Petition to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:
"Help student borrowers in Puerto Rico by automatically enrolling them in a forbearance program that allows borrowers to forgo payments on their loans, interest-free, for six months or until the island is no longer in a state of emergency."
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Students in Puerto Rico may face a lifetime of consequences because of Betsy DeVos.
Failing to make a payment on student loans can result in fines and fees and lifelong damage to credit scores. But how can we expect young people in Puerto Rico to find a way to make their monthly payment when much of the island is without food, running water, electricity and other basic necessities?1
DeVos has it within her power to give these students a pass on paying their bills until the crisis has passed.2 But since she has shown zero interest in student welfare in the past, we will need to push her to make it happen. That is why we are joining with our friends at the American Federation of Teachers to demand that DeVos help Puerto Rico’s student borrowers.
So far, the administration has left Puerto Rico’s students to fend for themselves. The Department of Education told borrowers to contact their student loan servicers. But they didn’t post instructions in Spanish, and many cannot find the right number to call without internet access. Even if students can postpone making their loans, they’ll be stuck paying interest for the time missed.3
More than 300,000 people on the island have student loans – around 10 percent of all Puerto Ricans.4 Their lives and communities have been devastated, but Betsy DeVos still wants them to fight through student loan bureaucracy.
There is a better way: DeVos has the authority to automatically enroll borrowers who were victims of a national emergency in a forbearance program. That means no payments until after the disaster, no paying interest and falling deeper in debt and no hoops to jump through.5 We need to make it clear to DeVos that failing to help after a crisis is simply unacceptable.
The administration needs to allow people to skip payments for at least six months, or as long as the state of emergency in Puerto Rico lasts. It must also do so automatically, without requiring students to somehow get word and sign up, and announce the move and its implications in both Spanish and English. Any less is the exploitation of suffering people, plain and simple.
Trump and DeVos have done little to show they care about Puerto Rico and people with student loans. We need to speak up, force them to act and expose how willing they are to let people suffer to fit their own agenda.
Tell Betsy DeVos: Help Puerto Rico’s student borrowers. Click below to sign the petition:
- Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
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