With nearly 60 percent of college students today borrowing federal aid money for expenses like tuition and textbooks and the current rate of student debt reaching more than $1 trillion as of 2012, students are demanding solutions for the debt crisis.
President Barack Obama has made some efforts. He recently proposed an amendment to the regulations on loan eligibility under the Higher Education Act of 1964 that will cut student aid for for-profit universities if their students fail to pay back their loan debts. He has also announced that for-profit schools would need to help students meet new standards of "gainful employment" or face closure. In the new national budget he increased funding for grants and work-study, but the public message is clear: More needs to be done.
I Am Not a Loan launched by The Education Trust, is pressing for change with a new campaign called #AccessMeans.. It has asked students and graduates to post images to social media answering one simple question: "What does access to education mean to you?"
“Recent data show that every year, more than 100,000 students are shut out of college, mostly because of costs,” says Iris Maria Chavez, spokesperson for the campaign, whose hashtag is #AccessMeans. “#AccessMeans is a campaign geared towards raising awareness on why students need affordable access to higher education.”
As you will see from the creative images in this gallery, the student loan crisis is about more than just rapidly rising costs and numbers. Each student who posts on Instagram and other online outlets humanizes the debt crisis and gets his or her voice heard.
“We want to empower those voices and to bring their stories and experiences to the conversation,” Chavez explains. “We hope the tableau painted by every photo, comment, and tweet articulates a sobering picture of the realities of rising student debt and compels our leaders to develop commonsense solutions to stop the student debt crises.”
It’s time for schools, governments, and banks to take aggressive action. Chavez says, “We are not a loan; together we can raise our voices to ensure that today’s college affordability crisis is but a bad memory.”
This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart's parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.