Our Story

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…

This is our story.

Freedom.

Our country was founded on it. As our nation grew and changed, we came to understand that our freedom to grow and prosper was strengthened by high school and college education.

We saw that we needed educated, informed citizens if we were to have government of, by, and for the people.

In many places around the country, college education was affordable – or even free — for many years through the public university system. Affordable land-grant colleges in many other states helped educate farmers, scientists, and other young people who went on to make the world a better place.

Not everyone wants to go to college or trade school, of course. But the people who do contribute to society – as doctors, farmers, engineers, teachers, truck drivers, veterinarians, and in many other useful jobs.

The G.I. Bill, passed after World War II, helped millions of people in all walks of life: sending them to trade schools, universities, and medical schools – all sorts of programs for all sorts of lives. It educated 67,000 doctors, 91,000 scientists, 238,000 teachers, 450,000 engineers, three presidents, three Supreme Court justices, 14 Nobel Prize winners – and Johnny Cash, too!

More could have been helped by the G.I. bill, if racism and sexism hadn’t kept millions of Americans from receiving a higher education.

These barriers robbed people of their rights, and held us all back economically. Despite these obstacles, our nation enjoyed unparalleled economic growth for a quarter of a century after the G.I. Bill passed. Science, technology, and the arts flourished. More Americans entered public service.

Then something went very wrong…

For generations, society invested in educating young people. Now, the younger people among us are forced to borrow huge sums of money to pay for their education. Once, we recognized that education serves everyone and should be supported by everyone. Now, people are forced to bear the cost alone, as individuals.

The younger students among us were promised good jobs and prosperity, but many of them graduated into the worst job market in modern history. (For more on the student loan trap, click here. For more on the millennial economy, click here.)

It wasn’t fair. And…

It was a trap.

Now, 44 million people are stuck in the student loan trap. They owe $1.5 trillion – and the number goes up every day.

(Want to learn where student debt is the worst? Check out the Student Debt Map for an interactive zip code experience.

Support is growing for tuition-free public colleges and universities, because people understand that education must be available to everyone. Several states are taking bold action to re-implement this important right. We believe that this idea will be widely adopted soon. (For more about tuition-free higher education, click here.)

But what about the 44 million who carry student debt today? Those of us who have debt – along with our loved ones, our friends, and our communities – carry the burden of this failed social experiment.

(Read a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting and Consumer Reports, “Who got rich off the student debt crisis?”)

This student debt trap hurts all of us.

It hurts the young.

It hurts the middle-aged.

It hurts older people.

It hurts communities of color.

It hurts women.

It hurts communities, and people who didn’t go to college.

But there is good news.

We can fix it.

We, the people, own this debt. We can decide what to do with it. We can choose to free 44 million people from the student loan trap.

Well over 90 percent of all student debt is owned by the federal government. That means that we, the American people, own it. We can cancel all of that debt, and pay off the other 5 percent owned by private lenders.

And here’s the best part: We can afford it. In fact, as this Levy Economic Institute report shows, the economy will actually grow when we cancel this debt.

Four leading economists did a detailed analysis, using commonly-accepted techniques, and found that freeing people from student debt will help the American economy. How? Without student debt, people will be free to buy homes and cars, to marry and start families, and to pursue their dreams.

This will boost the economy by $1 trillion over 10 years and create millions of jobs. Freedom from student debt will create prosperity – not just for the 44 million, but for everyone. It’s the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do.

Let’s get free.

How can we make this happen? In a word: Together.

It’s time for us to come together to demand change.

Freedom to Prosper and Freedom to Prosper Action are dedicated to ending all student debt through education and action.

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Student debt impacts millions of people, of all ages.

What would you do if you were free from the student debt trap? How would your life be different?

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