Dear Senator Webb:
Thank you for your automated response. : ) However, I am a prior-borrower who was ripped off by an unethical institution. Last week, your office sent me the same message I keep getting over and over again from other agencies: a copy of a 2004 statement from the Department of Education telling me there is nothing they can do about my loans even though they investigated the school (Union Institute), as did the accreditors, and were mandated to make changes in the program and in their financial aid distribution.
While the legislation you refer to below might be good news for some current students, it does nothing for people like me who have no consumer protection and no access to attorneys.
One reason the default rate is so high is that students who have had personal tragedies, have fallen victim to educational malpractice or made bad loans have no way of rectifying the problem; the government doesn't provide options at any level through any agency other than default, which is not really an option.
While your intentions are good, I'm still stuck, as are tens of thousands of other prior borrowers.
I can give you dozens of good reasons why my loan should be discharged and even more reasons why Union Institute should be sued for every penny they have. But that doesn't do me any good, since I'm not a lawyer, nor do I have help from the Department of Education or North Central (the accreditors).
Please consider this when continuing to work on student issues.
Thank you very much!
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
Bristow VA 20135
P. S. I voted for you.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 3:29 PM
Subject: Senator Jim Webb's response to your message
May 13, 2008
Mrs. Katherine Gotthardt
Bristow, Virginia 20136
Dear Mrs. Gotthardt:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding federal student loans. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.
I share your concerns that students and their families are facing difficulties repaying student loans. You will be pleased to know Congress has been active in addressing the cost of higher education and federal student loans. On September 27, 2007, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (P.L. 110-84), with my support, was signed into law. This law made significant changes to the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (DL) program, the Pell Grant program, and the federal need analysis formula. Over the next five years, funding for Federal Pell Grants will increase by $11.4 billion, increasing the maximum Pell Grant from $4,310 in 2007 to $5,400 by 2012.
Furthermore, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the Higher Education Authorization bill (S. 1642). This legislation is currently pending in a Conference Committee where members from both the House and Senate are working on the final language. Both this bill, and the College Cost Reduction and Access Act will increase need-based aid for students, simplify the financial aid process, and, among other things, provide loan forgiveness for students who work in public service.
You will be pleased to know that the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (H.R. 5715) passed the Senate, with my support, on April 30, 2008, and was signed into law on May 7, 2008. This bill will increase loan amounts for unsubsidized Stafford Loans, increase the length of deferment for repayment for parent borrowers of PLUS loans, update procedures for lender of last resort loans, and authorize the Secretary of Education to purchase loans previously made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program until July 2009, to ensure the availability of loan capital to meet the demand of student loans.
Lastly, I cosigned a bipartisan letter on March 12, 2008 to the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury and Education requesting that they ensure continued access to student loans and liquidity in the market.
As the 110th Congress continues to address the rising costs of higher education and other important issues facing the United States, your views are very helpful to me. Please be assured my staff and I will closely monitor this issue and any pending legislation, with your specific views in mind. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with us in the years ahead.
I would also invite you to visit my website at www.webb.senate.gov for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.
Thank you once again for contacting my office.
United States Senator
Please do not reply. This is not a working email address.
See www.studentloanjustice.org for more stories of students who have been hurt in this predatory system. Take action! Tell your story! It's time.