Why I’m Running for President.

Alan Collinge
9 min readJan 25, 2024

The federal student loan program is finished. Student loan borrowers need to Unite.


I am the first political activist in America on the student loan issue, I’ve fought for 20 years to compel Congress and the President fix what has become an unconstitutional, hyper-inflationary debt trap due to the stripping of fundamental consumer protections from the loans. I’ve watched what began as a relatively minor, unreported injustice grow into a massive, misreported catastrophe of nationally threatening proportions.

I never imagined, twenty years ago, that this problem would be allowed to grow, unchecked for this long, much less that I would be compelled to run for President as a means to solving it.

In 2005, I founded StudentLoanJustice.Org to bring borrowers together to bring about a reasonable legislative solution to this problem: the return of standard bankruptcy protections to the debt. The Founders called for this right ahead of the power to raise an army and declare war in the Constitution, and removing this right uniquely from student loans has given the government and it’s business partners a license to steal. This- along with the removal of statutes of limitations, Truth-in-Lending Laws, Fair Debt Collection laws, and other protections- has weaponized these loans, and created a loan scam the likes of which this country has never before seen.

In 2008, I wrote The Student Loan Scam (Beacon Press), the first book to be critical of the lending system.

Over two decades of careful observation, I’ve seen this problem explode to unimaginable proportions. I have documented incalculable damage done to people and the country as a direct or indirect result of these loans, including suicides, familicides, expatriation, broken marriages and disintegrated families, families not formed, career and life goals deferred. I’ve also documented countless examples of financial extortion that would make most wince. Below are just a few examples.

Politically, the Democrats appeared to be on our side (the borrower’s side) from the outset. They said that they were committed to returning bankruptcy rights to the loans. Their rhetoric was empathetic to the borrowers. Leading liberal voices like then-Harvard Bankruptcy Professor Elizabeth Warren spoke eloquently and clearly about the problem. The Republicans were, largely, against us, and tended to do everything possible to make the loans more expensive, and harmful to borrowers and their families.

After a seminal top story on 60 Minutes in 2006 where we were the anchoring interview, Ted Kennedy passed his last piece of higher education legislation (The Student Loan Sunshine Act) on our behalf (although it did not include the return of bankruptcy rights). In 2007, Hillary Clinton (to her credit) similarly sponsored a Student Borrower “Bill of Rights” Act that would have returned bankruptcy rights on our behalf. These were all good signs that endeared our group to the Democrats.

In 2008, The Democrats swept the elections of that year, winning the Presidency, The House, and the Senate. Our nascent movement had hope! I thought my job would soon be done.

A “rider” that would have returned bankruptcy rights to private student loans came up, but to our dismay, the “Blue Dog Democrats” banded together with the Republicans to kill this amendment. The Bill of Rights Act (Clinton re-introduced it in the 2008 congressional session) went nowhere. This was hugely disappointing, but the Democrats claimed that the 2008 Home Mortgage Crisis had overwhelmed them, and so they couldn’t get it through. We, naively, believed them. In 2010, they lost control of the House of Representatives. Little did we know, it would be 10 long years before the Democrats would regain full control of the House, Senate, and Presidency.​​​​

Through 8 years of the Obama Presidency, nearly $1 Trillion had been added to the nation’s debt tab, despite all manner of friendly sounding rhetoric.

Upon President Trump’s election in 2016, we anticipated that he would do nothing good for student loan borrowers, and he did not disappoint. Trump and Betsy DeVos only watched the problem get worse, and but for the pandemic pause , the explosive growth of the nation’s student debt tab would have been worse than what we saw under President Obama.​ Interestingly, Trump’s appointee who ran the lending system- having seen this problem from the inside- became a rare truth-teller after resigning and began calling for widespread cancellation. He was not listened to, and his political fortunes did not go well thereafter.

By 2019, it had become obvious that the entire federal student loan program was in catastrophic failure, and that the loans would largely have to be cancelled. Bankruptcy rights still had to be returned as a first move, but really, the federal student loan program was finished. In March 2020, I started the petition which sparked the national conversation- and legislation on cancelling student loans by executive order. It grew to over 1 million signatures, and the concept was championed by Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and others.

Finally, in 2020, the Democrats regained the “trifecta”: The Presidency, and control of both the house and the Senate. We trusted that finally, the Democrats would return bankruptcy rights to the loans, as they had promised to do for decades, including in the DNC Platform since 2016, and that the President would meaningfully- if not totally- cancel federally owned student loans by executive order. Joe Biden and the Democrats promised both of those things in the runup to the election.


Neither of those things happened. There was a bipartisan Senate bill in the 2020 session that would have returned limited bankruptcy rights to federal student loans, but Democrat Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin chose, at the last minute, to not push the bill, under pressure from universities, who opposed a modest re-imbursement clause in the legislation. Similarly, Elizabeth Warren refused to even take a position on the bill. The Democrats betrayed us. Much was at stake, and the Democrats chose fealty to the colleges over the people.

While Biden promised to cancel loans before the election, he went back on his word shortly after winning. The scaled-down loan cancellation he half-heartedly attempted was feeble, and likely designed to fail. Leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi opposed the cancellation, and a corrupted Supreme Court, unsurprisingly, struck it down. The cancellations we’ve seen in the first 3 years of Biden’s administration are largely loans that should have been cancelled, by law, years or even decades ago, and are almost insignificant compared to the projected growth of the federal portfolio over 3 years:

Today, as I write this, the lending system is completely and totally failed by all rational metrics. The loans are now turned back on, the predatory underpinnings remain fully intact, and 80% of all borrowers are not paying.

The lending system is essentially finished, and hundreds, if not thousands of bureaucrats, analysts, and members of Congress in and around Washington DC knew full well this was coming. Yet, they did nothing. And it is clear that they have no desire or intentions of doing anything. They have shown that they will continue to inflict this loan scam on the public.

Trump and Biden have already had 3–4 years in the White House and it is clear what they will do: nothing meaningful. beyond exploiting this problem for votes. Both candidates and their respective parties have demonstrated their fealty to the colleges, the Department of Education, and the lending industry over the borrowers. The return of bankruptcy rights is no closer to happening today than when I started. In fact, it appears less likely to happen as time goes on under this two-party political monopoly. With either of these two men as President again, I see zero chance of this problem being solved, and a 100% chance of it continuing for years or decades to come. The damage this will do to the country is incalculable.

Make no mistake: If what was done to student loans is allowed to stand, very dark forces in Washington DC, Manhattan, and elsewhere will use this precedent to similarly weaponize all consumer debt. If this injustice is allowed to stand, we are looking- as a nation- down a dismal and dangerous path…precisely what the Founders didn’t want when they called for uniform bankruptcy laws ahead of the power to coin currency and create a Judiciary.

This is not acceptable. We do not have to put up with this. We cannot and must not allow this scam to continue any longer.

Given the dangerous, partisan gridlock we now face, and the grim future in store for us, the best, most appropriate and worthwhile action I can take that might prevent this nationally threatening outcome is to run for President. I know of no one else in the country both able and willing to make and defend the argument for cancelling the loans and replacing the lending system, certainly not among the current candidates. I see no one else stepping up to take this on.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

As President, I will cancel all federally owned student loans through the Higher Education Act, which gives the Secretary very broad authority to waive the debt. I’ll use any other tools necessary to accomplish this. I’ll also return bankruptcy rights to all student loans. I’ll suspend the lending program, and force Congress and the Department of Education to replace the federal program with a reasonable, fair, rationally priced higher education financing system. I’ll compel the colleges to re-imburse the taxpayer any actual costs that might result. I will end this scam.

Beyond student loans, many will rightly question my fitness to preside over the legion of challenges that this country faces. I can only assure you, today, that I have thought deeply about the nation’s most pressing problems, whether/how the federal government can solve these problems, and that my fitness for this office will reveal itself in the weeks and months to come as I roll out my agenda.

Generally, I will embrace the best ideas from both parties, starting with taxing the very wealthy, and trimming government spending significantly. I will ignore the socially/culturally divisive issues that are not amenable to federally legislated solutions, but which are repeatedly injected into the national conversation by wealthy media interests for the purpose of distraction. I also will not be distracted by the dozens of “Palace Intrigue” issues that are similarly foisted into the zeitgeist for distraction purposes. If you have a a policy issue that you feel strongly about, that is appropriate for Presidential action, and a well-thought-out prescription for how the President/Congress should solve it, please let me know.

​I expect we will draw voters proportionally from both parties. There are 40 million borrowers of all political stripes who will never be able to repay their loans. This is enough to elect a President outright in a 3–4 candidate election.

I hope and believe that my agenda will be at least minimally acceptable to you and the large majority of student loan borrowers. Frankly, I believe and hope that many people beyond just student loan borrowers will be attracted to our agenda if we can first make every student loan borrower in the country aware of this campaign!

Believe it or not, we actually can win this. At the very least, we can mount a very credible threat to both parties, since student student loan borrowers (despite what you may have read) are a balanced mix of Independents, Republicans and Democrats. This could solve this problem before the election, but it will only happen with your help.

If you have student loans and understand the urgency of this battle, please support this campaign- regardless of what you judge our chances to be. Tell everyone you know with student loans to do the same. Remember that 4-in-5 borrowers aren’t able to make payments on their loans. You aren’t alone. Find them. Bring them here, to this campaign.

You should come out of the shadows and help us fight. For what it’s worth: The Founders are on our side. We are a better country than this.


Alan Collinge

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Alan Collinge

I am Founder of StudentLoanJustice.Org, author of The Student Loan Scam (Beacon Press), and creator of the petition Change.Org/CancelStudentLoans