Rolling Jubilee hopes to change that with the launch of their new platform The Debt Collective, which will aid people besieged by student loans (among other debtors) to organize. The first challenge, Taylor said, is to "create a common economic identity" among student debtors—not an easy task.
"Debtors often don't identify their condition as permanent," Taylor said. Unlike medical debt, which is usually perceived as unavoidable, "people with student loans feel like they made a choice. It's their problem. They feel shame instead of outrage."
There's also the difficulty of a defining a common enemy; while workers share an employer, students with debt are "geographically diffuse" and their loans come from multiple sources. And in the case of Everest, which mostly serves nontraditional, low-income students, it's tough to organize students with children, jobs, and unpredictable, chaotic lives. Still, Rolling Jubilee has reached out to and strategized with many Everest students through Facebook groups like Everest Colleges Avengers, and many of them have become politicized.
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Nathan Hornes, 24, who graduated from Everest in April 2014 with nearly $60,000 in student loans, created Everest Colleges Avengers shortly after Corinthian announced it was closing and selling its campuses. Since graduation, he's was hired at Carl Jr's making minimum wage and feels that his Bachelor's from a for-profit school like Everest is more of a liability on his resume than an asset.
Hornes has spoken with more than 100 Everest students, trying to organize them around the idea of debt resistance. "The amount of debt students have definitely wakes them up," he said. "We are getting stuck with this massive amount of debt that nobody will be able to get out of."
The recent collapse of Corinthian may give the Debt Collective launch a certain amount of poetic gravitas, but the organization's ultimate aims go beyond any individual school. The long-term goals, group members say, are to challenge the very existence of student loans in the first place and advocate for free education.
"There's this strong sense in the United States of morality behind debt—that being a good person means paying what you owe," said Thomas Gokey, 35, who has $67,000 in student loans and came up with the idea of buying portfolios on the secondary market for the collective's first action back in 2012. "We hope to undermine this fake morality around debt." Since the debt was bought for pennies on the dollar, he says, people "really don't owe this debt at all. Someone is simply making a profit."
Meanwhile, he said, "most people think there's no other way to get an education, that massive student debt is normal. But there's nothing normal about it." Public education, Gokey said, should simply be free like it was decades ago.
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Critics say it would put too much strain on the federal budget to accomplish this, but Rolling Jubilee members claim it'd be remarkably easy to make public education free again. By their calculations, it'd only cost around $13 billion—a fraction of 1 percent of the federal budget. The group also challenges some experts who characterize higher education as a personal investment.
These critics "are not thinking of education as a collective good, only a wage enabler," said Luke Herrine, 26, a law student and a member of Strike Debt. "They're not taking into account a volatile job market or unequal educational opportunity."
Rolling Jubilee's past actions have been largely ignored by politicians, but the group isn't waiting around for Congress.
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"Even Elizabeth Warren is virtually powerless," said Gokey, referring to the Massachusetts Senator's failed student loan refinancing bill, which was just blocked for a second time in the Senate this week. "I'm more interested in the kind of power debtors can have if they organize and act directly."
—By Nona Willis Aronowitz, NBC News