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Monday, November 19, 2007

State Cracks Down on Student Loans at Akron U

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2007 at 11:35 AM

From keg stands to calculus, one might argue that college bears as much in common with real life as an episode of The Hills. Unless you consider massive debt and defaulting on your loans a very grown-up experience. On November 11, attorneys Mark Sheriff and Bruce Burkholder filed suit against 72 student loan borrowers on behalf of the state in Akron Municipal Court. The loans in question were no other than Federal Perkins Loans – slung at naïve co-eds as manageable, low interest, federally subsidized loans. Turns out that for many Akron U students, they aren’t as good as once promised. While the majority of the defendants took out under $5,000, the state is now seeking upwards of $20,000 in some cases, thanks to compounding interest rates as high as 8 percent, plus mandatory attorney fees. Most of the loans were taken out between 1994 and 1998. Marcia Macon-Bruce, Ohio’s chief of collections enforcement, says there’s nothing unusual about this particular slew of lawsuits. “It was probably just a strategy used by outside council,” Macon-Bruce says. “They probably just went to Akron that day, and based on the inventory they had, thought to do it in one swoop.” As to why 10-year-old loans were finally being placed in collections, Macon-Bruce says she’s unsure why Akron U took so long in sending its default cases to the attorney general. “It’s atypical,” she says. “But sometimes we do get really old debt.” Punch has one idea why the school has finally targeted these loans. It just so happens that the week before the suits were filed, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Akron U’s president Luis Proenza yearly retirement payout had been increased by over $84,000. That brings Proenza’s annual retirement package to over $400,000 – the second highest of any public university president in the country. Welcome to your first course in real life, guys. – Denise Grollmus

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