Listen
About KGNU

Reveal: Who’s getting rich off your student debt?

Posted: July 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm by , in Breaking News, Featured, Reveal

The student loan program was supposed to help open the door to higher education, but it’s become something else: a profit center for Wall Street and the government. Now the program is making things worse for some of the people it was designed to help. On this episode of Reveal, we explore how this happened and who’s winning and losing as a result.

Meet Jessie Suren, a 28-year-old college grad. She lives in Philadelphia, where she rents a cramped, tiny room in a neatly kept row house. When she graduated from La Salle University, along with a diploma, she took home about $70,000 in student debt. Six years later, she owes about $90,000. She’s made all her payments – so what happened?

Like a lot of recent grads, Suren took a string of low-paying jobs while she tried to find her professional footing after college. During those years, she paid the bare minimum on her student loans and kept accruing interest. At a rate of 8.5 percent, that means tens of thousands of dollars of interest.

Through Suren, we see how a federal program to help disadvantaged students pay for college became a moneymaking machine for Wall Street.

 

Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast.

Reveal airs Tuesdays at 4pm on KGNU.

Image: Anna Vignet for Reveal