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"60 Minutes" puts the spotlight on Sallie Mae

From Inside Higher Ed:

Sallie Mae received the full “60 Minutes� treatment Sunday night, in a segment that highlighted criticism that the student loan giant profits on the backs of students and taxpayers.

The issues raised in the segment (some highlights of which are available on the CBS show’s Web site) wouldn’t surprise anyone who has kept an eye on student-loan debates over the last decade. But by focusing on individual borrowers, the show put human faces on the issues — and reached many millions more than the reports that policy analysts regularly release on loan policy.

The show gave several examples of borrowers who were shocked to find how much greater their loan repayments were than the sums they borrowed. Each of these borrowers also had various difficulties that the show portrayed Sallie Mae as being “unforgiving� in handling. One student found himself unemployed, another was diagnosed with an illness, and a third lost his home in an earthquake.

Sallie Mae was described as refusing to help these borrowers, one of whom helped create a Web site, Student Loan Justice, that criticizes the lending industry. One expert interviewed by Lesley Stahl described student borrowers as being “served up like turkeys at a Thanksgiving dinner.�

The show also made hay of the fact that the company’s chairman and former chief executive, Albert L. Lord, has been highly compensated and is building a personal golf course.