CALPIRG Takes A Whack At Sallie Mae

Last Thursday Santa Monica College students had the chance to strike back and take out their frustrations on a punching bag featuring the Sallie Mae logo.

CALPIRG hosted the event to inform SMC students and let them take a swing back at Sallie Mae, one of the largest student loan providers in the nation. The loan company handles over 35 percent of all student loans in the U.S.

Sallie Mae and other financial institutions are currently trying to stop the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which would invest $87 billion in college programs. The act which passed in the House in September is currently pending approval in the Senate.

"People are being tricked on getting loans with higher interest," Cristina Tomas, a member of CALPIRG said. "Students aren't okay with being taken advantage of. We can't be apathetic about our future."

Tomas and Margaret Rowe, another member of CALPIRG, hosted the event.

"We want students to take their frustration out on Sallie Mae," said Rowe. "Even as little as this event might be, we want to inform the students"

About 50 percent of recent college graduates have student loans, with an average student loan debt of $10,000, according to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics. The average cost of college increases at twice the rate of inflation. The College Board estimates that public schools cost an average of $13,000 a year and private schools cost $28,000 annually.

"Students don't know about SAFRA," said Tomas. "It passed in September in the U.S. House and now we are waiting for the Senate to pass it."

CALPIRG made a list of grievances against Sallie Mae, one which stated that Sallie Mae has "received billions in profits through excessive federal subsidies over the past few decades, and continues to lobby against the use of those funds for student grant aid." Another complaint was that Sallie Mae executives are receiving excessive compensation.

Robles and many other students at first did not want to punch the bag, but after hearing about Sallie Mae and their intentions to stop the act from passing, students had no problem taking a swing at this loan institution. The enthusiasm of some students was too much for the bag, as it was continually knocked off the chair on which it was perched.

"Hitting the punching bag represents the frustration that us as students have toward these financial institutions," said SMC student Salvador Robles. "We are not just going to let this happen."


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