When you have school spirit and crushing student debt

Who: Student Debt Crisis Center, and No Fixed Address.

What: “The Major Debt Collection,” a line of customizable varsity sweatshirts to raise awareness and start conversations about student debt in America.

When & Where: The clothing line dropped in mid-December, and people can order one at the StudentDebtCrisis.org website, with the non-profit relying on influencers and earned /owned media to raise awareness.

Why: American student debt has reached $1.7 trillion, and while President Joe Biden introduced a loan forgiveness program last year, it has been “fruitless,” thanks in part to “swirling confusion,” said a release introducing the new clothing collection.

“Major Debt is a unique story-sharing project designed to provoke a meaningful discussion about student debt cancellation,” said Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, in the release. “It is our hope that the imagery both highlights the outrageous cost of higher education and empowers students, borrowers and parents to engage with their communities to create solutions that end the student debt crisis once and for all.”

How: The idea is simple: Varsity style sweatshirts in school colours, but with school logos replaced by the amount of outstanding student debt borne by the wearer. After a first drop with “public figures advocating for student debt cancellation,” the group is now inviting former students to sign up for their own shirt customized with their debt load.

“We wear our school sweatshirts with pride—even when in reality that sweatshirt is costing the average American nearly $40,000 in student loan debt,” said Alexis Bronstorph, chief creative officer at No Fixed Address. “It was this disconnect that inspired the Major Debt Collection. It’s time to stop hiding from these numbers and start taking a stand against them.”

And we quote: “We believe that student debt is a systemic policy failure, not a personal failure. That is why we call on allies across the country to wear their debt, literally, in a bold statement about America’s broken higher education system.” — Natalia Abrams, president, Student Debt Crisis Center

David Brown