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Student Loan Forgiveness for Volunteer Services

WHEREAS, U.S. student loan debt now surpasses credit card and auto­ loan debt, at an estimated $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and

WHEREAS, in 2007-08, 92 percent of students at for-profit colleges borrowed student loans, 27 percent of students at public colleges and 60 percent of students at private non-profit colleges; and

WHEREAS, two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2010 had student loan debt, with an average of $25,250 for those with debt, up five percent from the previous year. The five percent increase in average debt at the national level is similar to the average annual increase over the past few years; and

WHEREAS, in the current economic climate, recent college graduates who borrowed for their education face particular challenges in paying back their student loans. The unemployment rate for young college graduates rose from 8.7 percent in 2009 to 9.1 percent in 2010, the highest annual rate on record; and

WHEREAS, based on national surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, on average, graduates of for-profit four-year colleges are much more likely to borrow student loans and borrow significantly more than their counterparts at public and private nonprofit colleges; and

WHEREAS, data released by the U.S. Department of Education shows a sharp increase in the rate at which student loan borrowers are defaulting; and

WHEREAS, the official "two-year cohort default rates" show that 8.8 percent of student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2009 had defaulted by the end of 2010, up from 7 percent for those entering repayment in 2008; and

WHEREAS, across all colleges, about 320,000 borrowers who entered repayment in 2009 defaulted by the end of 2010-81,000 more than the 239,000 borrowers who entered repayment in 2008 and defaulted by the end of 2009; and

WHEREAS, research indicates that most student loan borrowers who default do so after the two-year window is over; and

WHEREAS, the consequences of default for students is severe and long­ lasting. The resulting debt can follow borrowers for the rest of their lives, ruining their credit, making it difficult to buy a car or a home or even rent an apartment, limiting their job prospects, and making it impossible to get federal grants or loans to return to school; and

WHEREAS, for-profit colleges overall have the highest two-year cohort default rates. For borrowers entering repayment in 2009, 15 percent of borrowers from for-profit colleges defaulted-more than twice the rate at public colleges percent) and more than three times the rate of non-profit colleges (4.6 percent); and

WHEREAS, volunteering is an opportunity to make a big difference in one's life and in the lives of those around them, and provides an opportunity to learn and apply skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community; and

WHEREAS, national volunteer programs such as AmeriCorps and its programs have a long history of encouraging and supporting civic engagement; and

WHEREAS, volunteering allows individuals to address critical needs in communities all across the country and provide opportunities, such as tutoring and mentoring disadvantaged youth, fighting illiteracy, improving health services, building affordable housing, teaching computer skills, cleaning parks and streams, managing or operating after-school programs, helping communities respond to disasters, and building organizational capacity; and

WHEREAS, volunteer programs are offering full and part-time members who complete their programs service awards to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate at state and federal levels for the government to allow for youth, college graduates, and adults to volunteer in local schools, community centers and social service agencies as a means of attaining student loan forgiveness.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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