‘We bought the car without interruption’


ALBANI. Is the country’s student debt crisis the result of a bad borrower problem or a bad credit system?

This is the very question that Albany director Mike Camoin’s latest project was directed at.

“Sally Mae No”, premieres virtually July 26 at 1:00 pm at the Whistle-blowers Summit and Film Festival. This is the first chapter in a six-part Camoin series “Scared to Debt,” which explores how US student loan debt rose from $ 10 billion in 1986 to $ 1.6 trillion.

The film festival, this year’s “Salute to the 50th Anniversary of Pentagon Publications and the Rise of Investigative Journalism,” is hosted by ACORN 8 and the Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. ACORN 8 is an organization that oversees former insiders of the Association of Civil Society Organizations for Reform Now and members of the national council who tried to reform ACORN after the discovery of multimillion dollar theft.

The film festival will run from July 23 to August 1.

For Camoin, his documentary is personal. Next year, his 17-year-old daughter will go to high school and start going to college. He also has a 15-year-old son who is entering 10th grade.

“I started talking to some of my friends about student loans and realized that it really affects so many people I know. As a parent, I will soon be faced with this very poor choice for college funding, ”he said. do not want to sign these loans; I know too much. “

A graduate of the University of St. Bonaventure and the University of Albany, a former social worker from Slingerlands founded Videos For Change Productions 25 years ago and has turned documentary into a full-fledged career. His 1998 production of Inside the Blue Line: Lidley’s Legacy, a series about the search for the Adirondax lumberjack to save wildlife, was broadcast on PBS and Canadian television.

SELLY MAE NOT | Official Trailer of Mike Camoin on the Vimeo

Camoin’s latest film draws the attention of student borrowers, financial experts and early whistleblowers who say they weren’t taken seriously when they warned of the systematic elimination of basic consumer protections for student loan borrowers that began back in 1998. a predatory lending system that exploits millions of young people and their families.

It features Rolling Stones columnist Matt Tibby, who sounded the alarm about the student loan industry back in 2013, when Sallie Mae Bank, once funded by the federal government, went completely private.

“Everyone in the education business goes through the adversity of young people who make catastrophic financial decisions in their teens,” Tybee says in the trailer.

The series targets bank, government and college executives. He links the under-regulated student loan system to skyrocketing tuition fees across the United States. Average tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year were $ 41,411 for private colleges, $ 11,171 for state residents for public colleges, and $ 26,809 for out-of-state students in public schools. according to the data from US News & World Report.

Kamoin also speaks with Catherine Fitts, a former housing official for President George W. Bush, who has spent many years in finance. She served on the board of directors of Sallie Mae from 1991 to 1993, before the company was privatized. She has been a frequent guest on conspiracy theories shows lately.

She describes a concerted effort by banks to remove rudimentary protections for student borrowers, which effectively led to the creation of a lending bubble.

“From an ethical and social point of view, you are turning a legitimate transaction or business into a fraud,” Fitts said.

It all comes together in the voice of Alan Collinge, founder of StudentLoanJustice.Org and author of Student Loan Fraud. Collinge is a scientist-turned-activist who said that Sally Mae unjustly left him at a disadvantage. Collinge warned of a 2006 60 Minutes lending “scheme” that he argued took students and their families to financial edge.

Camoin interviews borrowers who have made recurring payments for decades, but the interest rates and fees that begin to accumulate on the day they sign the paper have barely cut the principal because of the interest rates and fees they sign. According to Kamoin, many people in their 30s understand that they will not receive the principal amount of the loan in their entire life.

“Who warned them what they were getting themselves into? From time to time they receive very little or no financial advice, ”he said. “This is the most expensive decision in their life.”

Through online fundraisingKamoin has already raised about half of his $ 350,000 goal – funds that will help him complete the streak.

The film hardly mentions any single solution. Progressive supporters like Collinge are calling on the federal government to end all federal student loans and reinstate bankruptcy protection for student borrowers.

Kamoin said his approach is to “give a voice to those who have no voice,” and to encourage the search for impartial solutions. He warns that when students realize they have been “cheated” by private lenders, it will trigger a “debt rebellion.”

“Once they know they bought the car without interruption, they won’t want to repay those loans,” Kamoin said.

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