Dr. Gary Sims’ story is one of dozens we have heard about student loan debt. Most of the stories come from public education teachers, social workers and other professionals who will never earn a physician’s salary.
While researching the topic of student loan debt, we have heard from people whose Social Security checks, disability checks and paychecks are being garnished. In response to stories like these and quantitative data, financial experts, economists and politicians are labeling student loan debt as a “crisis,” one that can no longer be ignored.
While it may seem overwhelming to think about change at the national level, there are actions that can be taken at the state and local level, and Allied Communities of Tulsa Inspiring Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) is pursuing them. Using tools of broad-based organizing, ACTION teaches members to cross lines of race, ethnicity, class and religion to challenge social injustices facing families and communities.
ACTION has developed a presentation that is being given in Tulsa congregations and universities. This presentation provides guidance on student loan debt. ACTION is also studying how debt collectors engage with consumers. Forty percent of Oklahomans have at least one debt in collections, which can range from student loan debt to credit card debt and medical debt.
In response to stories like hers, religious leaders of VOICE-OKC, including Rev. Lori Walke of Mayflower Congregational Church and Rev. Tim Luschen of Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, are now calling for payday lending reforms. According to The Oklahoman, Oklahomans pay $52 million in fees charged by payday lenders, paying an average annual interest rate of 391 percent.Read more