Kit Steinkellner
November 12, 2015 11:29 am

When it comes to student debt, the numbers are dismal. Since 1970, tuition has inflated a whopping 1120%. The total volume of student debt is currently $1.2 trillion,according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has more than doubled from $600 billion in 2006. The average college graduate owes $35,000 in debt, and, according to the bureau, 8 million borrowers are currently in default on their loans, while millions more are struggling to keep up with their payments.

This is an untenable situation and today college students are protesting by staging a mass walkout on campuses all across America. As RT reports, over 100 colleges are participating in the “Million Student March.”

So what is the march asking for?

“Education should be free. The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education … We are people of all colors, genders, and sexual orientation, and we are united to fight for education as a human right.”  organizers explained in a statement on the site (which had been down, today, due to capacity overload).

Other goals include the elimination all current student debt, and raising the campus workers’ minimum wage to $15 an hour.

As one of the lead organizers of the event, Keely Mullen, a student at Northeastern University in Boston who expects to graduate $150,000 in debt, explained to ThinkProgress, she was inspired to spearhead this event by democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who has made ending student debt one of his major platforms.

“If a million young people march on Washington they [say] to the Republican leadership, we know what’s going on, and you better vote to deal with student debt. You better vote to make public universities and colleges tuition free, that’s when it will happen,” Sanders said to Katie Couric in a June interview.

Mullen is hopeful that this movement will gain legs and pressure lawmakers into enacting real change.

“One of the reasons I think it’s not being handled way more aggressively by the Department of Education is that hasn’t been a massive student movement yet,” Mullen told ThinkProgress. “The approach of the Department of Education and particularly Hillary Clinton, who has probably the most centrist position on education, is a product of there not being pressure from below and I’m hoping that this movement blows up and provides that type of motivation to offices to take a stand on this.”

This is an urgent issue we can no longer ignore as a country, and we are so proud of the million-plus students who are going to stand up and walk out today for the rights they deserve.

Related reading:

Here’s what you need to know about student loan forgiveness

You can now go to college for free (but you have to move to Germany)

(Image via Million Student March)

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