Students vs. Sallie Mae

Apparently several hundred students showed up at the Sallie Mae shareholder meeting in Newark, Delaware to protest the company’s polices and also its refusal to meet the student leaders. Sallie Mae is the largest private holder of student loan debt.

According to an article by Adam Taylor in The News Journal

About 200 people protested outside the annual shareholders’ meeting of the Sallie Mae headquarters in Christiana on Thursday, calling for reforms to the student loan company’s lending practices.

The protesters held a mock graduation called “Debt for Diplomas.” They carried signs, shouted slogans and demanded to meet with the shareholders, which didn’t happen.

The protestors were affiliated with the Student Labor Action Project, a students’ rights group, as well as several labor unions.

Sallie Mae has earned record profits in recent years, even as students struggle to make payments on their debt. The company has been an aggressive lobbyist against efforts to regulate the student loan industry.

Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord, who earned $3.34 million last year, refused to meet with protestors.

Here’s the video about the protest:

In a statement Lord said,

There is no question that we are in a difficult job market for Americans of all ages, particularly so for young people. We heard that loud and clear today from our younger shareholders. The average college graduate who borrows presently faces approximately $25,000 in student debt. This is a daunting challenge to say the least. But our customers will succeed. And we will continue to do all we can to help. Sallie Mae has 40 years of experience helping 40 different graduating classes and has seen several economic recessions. Bridging these difficult times is one of our key strengths. We are proud that we have transitioned millions of graduates with debt through to full repayment.

Well loud and clear is relative, since the protestors weren’t actually saying “we are in a difficult job market”; they were saying that Sallie Mae’s particular policies were screwing them over. One of the Student Labor Action Project’s major policy proposals, after all, is debt forgiveness, not “bridging these difficult times.”

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer