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Don't call it 'student' debt
August 5th, 2014
11:29 AM ET

Don't call it 'student' debt

The first thing we need to do to get serious about student debt? Stop calling it "student debt."

"College debt" or "education debt" might work. Anything but student debt - because not just students but entire families are paying the cost of our broken system for funding higher education.

Case in point: The other day, one of the top stories on CNN.com was about two grieving parents who lost their child but are still stuck with her student loan bills.

This story represents so much about what is wrong with our system of financing higher education - not to mention our national priorities. Full story

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Filed under: CNN Opinion • economy • Student loans • Van Jones
May 21st, 2014
04:18 PM ET

Gingrich & Jones: Prison system is failing America

The numbers are arresting.

If Americans under correctional supervision counted as a city of their own, they would form the largest city in the United States after New York.

The number of people in prison, on parole or on probation, 6.9 million Americans, exceeds the populations of the second- and third-largest cities, Los Angeles and Chicago, combined. Or the size of the next four - Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Antonio - put together.

Thirty-eight U.S. states are home to fewer people than live under the corrections system in this country. There are about as many people behind bars as live in Chicago. That's one in every 108 Americans. One in 35 are under some form of correctional supervision.

Among African Americans, the numbers are even more horrifying. According to the NAACP, one in three black males born in the United States today is likely to spend time in prison at some point in his life. That's compared with one in six Hispanic males or one in 25 white males.

It would be hard to overstate the scale of this tragedy. For a nation that loves freedom and cherishes our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the situation should be intolerable. It is destroying lives and communities. FULL STORY.

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Filed under: CNN Opinion • Newt Gingrich • Prison system • Van Jones
Jones: Costly college loan? You're stuck with it
March 25th, 2014
09:19 PM ET

Jones: Costly college loan? You're stuck with it

(CNN) - If you took out a loan a few years ago to buy a flashy sports car, you could save buckets of money by refinancing at today's low rates.

But if you did the smart thing and took out federal student loans to pay for an education - sorry, you are out of luck! Federal student loans cannot be refinanced.

If that sounds insane to you, you will like the plan Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled in a speech recently at the Center for American Progress.

Last spring, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to lower student loan interest rates as of July 1, 2013. But they did little for people who already had borrowed at higher rates.

Say you took out a loan even a day earlier, on June 30. At that point, the congressionally mandated rate was 6.8%. You are locked into it. No matter what else Congress does to help new borrowers.

Unlike almost every other type of loan, federal student loans are set in stone even if rates change for the better. (There are private refinancing options but they have strict requirements and limited scope.) This might not constitute a crisis if college cost what it did in the 1970s. But with middle class wages flat for decades, the soaring cost of education has become a mammoth debt dilemma dragging down an entire generation.

Today, Americans hold an all-time record $1.3 trillion in student debt. It cannot be discharged by bankruptcy or even death. In some cases, Social Security benefits are being garnished to pay for a grandchild's debt if a grandparent co-signed. Parents are still paying off their own bills while contemplating putting their kids through college.

The solution is simple: Let Americans with federal student loans refinance to today's low rate. But the reason why Congress refuses to act may surprise you. FULL STORY

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Filed under: CNN Opinion • Education • Student loans • Van Jones
Jones: All who opposed Iraq War must oppose Syria strike
September 9th, 2013
10:59 AM ET

Jones: All who opposed Iraq War must oppose Syria strike

(CNN) - The situation in Syria would break the heart of anyone who has one. That is why progressives desperately want peace in Syria, an end to the chemical weapons attacks and aid for the millions of refugees. Additionally, most of us support President Barack Obama and want him to have a successful presidency.

But we must be consistent. We have a worldview that requires the right thing to be done - in the right way. That is why those of us who opposed President George W. Bush's war in Iraq have no choice but to oppose Obama's proposed attack on the Syrian regime.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Syria • Van Jones
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