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Shepherding the Student Lambs to the Wolves of Wall Street: The Human Rights Implications of the Privatization of the College Loan Program in the United States

Weir, Megan

This paper explores the direct and indirect human rights violations resulting from the decision to privatize the student loan program in the United States. Specifically, this paper addresses the direct violation on the right to an education resulting from student loan privatization as well as the indirect impact on the right to housing and health for those burdened with student debt. This research utilized a quantitative methodological approach using data sources from College Board, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Longitudinal Study of 1997. I found that the Clinton administration unequivocally changed the landscape of the student loan program, shifting the burden from the government to families. Moreover, the administration allowed for Wall Street investors and the federal government to profit off of the student loan program. My second finding was that the middle 50 percent of family incomes saw the greatest burden in borrowing rates with the introduction of privatization. My third finding suggests that, the “middle-class squeeze” – or the middle 50 percent of income earners– is actually more accurately described as the “lower 75 percent squeeze” – or all income brackets below the top 25 percent of income earners – regarding student loan financing. My findings suggest that the inequality described around the ability to finance higher education is worse than originally predicted.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Braun, Rainer
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 26, 2020