Critics of the United States’ student debt crisis took aim at loan corporation Sallie Mae on Friday after NBC News reported on a trip the company’s executives took over the summer to Hawaii to celebrate record-breaking sales in 2018.
NBC reported Thursday night that more than 100 executives and salespeople used some of the profits raked in from 45 million Americans who collectively owe $1.6 trillion in student loans for an all-expenses-paid retreat in Maui in August.
Sallie Mae lent $5 billion last year to 374,000 borrowers. One in five Americans owe student debt, a crisis which has contributed to many young people delaying or forgoing home ownership, starting a small business, and having a family.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted that the story of Sallie Mae’s celebration bolstered his argument, central to his 2020 presidential campaign, that all student debt must be canceled.
Sallie Mae was founded in the 1970s to provide federal student loans, but has since transitioned to a private loan servicer. Critics including the state of Illinois, which sued Sallie Mae in 2017 for deceptive practices, accuse the corporation of using the same subprime lending tactics used by banks before the 2008 financial meltdown—offering loans to people who are unlikely to be able to repay them.
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