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Daphné Vanessa

Shamil Rodriguez

 

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About This Episode

DDanielle Douglas-Gabriel from the Washington Post joins The Student Loan Podcast to discuss the history and current state of the student loan industry. Danielle covers everything from the history of student loans in America, CFPB enforcement efforts, student loan scandals that have shaped current student loan policies, the Biden administration plans for student loans, and so much more. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers student debt for The Washington Post. Danielle joined the national economy desk in July 2012 from Capital Business, a Post publication where she served as the local retail, hospitality and banking reporter. Before Capital Business, Danielle was the managing editor of Real Estate Forum, a commercial real estate trade magazine. Her writing has appeared in EbonyJet.com, the New York Sun and the New York Amsterdam News. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
We hope you have your thinking caps on for this episode because Danielle drops knowledge bombs all episode long. We hope you take away as much as Danielle shares in this episode with us today.


THIS EPISODE COVERS:

  • How Student Loans have evolved from being capped for mainly science students in the 1950s to its current status today.
  • The value of an online education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • What creative solutions are being presented by Congress and the Biden administration to relieve the student debt burden.
  • How changes to the CFPB can lead to dramatic changes in enforcement of student loan protections.
  • And much more…

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Read Danielle’s Related Work Here:

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:00:00): But let's not act like financial literacy is going to solve the, the resource problem because it's a resource problem. Trust me, nobody wants to take on that debt if they don't have to, they have to, because they don't have the money.

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:00:13): Welcome to the student loan podcast. Here. You'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans. We're your hosts, Daphne Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:00:31): Welcome to another episode of the student loan podcast. We are excited for this guest that we have for you today. Daniel Douglas Gabriel from the Washington post, joined the show to discuss the history and current state of the student loan industry. We cover things like enforcement from the CFPB, some of the scandals that have impacted student loans. And what are some of the plans under the current Biden administration in tackling student loans? Moving forward. Can't wait for you to learn from this episode because Danielle drops knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb, all episode long. So without further ado, let's turn it over to Danielle. So Danielle tell everyone a little bit about yourself.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:01:13): So my name is Danielle Douglas Gabriel. I'm a reporter at the Washington post. I've been there for about 10 years. And I spent a few years as the banking reporter at the post, um, have far and became far more interested in consumer finance. Uh, student debt is one of the fastest growing forms of consumer debt and a really fascinating subject area. Also, I graduated undergrad with about $50,000 in student loans. So I was, had a lot of personal interest in the topic area

Shamil Rodriguez (00:01:44): We understand and what, uh, we have a lot of listeners that are in school, uh, and that are, uh, in high school getting prepared for college. So would you mind sharing what brought your interest to journalism in the first place?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:01:57): Sure. So I've always been interested in journalism, just being able to, uh, offer the perspective of a person of color, a person from a working class background of having a seat at the table and being able to tell the story, the people who look like me and other people who are generally marginalized and making sure that their voices are heard has always been of interest. Um, I, I have to say I was super nerdy about it. I went to journalism camp in high school. It is a thing and it was pretty awesome. I did it for two years in a row and really just kind of fell further in love with the craft. Um, and, uh, you know, had a really non-traditional path into journalism. I was working all sorts of jobs when I graduated because I had to pay off that debt. So I didn't come straight out into the newspaper world. I worked, Oh goodness. I was like a drink girl at private parties cause it's made money in New York.

Daphné Vanessa (00:02:56): It does. It makes great money.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:03:00): I did that. It was, I was a hostess as well as working a day job as a marketing assistant. I was writing for, you know, my local black newspaper in the community on the side and just kept the dream going, even though it wasn't, you know, at some point it was like, Oh man, this will never happen. But I was just like, I really love doing this and to keep doing it while I'm trying to pay the bills and, you know, through a string of, of, of lock-in and just tenacity. I guess I landed at the posts, uh, after going to grad school to get a journalism degree and met a fantastic editor who, you know, we, we talked about being scrappy and he appreciated my scrappiness and decided to offer me a job. And here I am,

Daphné Vanessa (00:03:48): That's an amazing story. And I think one that's so many people can relate to, right? Is that you got out there and you made it happen because that's what you wanted. We love that. So thank you for sharing that with our listeners. So I want to go into your expertise if you will allow us entertain us. Um, you know, so much about this world, you've been covering so much for 10 years and just in consumer finance for a number of years, I would love to hear your perspective on the student loan ecosystem, how we got to where we are today, what were the origins like? W what, what is this student loan Mammut that we have in America today?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:04:29): So it's such a fascinating subject matter. I'll try not to get too wonky, but we love walking up least the federal government side. So the federal government has been involved in student loans since, gosh, the late 1950s, when the national defense education act allowed schools to give out loans to students, particularly those pursuing the sciences. Now fast forward to 1965, when the Fred's create the first national loan program now to help middle and upper income families, finance undergraduate education, because the interest rates that the government was willing to offer, it was lower than what they could have gotten in the private markets at the time, the federal government guaranteed the loans that were originated by banks and over the next few decades, lending programs were created for parents for graduate students. Initially there were borrowing caps, but those went away over time and people were allowed to borrow up to the full cost of attendance for grad school, as well as parents being able to help their students in that way.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:05:27): So let's go to an early 1990s, all right. The feds begin directly lending to students in part because partnering with the banks became super expensive. Uh, when the meltdown in the credit markets hit in 2008, you know, a lot of these banks could no longer provide the needed capital to finance student loans. And the feds were growing tired of subsidizing private lenders. There were a host of scandals that happened during this time, um, that a lot of people who were in that era kind of remember, they keep coming up. We can talk about that later, but by 2010, the Obama administration came in and said, Hey, we can cut the bank side of this, right. Let's just do all direct federal lending. And he kind of put this tuck this provision into the ACA legislation that created, uh, Obamacare as people call it. But in, there was a provision that cut the banks out of the federal lending program.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:06:22): And, um, what was fascinating about this setup was that even though banks were cut out of the federal lending program, they, some of them, or kept on as student loan services, uh, Navient Nelnet, some of these companies, some of which were involved in some of these scandals, uh, but that's a whole nother story. So, you know, the federal government now controls more than 90% of student of the student loan market. There are only a few private lenders these days like Wells Fargo, citizens bank, and many of them are focused on refinancing like sofa and common bond and others. Uh, so it's, it's an interesting shift of how much the private actors are out of the space, uh, to the benefit of the federal government, but sometimes to the detriment of students. So student loan, servicers are fascinating, but you know, they are paid billions of dollars in order to service those loans, handling the money, they collect the payments, they apply the payments and such, you know, arguably a lot of them will say, they're not being paid enough to give the level of service that they really need to provide to students.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:07:25): The student loan system is exceedingly complicated. There are so many repayment options. There are so many ways where you can mess up, uh, and you need to have skilled people giving advice in this space. And sometimes because of the way that these student loan servicers are paid, they're not always, they're not, they don't always have the most. What's the, what's a good, nice political way of saying, um, they don't always have the, the most competent people all the time in, uh, the, in servicing these loans, as far as the front facing the fact that now there are a lot of people who would do a good job and are trying their best. But, you know, there are a lots of servicers who are not, uh, kind of doing the job that they're being paid for. And it's to the detriment of people who are still trying to pay off their loans.

Daphné Vanessa (00:08:11): And what are some of the criticisms that the department of education got as going from being a government agency to essentially acting as a bank? Were there challenges, criticisms, like what were some of the opposing arguments during that time?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:08:28): So the loan servicing piece became a big problem, uh, because loan servicers were, as I said, weren't always doing a great job of advising students about which plan plans were best for them. There were a lot of accusations of sloppy paperwork of sloppy, like, uh, handling of just payments. And as a result was people falling into default and becoming delinquent on their loans or oftentimes, and this has sparked a lot of lawsuits of servicers, not telling borrowers about income-based plans that would make it more affordable for them to repay off there, to pay off their loans and to avoid defaulting on their loans. Now, the reason why this would be advantageous to the servicer is that if you have to, uh, do put somebody in an income based repayment plan, it's a lot of paperwork. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of extra work that you are not getting paid extra money for.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:09:22): So if you're thinking about your bottom line, it would be advantageous to go with the cheapest, the dirtiest, the quickest way, which is often forbearance, which is not a long-term solution, right? So the other issue is, um, public service loan forgiveness here, again, services, some of them have been accused of not telling borrowers that they might qualify for this program program says after 10 years of serving the state federal government, some not non-profits, you can have the balance of your loans forgiven, right? If you're unqualified payment, hot mess of a program, lots of that could be a whole nother topic of, you know, a part of that is knowing that you need to, to apply for this program and move over to another servicer. Now, if I'm servicing a, who's going to lose that account when you had to service or B, it would be in my best interest to actually not tell you anything about the possibility of you qualify for this, which is, you know, the accusation of a few folks have made and then even service a B who's supposed to be handling the loans when you get there.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:10:29): Wasn't telling people that they weren't in the right for payment plans, they were missing payments here. People thought they were going to get forgiveness and bam, 10 years of your life gone and that making okay wages as a public defender, when you could have been making more money in private practice, but you did this for the forgiveness you find out, Oh wow, I am five, six, seven, eight payments off. Now, those are the big overarching problems of the system. A couple of other ones is that putting, making the federal government essentially bank, you know, by, if you just look at the assets of this, this institution, it is comparable to like a JP Morgan or something, right? There's not enough people who have the knowledge base at the education department to really work this and think about projections about, you know, the way that a bank would.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:11:24): Right? So getting more folks in the door who are able to figure out profits, losses, all the rest of that is important. Now, you know, there's a constant question about, Oh, is the government making money off of student loans? Well, undergrad loans, not really, no because they're expensive. And the government actually tends to lose money. Parent loans, graduate loans, different story. You will hear people say, Oh no, not really. The government's no origination fees. All of those extra fees that you have to pay on. Plus loans, graduate and parent plus is pretty, it's a nice little chunk of change now because in both of those programs, parents tend to default a much lower rates. Undergraduates, grad students tend to default at much lower rates than undergrads. So as a result, you have less risk here. You're making money off of these origination fees, all these lending fees that are much higher plus an interest rate that is higher than once you could get at most private places right now, right? Like parent plus loans. I think they're at what 6% interest you can get a mortgage at like 4%, if not less right now. I mean, it's, it's pretty stunning when you think about it. But federal loans come with protections that private loans don't necessarily have. So they're still more advantage advantageous to take out than a lot of your private loans. So those are the trade-offs that parents and graduate students often have to make

Daphné Vanessa (00:12:50): Insane and who is benefiting from this, right? It's like, so the government isn't completely benefiting except for graduate and parent plus, who are some of the players that have been interesting beneficiaries of this convoluted system from your research.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:13:09): There's a lot, a lot of second tier players, right? You have your student loan, servicers, you have, in some instances, uh, like leftover kind of vestiges of the old student loan program, where there are guarantee agencies that are still handling some of the old bank based loans. Now they're not making much money off of these things. So it's not like they're, you know, out there doing gangbusters, but there is money to be made there. You have people like some of these new private actors that are coming into the space that are offering private loans and at terms that people aren't paying much attention to because the federal government does so much of the lending. Oftentimes these guys slip under the radar. I think, you know, one interesting example that recently, uh, was brought up in the news is PayPal PayPal credit, which is an arm of the payment processor offers like six months of deferred interest for students using a line, the line of credit for educational expenses.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:14:09): Now, if the balance is not paid off within that time, 25% interest is retroactively charged from the date of origination and added to the balance of the debt. Now often because we haven't had a robust enforcement arm in the last four years, a lot of that stuff went under the radar of places like, uh, the CFPB consumer financial protection Bureau, which normally would have aggressively be looking at that kind of stuff. So it's been left up to advocates, many of which actually used to work for the CFPB, which is really odd, but it makes sense,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:14:44): Um, I know who you're thinking about. Cause you know, he's like, did you see this thing

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:14:52): Maybe they're not paying attention to it, but I am.

Daphné Vanessa (00:14:55): And he's so serious about it.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:14:57): He is, he is super excited about like ferreting out bad actors. And that's great. And I think it's going to be interesting to see if, if not him, but people who are like-minded are in the administration coming back into the CFPB, you know, the, the, the nominee for director row had shown bruh it's one of the most aggressive enforcement folks when he was at the Bureau in the Obama years. So much so that there were kind of a behind the scenes head budding with, uh, education department because the education department is not known for having strong enforcement. They're just not. And the CFPB kept playing that role oftentimes to the embarrassment of the department. And it will be interesting to see how that relationship changes or if it does in this administration, but certainly advocates in the, in the absence of that kind of enforcement wing advocates have been leading the charge, you know, telling Congress and members of Congress, Hey, you need to pay attention to this.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:15:56): Another one that was interesting was, um, Wells Fargo and I think a couple other private lenders, uh, it was Seth again, realize that, um, there they were charging or at least the rates, the interest rates that borrowers who attended historically black colleges were being charged or at least quoted, uh, were significantly higher than similarly situated, uh, borrowers attending like, uh, NYU, for instance. And that's, that's interesting, you know, that's, those are the kinds of things that you want your federal government to be paying attention to because that's disparate impact in terms of the terms and how it might affect that borrower. If you have the same credit profile as a white borrower, who's attending a more prestigious school. That shouldn't be how we determine who's credit worthy, you know, so it's, it's important to see that stuff happening. And I get the sense, we'll see more of that level of accountability in this administration.

Daphné Vanessa (00:16:58): That's really exciting to hear. I am really looking forward to a lot more clarity and probably hopefully participation, like you said, between the CFPB and the department of education, because there has been opportunity there for a more symbiotic relationship.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:17:15): This is good. Uh, really actually wanted to hear your thoughts on the skyrocketing cost of education. Right? I think it's something that oftentimes, uh, when I speak to people that come from a different generation just don't seem to put two and two together with how easy it was back in their day to pay and go to school versus what it costs to go to school today. And like, where's the accountability for, for that metric?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:17:40): I mean, it's interesting, there are so many reasons as to why college costs, what it does on the public side. The dwindling state appropriations

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:17:50): To, um, to public institutions is, is a part of the reason here. If you in higher ed is an interesting beast, right? So if you're looking at a state budget, well, there aren't very many places where you can cut money to, and they can find a way to offset the costs higher ed, you cut appropriations, increased tuition and keep playing that game back and forth until a lot of middle income families were like, Oh my God, I can't afford my state. Flagship. Someone must do something. And then you start seeing a lot of tuition freezes being imposed, but then never really fully addressed the actual cost of delivery. I mean, it costs money to have professors. It cost money to have administration. And some of it's questionable as to whether you need a vice president, vice president to the vice versa, another conversation. Um, and since I know some of those vice presidents, the vice presidents, I'll, I'll hush up, but, um, you know, that's a part of the cost.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:18:50): The other aspect is a lot of schools are kind of in this arms race to get the, not to get all students, to get students who are either who can pay fully out of pocket or pay most of it out of pocket. And as a result of that, they have this idea that these students want nice new dorms. They want nice facilities, they want fancy cafeterias, and we have to keep building that and that's going to have to come from somewhere. And that leads to increase in tuition. That leads to all of these sorts of things that are not necessarily for the benefit of the education, but for the experience. Right? And so that's a bit of a problem there. And then also, if you are, and I've heard school, a lot of college presidents tell me this, if you are welcoming a population that needs more remedial education, that needs more mental health services, that needs more, uh, saran wrap around services, you have to hire professionals who are going to cater to their needs, and that also costs more money.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:19:48): And so all of these things happening at the same time is a part of why it becomes expensive. Another thing that's very important to look at, and a lot of organizations started to look at this during the Obama years is just the very structure of college. Why are there programs that require more than 120 credits to graduate, right. If you're having to stay a fifth or six year, and you are someone who's low income or middle income, you're going to have to borrow for that. And that increases your debt load. And that's when, you know, with undergrad, there's a cap on how much the federal government will lend to you. I think it's around like 30,000 or so over those four years. And then you started looking at private loans. Well, private loans have higher interest rates oftentimes. And if they don't, you have to get a co-signer well, that increases the risk for your family. So schools need to be more conscientious about how they're structuring their programs, to be sure that students are getting the education that they need, certainly, but to also ensure that they're not spending more time in college than they can afford. And so

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:20:48): That's, it, it takes everybody who's involved in this to take a really hard look at themselves and realize that how we've been doing this no longer works because the population that you were serving in the seventies and the eighties is not the population attending your schools today. And to ensure that those, those students, aren't further kind of creating havoc for their wealth creation. You have to start thinking about how you're delivering this. And it's interesting, you know, a lot of times there was an argument about all is all these fat cap professors and their big salaries. Most schools are using adjuncts these days, adjunct professors get paid peanuts. I mean, imagine having a PhD or master's, and you're getting paid $1,500 a class, which is common. There are some who are paid much more than that, but a lot of the adjuncts I've spoken with have to like cobble together four or five classes in order to make $30,000 with it with a advanced degree, you know, that's so all of those things make up why we're having this weird kind of disjointed higher education system.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:21:55): It's interesting. So the folks who really believe that the market will dictate what we see, I'm curious to see how this pandemic is going to dictate the way schools really have to deliver the cost of delivering education. Cause that's not going to really change. So that's going to either force them to become more creative in that delivery. You're likely to see more online classes, but if you do so, you have to make sure those are quality classes. Not everybody is good at online education and they need to recognize that and do something okay. But that has to be a part of the equation too. So it really just takes people at all stages and all parts of this ecosystem, really taking a hard look at what works, what doesn't and who are you serving? Because it is changed. It is not 1970, 19, 80, even 1990, where you could work for all those four years of undergrad and not have to worry about taking out a loan.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:22:54): That's not the case for a lot of people. And people will say stuff like, well, community college Pell grants should be able to cover your tuition. Everything people gotta eat, they gotta live. Oftentimes those folks have kids and there are not enough holistic approaches to serving those students, but I'm hoping the Biden administration will address that. They've already discussed programs to think about child tax credits and increasing that also campus based childcare programs, increasing funding for that, you know, um, increasing, uh, allowing for more college students to take advantage of snap programs, making sure that's a permanent change and not just one this from this pandemic. I think again, people need to realize the population has changed. Their needs are different, and all of these solutions are not necessarily going to come from higher education. It has to be a holistic

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:23:46): Approach to serving these folks, making sure they graduate complete don't have to do so with a tremendous amount of debt.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:23:55): No, and I think you've summed it up well, because a lot of, uh, students that I've spoken with, uh, during COVID have questioned, why are they paying more? Right. Some schools were tempting to increase tuition expenses, even though students couldn't report to campus at that time, you know, during the spring of last year. Uh, so you know, what, what's the justification for doing that, right? And a lot of students started reassessing their, their value and I'm putting air quotes up for people that are listening, um, because they, what is it that's really being delivered. Right. And like you said, we've had an administrator, um, from schools on the pod before, and we've asked the same question about what the value is and do they see a difference? Now, a lot of it is the college experience. You know, you're getting that, that interactivity with the professor.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:24:41): Sometimes it's actually better one-on-one for the student depending on their personality type. Right. So there there's that side of, of the, of the logic, but I think you hit it on the nose that the schools aren't adapting and correct me if I'm wrong, it's just, the schools needs to adapt to the demographic that they're serving today. Um, and I, I'm a big believer, Daffy knows this, the VP of the VP of the BP doesn't need to, uh, uh, be in that place. Um, and, and then, and then they go from there. So, I mean, thank you. That was exactly what I was hoping to, uh, that you would elaborate on because there's a lot. Now, when you said with the Biden administration, I want to follow up there. Uh, what other, I guess, out of the CFPB teeth, uh, were, were cut back in the last administration, um, do you see that they are going to now revamped the CFPB and give them some of that, that power back? Or is there just like a different approach in that I guess for the Biden administration?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:25:34): I think you're going to see a lot of that restart that power coming back because of the people that they want to put in place, I get Rohit Chopra has probably a 25 page long list of what he wants to get done. Um, and I don't doubt that he will make it happen, uh, with the right people in place. I think the other big thing is, you know, the Devos under device, a enforcement wing of the department of education was essentially disbanded getting people into those positions and making sure that they are holding schools accountable will be another big part of it. It's it's so funny. You know, like this is not rocket science, there are laws already on the books, right? It's just enforcing. So the choice to not enforce them or the choice to enforce them changes depending on who's in office and at least the extent which they choose to enforce them.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:26:26): And some of them certainly could use some tweaking, um, you know, or there's a reason why for-profit colleges. There are so many laws to try to hold them accountable. This is not new. There was since like the eighties, if not longer than that, because there was like correspondence courses and such that were fraudulent back in like the fifties and sixties, when people realized they could get GI bill money, this has been cyclical. You've had bad actors in this space before. There are laws that come about as a result of whatever horrible scandal of the day. That's how we have like cohort default rate, right? When they realize that they're 25% of students at full-profit school that think this was an 86 or so were, were defaulting on their loans. You created that rule. So there there's a, a constant of, of one sector tends to have a lot of issues.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:27:21): And this is not to say that there aren't public institutions, non-profit private institutions that are not engaging in some questionable behavior in terms of how they treat their students. And they also need to be held accountable. But again, there are laws on the books for that. If you are failing your students, they are that have like massive amounts of debt. You can lose access to the federal student loan program. That is the lifeline for a lot of smaller schools, a lot of schools that don't have research money coming in and such, but you have to have people to enforce that. And if they're not enforcing it, then it it's, it's all for nothing. Right?

Daphné Vanessa (00:27:58): I mean, we really thank you for diving in. I think we've done a awesome job of covering what has the government done? What has the us government done to address this crisis? I would love to hear your thoughts on how the private sector, private individuals in particular may have taken action to resolve this huge crisis that maybe the previous administration didn't take on as actively as society would have wanted.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:28:31): I guess I, I try to think of the more altruistic examples first, right? So I think of Robert Smith comes to mind the billionaire financier who, uh, paid off, I think $34 million in student and parent loans held by Morehouse colleges, class of 2019. Now this was a tremendous act of generosity and in some ways brought national attention to the disproportionate impact of student debt, uh, on black college students. I mean, we saw a lot of that generosity continue over the summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, where you saw lots of philanthropists giving money to, um, to a lot of under-resourced schools, historically black colleges in particular, because there is a long, deep, rich history there of why those schools don't have the kind of money that similarly situated, uh, historically white institutions do. So folks were starting to recognize that and were giving money. And not only that, I mean, McKenzie, Scott, she gave money to historically black schools, Hispanic serving schools, other minority serving schools. And those are designations. The federal government uses to, if you have 50% of your population is,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:29:42): Um, over, you know, or Hispanic or those sorts of things. And those are great. It is, it is awesome to see philanthropy, um, rising to the occasion to support schools in the way that you would have liked to see States and federal governments do. But problems that were created by public policy should arguably be solved by public policy. Okay. So if we're talking, saying decades of discriminatory public housing, public policy in the housing and labor markets place, black and Brown people at a disadvantage to create wealth, making it necessary for them to borrow more money than white families have to, uh, even those who are similarly situated income wise, right? Then we have to think about ways to address that issue, that accounts for that legacy. Now it doesn't always have to be as, uh, race directed, even though there's some strong arguments for having fully race conscious policies that target in that respect, but policies like tuition free public college, doubling the Pell grant, strengthening accountability measures to hold predatory for a for-profit schools or predatory colleges, period, accountable, our public policies that could help people of all races, but especially black and Latin X students.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:31:03): Now people need to start paying attention to these things in a meaningful way. I think in, you know, Washington policy circles, the, the, the added complexity of race has become more of an understanding. If we're going to talk about college access and college completion, we have to address those issues, but it's still, it's still feels like it's just in those circles to get the average American, to really think about how inequitable the system has long been and how it still is. There's still work to be done there. I mean, when you talk to even members of Congress, when they start talking about their own experience of being able to pay their way through college, some of that just feels to me like you are a white man who did not have the legacy of racial discrimination, hindering your opportunities anywhere along the way. So, yeah, that's great that you could do that, but for a lot of people, including my ancestors who were probably the same age as you were going up through the system were not afforded those. If you can acknowledge that, that we can't have a serious conversation about how to reform the system

Daphné Vanessa (00:32:13): And what do we need to do to start having those conversations more authentically? What, where where's the gap between people understanding, um, race consciousness, and simply thinking that people are complaining where's, what's the gap? Like, what are people not getting?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:32:32): I mean, it's, I mean, we're talking about undoing like hundreds of years, big tins that make racism. So it's going to take time, you know, it's, it's not like, you know, we, we got here over the course of many generations and institutionalization of, of policies that created this problem through laws, through labor markets, through all of these things. So it's going to take some time, but at least starting to have this discussion and consistently have this discussion and not ignore race in, in these conversations is a part of, of doing the work. And it's hard. And I mean, I meet lots of well-meaning, um, white folks, white colleagues who will tell you yes, inclusion equity. These are all things that are very important to us, but then have these conversations about student debt and financial responsibility and financial literacy that are just like, are you sure you understand what's going on here because you're not taught?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:33:37): I mean, you could have, you could have explained to me 5,000 different ways of how student debt could affect my financial while my wealth creation. But at the end of the day, I didn't have the money. So what, what, what, what do I do at this point? You know, and it feels like there's so much, there's so many borrows I talked to and of all races, all income levels who have this tremendous shame, but I find this particularly true among black and Latin X borrowers who have debt, who just feel like they did something wrong, they did something bad. And, and if I, you know, I want to give them a hug through the phone and in this virtual space, um, because th there should, there shouldn't be shame. You know, it's not like he just went and bought a Ferrari, right? Like of all the things you could have taken out dead for your education.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:34:38): Uh, I just, I feel like there shouldn't be that level of shame, but people feel it because they're being told it, maybe if you had made more responsible choices once to a less expensive school and this and that and the other, but the reality is if your parents don't have the money, you may need to borrow. And not that borrowing is a bad thing, you can certainly borrow in a way as strategically so that you're not having to spend the rest of your adult life, paying it back. So in that respect, I guess, education around that would be useful, but let's not act like financial literacy is going to solve the resource problem, because it's a resource problem. Trust me, nobody wants to take on that debt if they don't have to, they have to, because they don't have the money. Yeah,

Shamil Rodriguez (00:35:22): Absolutely. Well said. Um, I think I've seen this firsthand in my own experience. That's why I like, my head was exploding over here with like how you were hitting it right on the nose. Because when going to school, the idea that someone would sit down with me and say, Hey, Chanel, what's your, this loan is going to look like X, Y, and Z. This is how much you end up paying when you graduate. Do you think that the degree you're pursuing is going to give you that much income to cover that in addition to your expenses? It's, it's frustrating. And I know a lot of that has changed where, when I went to school used to just go to, and you're on campus, they had a tense, or you'd have tent set up. They have all the banks were there and it was just like, Oh, here's a credit card.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:36:02): You know, you're just a full-time student. Sure. We'll give you this line of credit. Um, Oh, you, you know, you need to pay for next semester and you still have a gap. Okay. Well here, just sign here. Uh, you don't have to worry about paying for it until after you graduate from school. Like that was the extent of the conversation. So, um, and the way that we're taught, or at least I was taught in my experience. And then a lot of people that went to school in my situation that ended up in the same scenario was like, look, we just knew we had to go to school. Right? Like our parents were like, they were busy taking care of their own lives and working in the really hard jobs that they had to work to get us to this point, they were like, just go to school.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:36:35): Everything else will take care of itself. Unfortunately, that's not good enough. Right. In my opinion, it's still not good enough because if you don't have any guidance or anyone that's sitting there to help you along the way, then what decisions are you really making? Like you're saying it to be settled, paying off student loan debt for the rest of your life or asking for, for, for folks to co-sign with you and not necessarily understanding what that impact is going to be like for their credit and their ability to finance their future. So now you're setting back somebody else in your same situation or circles to do the same thing or move forward economically. Um, so I, I appreciate that you brought that up because it's, it definitely hits a spot there where I think that there's, that ignorance to that experience, uh, where people just see it as just a college or like a poor financial decision, but you have to bet on yourself. There has to be that, that perspective because your parents are your, you know, bending on your, your, your background, I've worked so hard and have sacrificed their own success so that you could have some sort of, you know, pushing that right direction. So thank you Danielle, for saying that, um, I'll accept the virtual hug there on that one.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:37:40): I mean, you know, it's, it's so funny what you just said resonated with me because I was remembering those fairs were like tents set up on like, you know, grad alley and showing healthy people that come sign up with us and do all this stuff. And yes, it would have been nice if the college was more transparent about what was happening there and why that particular bank was allowed to be there because they were a preferred lender as a whole nother conversation for another mom. My school knows who it is and the, but I mean, in that respect, that's important. But w what bothers me is that in all the conversation about personal responsibility and financial responsibility, I feel like we're letting society off the hook, because what used to be considered a public good when it was primarily white people taking advantage of it is now all of a sudden it's an individual good. It's no longer, well, it's not my kids, so you should have to pay for it. And I shouldn't have to put the bill for it. Whereas it was like, it is good to have an educated citizenry, right? It is good to have educated voters. It's good to have critical thinkers and all that other stuff. But as it got blacker and browner, along the way, all of a sudden it's like, Oh, we don't have the money to fund.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:38:52): Yeah. So I just, it bothers me in that respect, or, you know, there has to be some kind of balance. I'm not saying that you should take on copious amounts of debt in order to have a fancy degree from some fancy institution. But I want us to think about how as a society are we valuing post-secondary education, I'm not talking just about bachelor's and graduate degrees and talking about all of it from career training, to all of those things, how are we valuing that? What do we want our population to look like? What kind of, of, how will this make us a better country? It is good to have educated people. It is good to have people who are thinking critically and analytically about what, where their tax money is going. Why are they paying taxes? Why, you know, these services are set up and structured in this way. And a lot of that comes from a college education. It doesn't have to be the exact same format as a residential four year, uh, kind of program. There are other ways of getting there, but let's not like walk away from our responsibility to take, to invest in these, uh, in these forums. I just, I just find that troubleshooting,

Daphné Vanessa (00:40:01): You both hit it on the head. So there are a lot of policy suggestions for making this better, whatever this is improving the student loan crisis cluster bubble. Um, and I think it's gotta come from somewhere. So I remember Bernie Sanders campaign. He was very clear on who should be taxed, which entities should be taxed to fund the solutions that he proposed. I'm not quite clear on the Biden Harris administration and where the source of the funding will come from for the programs that were suggested.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:40:42): So there's been a little, uh, there was discussion on the campaign trail is super quiet right now. Yeah. Opting some of Senator Sanders ideas of having wall street pay for this. Right. I think this is when there were coalitions were being made and, uh, promises and campaign agendas that were part of some of the more popular candidates started to fold into what the Biden Harris administration would want to see happen. It's been quiet, but to be fair, it's been a month. Even further fear is that we're in the middle of the pandemic. Correct. You know, and that becomes kind of the question here. Like, you know, the, those of us who are really interested in higher ed policy want to see all these things happen quickly and things are happening faster than one would suspect given all of the competing interests or not even competing. It's just

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:41:34): The wealth of things that have to get done right now. So

Daphné Vanessa and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:41:38): and be undone let's, let's say let's be clear.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:41:45): So it's, it's, it'll be interesting to see if what was proposed on the campaign trail, as far as how we're going to pay for some of these things, whether it will actually see them come to fruition at this point. I, I'm not getting any indication either way, so I'd hate to raise the hopes, but I am curious to see how a lot of these things will be executed. I mean, keep in mind so much of the policy agenda requires congressional approval. There's such a slim majority, uh, that the Democrats now have that so much would have to be pushed through reconciliation because it's very difficult to peel off enough Republican votes to do these kinds of big, bold ideas, especially many of which have been stamped as a liberal thing. So it's really difficult to get bipartisan support. Some things might have a better chance than others.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:42:35): I don't, I mean, doubling the Pell grant, I think there's greater interest from both sides of the aisle in that than say student debt, forgiveness, um, even tuition free college is interesting. So it's been very much politicized as a liberal thing, but there are 39 tuition free community college programs in existence throughout this country in lots of very red States. One of the, the, the ones that's been upheld as a great model is in Tennessee. Okay. And the Obama administration had kind of attached itself to that Tennessee program when it was trying to promote a tuition free community college. It wasn't very successful because of all of the really kind of vitriolic response from Republicans in about some of this issue and the messaging of free, well, someone has to pay for it. Well, this was actually really successful for Tennessee. It could be for other places.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:43:31): And it was, it was the most successful programs. Think about adult learners as well as recent high school grads to make sure that they are also being able to access that, you know, Maryland really recently changed its criteria for its program tuition free community college program, because how can you leave out working adults who didn't go straight from high school? That's a huge population. There are, I mean, gosh, there are 36 million people who have some college credits and no degree. So to not think about them in your calculations of how to educate our country in one form or another is a missed opportunity there. And I think more people are starting to recognize that. And I, I do hope that we'll see some bipartisan support for some of those sorts of initiatives around career training at community colleges around doubling the Pell grant for the neediest students, because low-income students are most at risk right now because of this pandemic. Uh, and I, I want to believe that are getting to a point where they really do see that in a meaningful way.

Daphné Vanessa (00:44:34): We need bipartisan support to fix this problem. It's not a one-sided problem. It's a problem that affects people of all political affiliations. So I would, uh, hope that people can work together. This administration beef, be nice guys, be nice, play with your friends in the playground and get things working together. Because out here in the real world, you know, we have to work with people across the aisle every day. You know, we have to interact with people that may not have similar perspectives as, as we do, who may not even like us, just because of what we look like. So I think I would hope that this administration sets the tone for Congress, everybody to just play in the sandbox. Nicely

Shamil Rodriguez (00:45:32): Quick question. Um, wanted to ask you about, uh, your thoughts on some of these more. I call them creative ideas for financing college. Um, so I know Google had recently announced that they are eliminating the requirement to have a requirement for a college degree, uh, to apply for their jobs. Do you see that as something that is pushing people in the right direction in terms of your, you know, your comments on like valuing education in that way? Um, you know, some of the other ones that I would like to hear your feedback on is just the income based repayment, uh, incubation payments are income-based repayment of your student loans. If you get a job that pays a certain amount of money, right? So tying the, the funding that a school receives or, uh, the amount that a student has to pay back based on if they actually get a job in the field that they studied for at your, at your institution. I mean, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on some of those more, I guess, like forward thinking ideas. I don't want to call them liberal, cause I don't think they're liberal. I just think they're creative. Like, Hey, if they want to give liberals just the creative moniker then. Okay. But I think it's just, it's just, uh, uh, people are thinking outside of the box.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:46:39): I it's, it's funny, you know, what is, uh, oldest new again, when it comes to companies thinking about how education should be viewed and valued, it used to be in this country that if you wanted additional workforce training, your company would pay for it. There were tax credits and that there were tax benefits for them doing it. And a lot of companies are willing to foot the bill in order to train their workforce as they moved away from that, especially, um, in instances where licenses were required and people were being forced to go out and get further education in order to hold onto their job or to move up the ranks. I'm thinking social workers, I'm thinking teachers, others, um, and taking on a lot of that debt themselves rather than having the support from the system of which is making that requirement. That's a part of the problem.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:47:31): So it's great to see companies starting to realize that if they want certain education level, then they should perhaps start to pay for it. That's that's one, or at least, you know, have some sort of program in place that doesn't like value a bachelor, just because, just because does this, are you looking for a certain skill set that is provided from someone who has this particular education? Certainly, you know, being able to complete a bachelor's degree or line of education shows that you are committed, you're dedicated, you have some form of critical thinking if you're able to complete this, this line of study, but it's always, it's not always a good indication that you are well suited for this job. And so I think it's good to see employers being more, um, thoughtful in what they're looking for and ensuring that all the burden isn't placed on the employee to get a job that may not even require the skillset that you learned in, in college.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:48:29): So that's, that's good. And I'd like to see more of that. I think you are starting to see, like, what is it, Starbucks? And, um, a couple other places pay for the education to help their, their workforce out. And some of that will not, those benefits will not accrue to the company because most likely people, when they get that degree, they may leave, but still it's a great way to deal with turnover, right? So you will keep that employee as long as they're in college, because they want that reimbursement. So you can hold onto them for a while and you have someone who's dedicated and willing to, you know, to work while getting an education. So I would, it's good to see that and it would be great to see more of it. So I think it's interesting on the kind of, uh, what is it, income share agreement, which I kind of get the sense of that's what you're talking about.

Shamil Rodriguez and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:49:20): Yes. Yeah. I said I'm here, but I met ISA. Yep. Yep. You're right

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:49:24): About the terms. So all about the terms, like some of them are, are great ways for folks to finance their education, but it depends on how long, what percentage they want to take. And you know how that works. If you were to lose your job, if you were, you know, to have a period where you're not making as much as, as you were previously, and that is a fairly unregulated market, right? And until there's some guard rails put in place to ensure that borrowers don't come out on the losing end, uh, it can be a little dicey. I think it'll be interesting to see if this administration wants to embrace that. A lot of liberals do not like ISS, but everyone wants to see including some of the companies that offer or at least serve as brokers for ISS, want to see regulations put in place to show people that we're legit.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:50:15): We're not a fly by night kind of operation. So it'll be interesting to see if that takes off some of the other programs, um, proposals that actually have bipartisan support, but I get the sense of the education lobby. We'll shoot. That is the idea of skin in the game. So schools have to pay up if a certain percentage of their students, default schools don't like that. Um, but Republicans and like people like Elizabeth Warren, like this is a good way to keep you guys accountable and all of you so well, I'm curious to see how these conversations about the cost of delivery. So that's the institutional side and the price as the student side, but also those two things interact. How are we going to figure this out in this administration? Because I get the sense that education is a priority here. I mean from day one, that was pretty clear and the messaging is already continued on. You saw Dr. Jill Biden at a community college conference talking about we're going to get tuition free college done. We are about this. We're trying to rally the troops and all the rest of it. So obviously this is a priority again, pandemic, I don't know how much gets done in the middle of all this,

Daphné Vanessa (00:51:28): But having an educator in the white house certainly helps. Right?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:51:32): Oh yeah, definitely. She's still teaching. I love it. I love it. She's like first lady, what I'm going to go do my job. Like, I love it. I love it.

Daphné Vanessa (00:51:44): I respect it so much. So we covered so much. I, I want to kind of give the audience some takeaways, like what, what do you do with all of this information, right? It's almost overwhelming when you realize how massive the problem is. What as a borrower, as just a private citizen, what can we do as people to help drive progress towards the policy agenda on government side, but also what are some key strategies to just addressing the student loan crisis on an individual level?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:52:20): So certainly, you know, on a policy side, keep your elected officials accountable, hold them accountable, call their offices. All those things still work. People care about what their local, um, their local constituency, uh, thinks about them and whether they will vote for them. So it is worth, it is worth engaging at that level. I've seen people do that and get the attention of lawmakers who start pushing those issues. I don't see why that can't happen again. I know that we are in a very kind of toxic environment and the way in which federal policy is taking place, but there's still glimmers of hope in seeing, um, constituencies really drive home. What is important to them. So reach out and not just at the federal level, but at the state level States have grant programs, States have appropriation powers to support their flagships, their regionals, and their community colleges.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:53:11): You know, like I said, it was those middle and upper income parents complaining about the cost of tuition that drove a lot of those tuition freezes that were imposed from state legislatures in some instances. So the power is there as for personal side, I mean really educating yourself about your options. So if you're past the point of taking on all those loans, if you were like me 21 and looking at $50,000 of debt, you know, you're not alone. So at that stage, you know, the things I wish I had done that I really didn't is study the repayment options. I had no idea income, income driven repayment was an option for me. And this was like 2000, 2003. The terms are not as nice as they are right now, but at least it was something. And I didn't know about it. And I wish I did because there were points in my life where I wasn't making a lot of money where it would have been helpful, you know, income driven repayment plans.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:54:10): I know, I see a lot of people talking about, Oh, well, that's an option for debt forgiveness. That's debatable. There are literally like 46 people to date who have received debt forgiveness from, uh, those income-based repayment plans because of how, how they're set up in such, I think like the earliest one is 1992, it was created. So it's been awhile, but still it's so few and far between, because there are all these like points where you could mess up and get kicked out of the program and have to re-enroll all this other stuff, but it is a really great debt management tool. So if you're like coming out of college, your income is, is pretty low. You're having a hard time making payments on your standard. Uh, 10 year repayment plan IVR, or one of those programs is worth, worth your while and learning more about it, but realize that if you are not trying to hold onto that debt for the next 20 years, which I know I wasn't, uh, then they're, you know, being strategic about how you pay your debt.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:55:07): You know, one of the things I worry about, um, being someone who has a national platform is that I don't want to scare people off from taking out loans. Like I said before in with strategic use of, of, uh, education financing, it can be beneficial. You know, the benefits outweigh the detriments, depending on how educated you are, about what you are getting into and the field you're getting into and what it pays. You know, one of the things I think someone told me at one point, it was like, you probably shouldn't take out more than what you're going to make on average the first year out of school, right? You could go to the Bureau of labor statistics and find out what the average teacher makes. Right. Probably keep the borrowing, right? No more than that. If you're not trying to stay in the, in one of those income based repayment programs.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:55:54): So the, you know, the next two decades, you know, one of the things I did that I thought was really useful is I consolidated my federal loans. I had two or three different ones consolidate it. You know, they, they give you the average of the interest rates on all those loans. So it's not like a huge cost savings, but it did simplify my life in that respect. And at the time I was lucky enough that interest rates were super low. So it was like, I think with automatic, uh, withdrawal, I was paying like three point percent interest on really good. It really wasn't that bad.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:56:27): My husband on his student loans, baby, you got to pay that off.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:56:36): It's just ridiculous. And how, depending on when you went to school or what year you graduated, took out the loans, all that kind of stuff. Um, you may have like 8% interest versus 3% interest and that's discouraging. But knowing that you have the option to consolidate is useful. Now, certainly you can, um, try to refinance your loans for the private markets. That is an option. So five common bond, the rest, uh, and rates are really low right now. But I do caution that you lose those consumer protections that are afforded by the federal government. You are at the mercy of private lenders when things get rough, not all of them are very understanding and did that could become a problem there. Um, the other thing I would say is, you know, be patient with yourself, don't, don't internalize the messaging, that it is your fault.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:57:25): You were irresponsible, all this other things in part, the system has failed you in some respects, right? And in part you, of course, you do have the responsibility to pay back that debt one way or the other. But we do have to start thinking about what are the ways in which the federal government could try to re to ease this for you? One of the things I did and, you know, it's debatable as to whether it was the best solution. I didn't like go whole hog trying to pay off that debt right away. Because for a few reasons, there is no safety net in my life there isn't running to mommy and daddy to help bail me out enough. And so I had to create that for myself. And what that meant is paying what was owed and trying to save, trying to save, to create the safety net just in case.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:58:08): And you know, when I say that I'm like, my parents have helped me out a lot over the course of my life. Uh, as you know, it's, it's amazing to me the other day, I had this conversation with my dad. I was like, do you feel bad about having to take out a parent plus loan? My father just paid that off. I am 40. Okay. And I felt horrible about it. I was like, I feel bad that because of my decisions of where to go to school, you had, it was like, no, you were worth it. Best investment I ever made. That's

Daphné Vanessa and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:58:34): That was it was so cute, I was like, you get a good Christmas present. [Yes, dad, love it.] Yes.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:58:41): But I mean, still thinking about the fact that you have to think about the totality of your financial life, man. Like you have to plan for retirement, you have to do all those things. Like at 25. Yeah. I had the student debt, but I also needed to plan for a time and I'll try not to work the rest of my life. So yes, I took advantage of my 401k and I would advise anyone else to do the same. Like don't let, I know that the burden of debt weighs heavy on your shoulders when you're in it. But there are so many programs to allow you to kind of pay as you can, while saving for the other aspects of your life. You know, it would be fantastic if we didn't have to worry about this, the reality is here. We don't know whether student debt forgiveness is coming in the form of what we'd like to see, you know, 50,000.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:59:30): I don't know if the government's about to drop $640 billion on, on bad debt, maybe 10,000 per person. But for a lot of people that 10,000 would actually not feel like anything. Because if you're in income based repayment, you're still going to be paying the same amount every month, just with less money owed at the end. But so if you have to start making some decisions and trade offs about what you want to, how you want your life, so it'd be lived. And a part of that is not letting this debt consume you. And some of it is as basic, like self-help stuff, you're good enough. You're important enough and dark garnered people like you. So it's okay if you have this debt, it doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't make you an irresponsible, horrible person. Part of this is systemic failure and yes, this is a responsibility, but it doesn't have to define the rest of your adult life.

Daphné Vanessa (01:00:24): Beautiful. I think a lot of our listeners needed to hear that because we've heard from listeners that are emotional, you know, going through it because they just want to see an end and they don't see an end. So I think letting people know that you are enough is actually beautiful and probably one of the most powerful things that you could say. So thank you for that.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:00:50): So, one thing I wanted to bring up with the, uh, with the listeners, especially because I think this is a great episode to talk about, uh, one hearing from an expert, you know, clearly Danielle, you eat, breathe and love this topic and not just the topic itself, but what it does for the community and the people at large, right? Your mission is, is admirable. And I appreciate that. How can people connect with you? I think you said, you know, an educated citizenry as we've heard before, um, you know, depending on how it looks, uh, jokes, jokes, but, um, but seriously, I think that, um, what, what's the best way that folks can stay on top of this? Cause like Daffy had mentioned before, it is a lot, this is a lot of information, but you know, luckily for us, we, we keep up with you and we keep up with, with others that are in this space, I guess what's the best way for people to connect with you, Danielle?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:01:37): I mean, follow me on social media. I'm on Twitter sparingly because sometimes it's assessable. Let's just be honest, but I, you know, the other thing is email me. I, um, I tried my best to respond to everybody who emails me. And it's funny. I, I told, uh, source of mine as a department that I'm like the unpaid student loan servicer. It's yo it is, it is sometimes it just hurts my heart because a lot of the people who've been contacting me lately are like my parents' age, who still have this debt. And I just feel for them. And I like, I wish I had better to tell you. And I don't, I don't give advice because one, I might get fired.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:02:20): Honestly,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:02:20): I am not, I am not the expert. There are people out there who are really kind and offering free advice, right? Who are not asking for a cent and we'll try to help you work through all of these kinds of issues. And I often just kind of give their name and information over to make sure that people realize that they're not alone. Somebody could try to walk you through it. Um, so feel free to reach out to me, you know, daniel.Douglas@washpost.com. I, I, like I said, try my best to always respond to readers in particular, especially people who need help because the beauty of the, again, this platform, this position is that I know people, I don't know all the people, but I know enough people who I know, at least in my experiences with them, they, they really do want to help you in their heart.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:03:06): Like they really do care about your wellbeing in a, in a way that has no financial benefit and being able to connect folks who are in trouble or struggling with those folks is probably the most rewarding and satisfying part of my job. I don't ever have to win anything ever in life. No one ever has to know I exist. But if I can help that, that father who was 65 and had $200,000 worth of debt from 1980 something, if I could help him figure out a path towards just hope, this hope, just give him hope. That would be enough. Thank you. You're you're doing it for the right reasons. Um, I respect you so much. Thanks. Thank you for gracing us with your presence. Thank you, God. It was lovely to be with you guys. It's such an awesome time, uh, being able to talk about this wonky stuff.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:03:59): No, we appreciate it. Danielle, do you have a, and I just want to plug for the Washington post too, just for the listeners that are out there. I don't know how long this will last. Right. But right now, um, the Washington post, you can subscribe for a dollar a week. That's $4 a month. So, um, the work that Danielle does and the work that a lot of journalists do is not free. Um, it takes a lot of effort in time. I know, uh, I just want to put it out there. I'll, I'll make the shameless plug,

Shamil Rodriguez (01:04:23): You know, it's important

Shamil Rodriguez (01:04:24): To, to support journalism. Uh, but then yeah, we, we do like our, our guests too, to kind of sound off and give like one final parting message for the audience. Uh, is there anything in particular that you wanted to share with the audience, uh, before you go,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:04:37): I guess just reiterating the point that don't let your debt define you. There's so much more to you than this moment than this time in your life and you can get past it and it'll, and it's amazing. I just finished paying off my loans and I, I felt amazing doing it.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:04:59): Yo. Like the first month I was like, I don't have to pay you people, you know? It's funny. I, yeah,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:05:07): I, I see the arguments. Well, what about the people who paid off their debt? They didn't get the cancellation. I don't care if y'all get that cancellation fan tastic. That's awesome because

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:05:18): No one should have to be worried about this and working like four or five jobs with this burden over the overt on their shoulders. So it's all good again, don't let it define you. You are more than enough. You are fantastic for even striving to get that education and don't let anybody tell you any different.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:05:36): All right, Danielle, thank you so much, everyone. That's a wrap. If you want to find out more information, you can log in on the show notes. We're going to include as many links as we can. Some of the references that Danielle made, some of the references that we made here visit the student loan podcast.com/episode 17. That's number one seven. That's the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 17.

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