letters and counting!
Open Letter to Judith Rodin Dear Ms. Rodin, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to consider the story I have to tell. I am a 58-year-old single grandmother who teaches special education students in a California public school. I am proud of my career, my students, and my school. Our school is well-known in our community as a school of character. As President of the Rockefeller Foundation, former president of University of Pennsylvania, and a current Citigroup board member I believe that you, too, must value character. In 2000 I was a married wife and mother of two fine sons. Our older son had recently graduated from a small private college and was fast making a name for himself in software research and development. My husband was a clergyman with a fair income, and I was happy to be paid the going rate as a public school teacher. Our second son had just been accepted to New York University. He, like his brother, was brilliant and talented, and had his heart set on NYU. We filled out the paperwork for financial aid, including applying for parent loans. Citi awarded us over $100,000 of parent loans during his college years. But times change. My husband left. My older son battled medical problems that required him to return home. Costs of living increased without compensatory raises. Our home, which is every family's hedge against the future, had to be sold as debts grew. Sold in an upside-down housing market. But at least I could sell the house. I now find myself owing nearly $100,000. Can I possibly work long enough to pay it off? I believe that the same banking policies that awarded home loans to people who were ultimately doomed to default also awarded parent and college loans far in excess of the borrowers' ability to repay. When the Wall Street/banking crisis hit, the very corporations that had brought about the failure were 'bailed out" by the citizens of this country. But when a single person unwisely burdened with too great a debt falls into crisis, there is no where to go. The safety net for individual citizens - bankruptcy - is unavailable to me. Not only do I "make too much," but education loans are not eradicated by bankruptcy or debt consolidation. I am accustomed to making good decisions and paying my debts - to "making my own way." I believe Citigroup policies are in large measure responsible for the unbearable situation in which I now survive. I am not working to make a home or a future for myself. I am working to service my debt. As a woman of character, I beg you to consider your company's complicity in the unbearable situation in which I and millions of other American parents find ourselves. It is never too late for people of character to make a change. With warmest regards, S. McGee