Student Loan Investigation

The following was on the Huffington Post last week – they are doing an investigation about student loan abuses. Send them your horror story.

Huffington Post Investigative Fund–Stabile Partnership: We at the Investigative Fund are partnering with a team of graduate students at the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University. The topic of their investigation is the student lending and debt collection industry, and they are asking for your help:

We’re interested in hearing if you – or someone you know – have had problems dealing with your debt collector. We’re also interested in your dealings with the government’s mediator, known as the Department of Education’s Ombudsman office. Your stories and tips will help us investigate.

Screw Students? Yes, They Can!

In honor of Presidents’ Day, I thought I’d drop you and your buddies in Congress a line and tell you that if I had to give your job performance a grade, I’d give you a D-. The only reason you didn’t get a F is because you have a nice ass.

I didn’t vote for you because you had been a law professor. I didn’t think a former professor was capable of running a Burger King, let alone the country. Sadly, you have proven me right. If you read the comments of the post below this, you’ll get a sense of the frustration and disappointment with you and the rest of the Washington establishment. I do have a few questions for you and your buddies, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for answers.

How can you be such a hypocrite and tell people to go to school to better themselves, but make it harder for them by cutting Pell grants and trying to eliminate the in school interest subsidy for graduate students?

Can you please explain to me why usury is a C felony for ordinary Americans in New York, punishable for up to ten years in prison, but legal for banks? And why you allow usurious rates on student loans?

Why are student loans non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, but gambling and credit card debts are?

How is it possible that someone with so much education has no sympathy for those of us who tried to better our lives by getting advanced degrees?

Can you tell me why law schools are allowed to mislead students with false information, but others pushing products with false information get punished?

Come to think of it, maybe I gave you and your buddies a D- because my expectations were already so low, and not because you have a nice butt. Here’s a question for you and Congress to ask yourselves: Can they all really default?

Boycott Companies That Boycott The Unemployed

If you think it’s more difficult to get a job when you don’t have one, you’re not paranoid, you’re right. The EEOC has opened an investigation to determine whether employers that exclude jobless applicants are discriminating.

The concern is that because more blacks and Hispanics are unemployed than whites that, “The potential for disparate impact is there,” said William Spriggs, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor.
So far, The EEOC, has not addressed the issue. Many employers have placed ads specifically stating that the unemployed need not apply:

Helen Norton, a professor at the University of Colorado law school, said employers and staffing agencies have advertised jobs in fields from electronic engineers to restaurant and grocery managers with the explicit restriction that only currently employed candidates would be considered.

Sony Ericsson, the phone manufacturer, was one of the employers that did this. OK, Sony, how about this? All of the unemployed should boycott their products, and when we do get jobs, let’s continue the ban.

If anyone sees a company prohibiting jobless applicants from applying, send me the ad and I’ll put it up and we can boycott those companies.

Friends Want Your Legal Advice, Just Not Your Bill

Two readers wanted to know why I’ve never written about how difficult clients can be. I don’t write about clients because I’ve never had one. But I do have friends constantly asking me for legal advice, they just don’t want to pay me for it. As every law student/lawyer knows, by Thanksgiving break of your first year you’ll start getting requests for free legal advice.

You will be asked to draft wills, listen to landlord/tenant complaints, divorce issues,etc. After a few drinks with your friends, one will pull you aside and whisper something like, “So if I meet someone in the bar, and they say they’re 21, and then after I sleep with her, I find out she’s 16, it’s the bar’s fault for not checking, right?”

It really doesn’t matter if you know the answer or not, because no matter what you tell them, you’re screwed. If you give them advice that they don’t want to hear, they’ll say they saw the same sort of thing on Boston Legal and the character didn’t get arrested on TV. If you tell them you don’t know the answer, your friends will get angry. But you’re a LAWYER, they will sputter, how could you not know?

I’ve decided there is the only one right answer when giving free legal advice. From now on, I will just smile and say, “It depends.”

No Discharge For You! Bend Over For Access!

How’s this for legal reasoning? A judge refused a woman’s request for discharge of her student loans in part because she had been offered a job at a bank for $80,000. HOWEVER, because she had bad credit due to her loans, the bank withdrew the job offer. Unfortunately, the court didn’t find that it was “helpful to debtor’s case.”

Anyone who has a student loan had just better get used to bending over and really enjoying it, because the courts are not about to give anyone with a law degree a fresh start. Read it and weep:

[14] In this case, Debtor is a young, single woman with no dependents. She has an undergraduate degree and a law degree. She suffers from no physical or mental impairment to her ability to earn a living commensurate with her level of education. She has held several responsible positions as a paralegal for which she has been paid significant compensation. For example, in the position that she held at the time of trial, her annual salary was $51,500.00. According to her own testimony, a bank had offered her a position at an annual salary of $80,000.00.FN8

In short, Debtor is well educated, has acquired marketable skills in the legal field, enjoys good health and is not saddled with dependent care obligations that would prevent her from pursuing future employment. These attributes preclude her from proving that, for reasons beyond her control, she suffers from a total incapacity in the future to pay her student loan debts.
FN8.The fact that the bank withdrew the offer when Debtor revealed her personal financial situation is not helpful to Debtor’s case. Her financial situation is not a circumstance beyond her control.

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