sloppy student loan journalism

Bloomberg drops the ball on good journalism

Michael Lux Blog, News, Student Loans 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: Yesterday Bloomberg published an article entitled “Don’t Believe the Student Loan Sob Stories”.  The following is a letter sent to the author and editor responsible for the article.

Dear Sirs,

As I am confident you both are well aware of the critical role of the press in our society and national discourse, I’d like to draw your attention to an important factual omission in one of your recent articles, entitled “Don’t Believe the Student Loan Sob Stories”.

In your article you stated that income based repayment and loan forgiveness reduced the burden of student loan debt.  What you failed to mention is that these programs apply only to Federal loans.  Many students, especially the for-profit school students you made reference to earlier in your article, had to supplement their federal government loans with private loans.  These loans do not qualify for income based repayment, nor is forgiveness a possibility.

While I have your attention, I’d also like to express my concern about the fact that you chose to title your article, “Don’t Believe the Student Loan Sob Stories”.  This title seems to imply that student loan “sob stories” are somehow inaccurate or not to be trusted.  Given that the thesis of your article seems to be that student debt, though still growing, is slowing down; the title chosen would be an entirely inappropriate conclusion to draw from your analysis.

Furthermore, many of these “sob stories”, especially those students who went to a for-profit school, are valid according to the federal government.  In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in a lawsuit filed against one for-profit school, alleged that the school was falsifying employment data, forcing students into high interest private loans, and compensating their financial aid staff based in part on the number of students that signed up for these private loans.

As a result, many of these former students have been saddled with large debt and weak employment prospects.  They are struggling in a very real and profound way, and to suggest that these “sob stories” aren’t to be believed is not only sloppy journalism, but it marginalizes a large cross-section of Americans who deserve better.


A Concerned Citizen

Readers:  In many ways perception is reality and when the national media portrays student loans as not being a problem, public opinion can be altered.

If you are unsatisfied with this sort of journalism, please consider reaching out to the author and editor behind this article (their email addresses can be found at the conclusion of the original article).