when we hear them talk about loan rehab, income based repayment or even getting rid of future loans. Anything short of full forgiveness and full free public college would be a huge disservice to the vast majority of people. In the future HESAA should be a benign benefactor, a Heaven if you will, a dispensary of state grants to those who enroll in a free public college. If countries poorer than ours can have this why can't we have this? In the coming years the momentum and power of the movement against student debt will create conditions favorable to far reaching changes. It begins here with us, we must advocate for what is really in our interests, not in the interests of a few at the top.
So get in touch with these senators, encourage them that the Task Force is welcome but it must get results and we must have these loans and predatory lenders off our backs! Tell these Democrats that you want the HESAA Task Force to transform HESAA from a Hell to a Heaven and completely abolish ALL NJCLASS loans. Talk to them early and often across all platforms.
Senator Sandra B. Cunningham (D) (Majority Whip):
District Office Address:
1738 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07305
Phone Number (201) 451-5100
Fax Number (201) 451-0867
Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D) (Assistant Majority Leader)
District Office Address:
166 Bloomfield Ave.
Newark, NJ 07104
Phone Number: (973) 484-1000
Senator Robert M. Gordon (D) (Majority Conference Leader)
District Office Address:
14-25 Plaza Rd.
P.O. Box 398
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
Phone Number: (201) 703-9779
Fax: (201) 703-8127
-Mark Hesaa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org