Alan Collinge is on a mission. It’s a mission that has left him demoralized and destitute, yet more determined than ever.
For a decade now, Mr. Collinge has been fighting to make it easier for borrowers, himself included, to wipe out their student-loan debt. He has collected thousands of stories from financially distressed debtors, appeared in numerous documentaries and news reports, published a book, and been named a “hero” by CNN.
As he sees it, there is only one solution to spiraling student debt and rising defaults: restoring standard bankruptcy protections to all student loans, federal and private. All other efforts to ease the burden of repayment are just Band-Aids on a broken system.
Supporters credit Mr. Collinge, who turned 45 this month, with giving voice to underrepresented borrowers and removing some of the stigma of student-loan default. Donors to his organization, Student Loan Justice,say he gives them hope. One former Congressional aide marveled at his “raw passion and dedication.”
But his uncompromising nature — and his tendency to lash out at those who fall short of his standards — has also earned him a reputation as a loose cannon. His expletive-laced emails and personal, public attacks on lenders as well as borrowers’-rights groups have alienated would-be allies, and, some say, undermined his credibility as an advocate. <Read more.>