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Reviews and Media Coverage


Meet The Filmmakers Who Are Fighting The Student Loan System

For anyone still paying for their education years after graduating, you could be forgiven for believing that Default resembles a horror movie more than a documentary.  Produced by Serge Bakalian and directed by  Aurora Meneghello, Default: the Student Loan Documentary takes a frank and frightening look at the student loan industry through interviews with borrowers, academics and student loan reform advocates.

-J. Maureen Henderson, Forbes


Default: The Student Loan Documentary puts a human face on the student debt crisis, following several borrowers’ stories of struggling with the student lending industry.

-Anna Lekas Miller, The Nation


This talk of student default goes far beyond dollars and statistics. These are human beings who are thrown into hopeless life situations because the tuition is too damn high. Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the new filmDefault: The Student Loan Documentary. I appreciate the film’s clarity in spelling out the nature of this American crisis and its impact on ordinary people. Borrowers break down and cry in front of the camera as they reveal the amount of money they owe in student loans. Some were brought to financial ruin as the result of prohibitively high monthly loan payments, compounded by illness or some other setback. Others are unable to get married and start a family because their loan payments prohibit it. One has to take a step back and ask if this is really what America has become.

Default touches on far more than the inability of college graduates to afford to repay their loans, and the financial ruin they face as they must choose between paying their rent, eating or paying off their mortgage-sized school debt. Although that heart-wrenching part of the story by itself is enough to warrant a documentary, the problem is even deeper, as the movie points out.

-David A Love, Huffington PostThe Progressive, The Grio, BlackCommentator.com



Washington Post


This documentary (DEFAULT:The Student Loan Documentary) makes a powerful statement…why do so many Americans have to beg, borrow or steal to get an education?!? For a country that wants less debt, we force anyone who wants to advance themselves to start their lives in the adult world that way. I spent years paying off my loans, while I piled up personal debt to do so; there’s something wrong with that, this film addresses it.

-Leslie Marshall, The Leslie Marshall Show, nationally syndicated radio show & FOX News contributor

DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary is an important movie about the need for consumer protections in the student loan industry. In a larger sense, it raises the question of whether education is a right or a privilege, and whether America wants to be the type of country that looks after and invests in its twenty-somethings, or not.

-Kenneth Jedding, author of Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in College


I hope people have the stomach for a horror film, because that’s what the documentary, ‘Default,’ is. Students and their families are being let to slaughter at the altar of a promise of false riches from education, and then left bloody and broken by escalating debts they will never be able to pay. We have to win real relief from these burdens. We must change this system!

-Wade Rathke, chief organizer, ACORN International & author of Citizen Wealth: Winning the Campaign to Save Working Families and the upcoming book, The Battle for Lower Ninth: ACORN and the Rebuilding of New Orleans


Default: The Student Loan Documentary tells the story of a generation of Americans dealing with a set of unfortunate circumstances: an unemployment rate hovering around 9%, rising tuition costs across the country and an unforgiving private student loan on their back. The film documents the harsh reality these young graduates face, many first-generation college students, as they deal with these large financial burdens with no way out. Some were saddled with illness while others had their professional and personal life choices drastically limited.

-Sabria Hersi Issa, AlterNet

Default: The Student Loan Documentary highlights a major issue for millennials.

-Craig Berger, Future Majority


Default: The Student Loan Documentary is a riveting movie by Aurora Meneghello and Serge Bakalian. It chronicles the stories of borrowers from different backgrounds affected by the student lending industry and their struggles to change the system. Few Americans have the full understanding what the student loan predators are doing to college students and how the GOP has been complicit— in return for gigantic, legalistic bribes. The film is being screened around the country— I saw it the other day— and hopefully it will be released nationally soon.

             –Howie Klein, Down With Tyranny!

DEFAULT, over the course of its half-hour running time, charts the the broken careers, relationships, and lives that crippling student loan debt leaves in its wake. As the film makes repeatedly clear, right now there’s simply no way out of student loan debt.

-Patrick St. John, For Student Power


The group Occupy Student Debt, another offspring of the protests, has started a website where students and graduates are posting pictures of themselves with a piece of paper detailing the amount they took out in loans and the amount they still owe. Many students describe taking out tens of thousands of dollars for school, and owing even more because of high interest rates.

“Many people at the protests which I’m going to are out there because of the student debt crisis,” said Kyle McCarthy (of DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary), who started the website OccupyStudentDebt.com.

-Christine Amario, Associated Press: Occupy Protests Spread to College Campuses

Default: The Student Loan Documentary, a 27-minute feature that follows the debt struggles student loan borrowers face after the recession… the documentary has been screened at universities across the country, such as Arizona State and Michigan State, and has been written about in the The Nation and Forbes magazines.

-Nesa Nourmohammadi, The Gazette

Default is a timely, vital film to watch and disseminate, as America rapidly approaches a precipice: by June 2012, student loan debt will have reached $1 TRILLION. With a mainstream media chillingly silent on this issue, Default is a voice for countless Americans lost in a wilderness of insurmountable student loan debt, and trapped in an unjustly punitive repayment system.

          –Dustin Slaughter, US Uncut Philadelphia activist and founder of The David and Goliath Project

After watching this film, I immediately reached for my own student loan paperwork to reassess the damage.

Josh Wolf, journalist & First Amendment hero


Default is an eye-opening documentary that sheds light on a little-known area of education financing: the high cost of largely unregulated student loans. Unlike most forms of financial lending, student loans do not carry the same federal regulatory protections afforded to most equivalent financial vehicles. As a result, many students face ballooning debts over their lifetimes and credit problems that affect all aspects of their lives, including employment. Deemed ‘unhirable’ due to credit issues, many students are not able to put their education to use, and forced to work hourly jobs for which they are often overqualified.

-Alex Frankel, author of Punching in: One Man’s Undercover Adventures on the Front Lines of America’s Best-Known Companies, and Wordcraft:The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business, journalist for Fast CompanyOutside,Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.

I’m so pleased to tell you that the makers of Default: The Student Loan Documentary have partnered with Bigger Than Your Block to include the trailer for Default in all copies of my second book, 10 Things Students Need to Know About Money.

As you know, my work educating folks about how important personal finance is includes college costs as well. Right now paying for college is one of the biggest challenges many families have. Traditionally, taking out loans has been the way many college students have bridged the gap between costs and available funds. While loans are not bad in and of themselves, many students weren’t sure of what they were getting themselves into and found themselves with a mountain of debt. Default: The Student Loan Documentary will help families better understand loan products. I’m proud that this informational documentary trailer will be available with 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money.

Shay Olivarria, author of 10 Things College Students Need to Know to Know About Money

So now students find themselves in debt, underemployed, underpaid and even bankrupt — see, for example, Default: The Student Loan Documentary (see preview below) which depicts the reality of the student debt crisis in North America, following several borrowers’ struggles and their eventual loan defaults. The students followed found they were unable to start paying back their loans without a good job and without the resources to manage private loan interest rates, which spiraled out of control, making debt servicing simply insurmountable.

                -Antony WilsonThe Changemaker NetworkGeneration DEFAULT:Students Rise Up

Default: The Student Loan Documentary demonstrates how student debt can be hard to manage, especially for people who face underemployment, unemployment or illness. The film shines a light on the difficultly particularly private student loan borrowers face — sky high penalties and fees, uncapped variable interest rates, and bankruptcy laws specially designed to favor private lenders.

Heather Jarvis, Student Loan Expert


Because we can’t declare bankruptcy on student loans, these companies have no reason to be cautious about giving out loans. That means: If you get sick, you still have to pay your loan. If you can’t get a job, you still have to pay your loan. In fact, it’s good for them if you can’t pay back your loan. If you go into forbearance (when you momentarily put a halt to your loan payments), interest causes your debt to keep growing and growing and growing. The more money you owe, the more money they get.

Default is a timely documentary, and one that should be shown to all high school students before they make the five-digit decisions that may wildly alter the course of their lives.

-Ken Ilgunas, The Spartan Student


Default shines a light on how a generation of students have been badly duped by predatory finance. If America wants a good crop of young people to lead the country forward then Default provides the narrative on where education reform should start. A must see for any student or parent who wants to protect themselves from a lifetime dogged by debt.

– Ross Ashcroft,The Renegade Economist

The vast increases in tuition and fees at public universities are now putting even more students in danger of falling into the kind of huge debts ably depicted in DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary.

-Tom Elias, California Focus syndicated columnist


The privatizing of public education has many faces.  One of the ugliest, as the film DEFAULT dramatically demonstrates, is the transfer of public responsibility for providing student loans from government to the private student loan industry.

Profiteering by this toxic industry has both social and political impacts.  Graduating students receive not just a diploma, but a mortgage on their lives large enough to have bought a home a decade ago.  Young law school graduates whose dream is a career in public interest law feel themselves blocked from that path by overwhelming outstanding loans that they say forced them into corporate careers to repay their staggering debts.
The private student loan industry has truly defaulted on their responsibility to this country’s students, old and young.  Backed up by the power of the federal government, they rake in obscene profits while risking nothing — except the future of democratic education and, with it, of democracy itself.
It’s far past time to establish as a cornerstone of U.S. national policy the concept and practice of free public education—not just at the elementary and secondary levels, but for college and graduate school as well.  Nothing less than the future at stake.

Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich, Co-Authors, The Fox in the Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy

A documentary covering student loans has been missing for a while, and I think this film will help shed some light on a very dark situation for many young people. If you’ve been wondering about this area, check out their site and join the movement – they are doing a great job by helping young people understand this important situation.

-Tim Smith, Echo Boom BombFinancial and Economic  Analysis of the Echo Boom Generation

Serge Bakalian and Aurora Meneghello have created a poignant documentary that illustrates a massive gap in consumer protections. Default: the Student Loan Documentary shows how the government, universities, and lending companies have together created a system that has generated nearly 1 trillion dollars of student loan debt. However, unlike the credit card and mortgage debt bubbles, student loan debt is almost impossible for consumers to shed via bankruptcy. Why are two-thirds of college graduates left with tens of thousands of dollars of debt?
-Matt Lazar, ConsumerAffairs.com


Recently I listened to an interview with the filmmakers of Default: The Student Loan Documentary and was horrified to learn that the student loan debt in the US has overtaken the credit card debt. While I am so grateful to live in a country where we can take to the airwaves and shine a light on these “sores”, we can’t – even for a second – stop pushing those bruises and illuminating the dark recesses, however ugly what we find there might be. Independent filmmakers are so important in this regard. Kudos to the Default team.

~Jeni Decker, co-author of Waiting for Karl Rove and  I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames: My Insane Life Raising Two Boys with Autism


Without a doubt, this documentary, if seen by enough eyes, will be invaluable to my generation and those that follow. It is entirely unjust that student loans are the only loans that a person cannot default on, and such a tiny percentage of students know that when they are taking out loans at age 18. This cannot be. The burden cannot be this great on citizens. They cannot be productive or healthy if they do not have the chance to dream and be creative? What person can live freely if he or she carry’s the burden of student loans on their shoulders for so many years?

-Brittany Peterson, TheNation.com

Times sure have changed.  Default: the Student Loan Documentary shows how low cost student loans have evolved over time into a corporate Ponzi scheme. Eager students can borrow $25,000, pay Sallie Mae back $50,000, and still owe $25,000.  Director, Aurora Meneghello reveals a problem that threatens not only the future of education in this country, but Wall Street.

-Sue Wilson, SueWilsonReports.com, Director of the media reform documentary “Broadcast Blues

A MASSIVE, totally under-the-radar scandal in America. We’ll bring it out and put it ON the radar! Check out DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary!…I found it compelling and it’s important that we get the word out so people know they are not alone.  Something really needs to be done about it.  There are millions of students and former students just sitting here who are stuck with no escape hatch.

-Norman Goldman, The Norman Goldman Show


They waited for Michael Moore to make a documentary about it, but he didn’t. So they decided to make their own.

In a nutshell, that’s what spurred Serge Bakalian and Aurora Meneghello to travel around the country and interview hundreds of student loan borrowers while making their film, Default: The Student Loan Documentary.

-Carol Scott, Education Editor, Change.org


As I talk with parents around the country about college choices, one of the most difficult concepts to get across is the fact that going to college can ruin a student’s life. It’s not just the constant drug and alcohol parties, not just the deadly hazing rituals or the high rape and sexual assault statistics.

No, the worst thing colleges can do to students is put them in debt for the rest of their lives.  A new film Default: The Student Loan Documentary is making the rounds. Parents of high school students who are considering college MUST go see it.

The reality is that few graduates land the high paying jobs these days and as a result it takes decades to pay off the loan. About 20 percent of student loans go into default and the amount owed soars.

If you work at a college or a high school, see if you can set up a screening of this film. You could save a student from a life of poverty.

-Craig Brandon, Author of The Five Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up On Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It


“Default” puts a human face on the student loan debt crisis. It introduces viewers to students whose dreams of bettering their lives through college education turned into a continuing nightmare of financial servitude.

-Peter Wong, Beyond Chron


Just watched the documentary.  Terrific and powerful.  Hope it goes public soon… The film/documentary is terrific and moved me to contribute. Please let us know when it will air so we can help promote it.

-Morley Winograd,
Author of The Millennial Makeover


A revealing and inspiring documentary on the student loan industry and its inimical impact on college students, our economy and country as a whole.  What we think is a necessarily institution for fueling higher education, is profusely lucrative and unforgiving.  Systematic change needs to take place and DEFAULT can help spark it!

-Brenton Gieser, Co-Founder, Be Social Change

At USM, Commencement is fast approaching, and many seniors are about to begin the process of paying back their student loans.

People of all ages with student loan debt gathered Wednesday at the Hope.Gate.Way, a United Methodist community space in Portland, to tell their personal stories and discuss possible solutions to the problem. Attendees also watched a documentary on student loan debt entitled “Default,” which focused on several students whose student loans had spiraled out of control with high interest rates.

The documentary explained how people saddled with unmanageable balances caused by snowballing interest rates can face wage garnishments, seizing of tax refunds, revoking one’s professional license, taking away of federal benefits and lawsuits.

– Kristy Wagner, The Free Press

Default: The Student Loan Documentary is a great tool for educating students that their debt is not a personal issue, but a systematic problem. Learn how the system is stacked against students and how you can fight back.

-Andrew Porter, National Organizer, Young Democratic Socialists


Everyone thinking of going of college should see this. Every banker offering students loans should see this. Everyone in Congressman should see this. You should see this.

-Michael Jacoby Brown, author: Building Powerful Community Organizations


Default instills knowledge, frustration, and hope through interesting interviews, and credible facts. It empowered students on our campus to act against a system that takes advantage of  a students desire for higher education. I recommend that every student considering student loans watch it

-Mukhtar Ali, Policy Analyst, Executive VP of Statewide Affairs

Default: The Student Loan Documentary draws on the stories of individuals like you, expert testimony, and simply runs the raw numbers to bring that unfocused notion into crystal clarity.

This film takes the elephant in the room that has been invisible right in front of our faces, and highlights it with neon orange spraypaint. YES you are getting swindled! YES our higher educational system is broken. YES the USA is becoming a debtors prison. YES it really was easier to get a college degree and a good paying job when your parents were your age. What’s more YES there is something you can do about it!

Just as Howard Beal’s call to arms rallied a nation, Default: The Student Loan Documentary has the potential to be a flashpoint for an entire generation to organize around. It is my hope that this film it will spawn a generation-wide economic justice movement.
-Asher Platts, The Punk Patriot


She started the movie three years ago, without any funding, out of a strong belief and the sole support of co-writer and producer partner, Serge Bakalian.  During these years, they interviewed dozens of people all around the country, traveling to Seattle, New York, Washington D.C, Arizona, to meet defaulted student borrowers, to show their work in progress to college audiences, as well as to meet authors and experts in the student loan crisis (like author and journalist Anya Kamenetz).

Such activism also drew the attention of the national press, when Wall Street Journal journalist Mary Pilon contacted Ms Meneghello for an interview.

Gianluca Cordinaldesi,
SF Italian Culture Examiner


It is student social activism that will get our voices heard and signal to leaders that we are aware of the current educational injustice, and that we will not tolerate it.

You can start by writing to your representative by visitinghttp://house.gov/writerep or support movements on Facebook like Default: the Student Loan Documentary, which can be found athttp://facebook.com/DefaultMovie.

 Kierra Bussey, The Temple News

Call to Action! Common Knowledge Against Financial Capitalism: 24th-25th-26th of March, 2011

On March 24th, 25th and 26th, academic worker and student movements across Europe will launch three days of coordinated actions protesting cuts to education and student debt, calling for teach-ins, roundtables and occupations against banks and other financial institutions benefiting from public bailouts. Join us for a screening of Default: The Student Loan Documentary, a discussion of how these issues are playing out in North America, and open reflection on the contemporary politics of crisis and resistance within and beyond the university.

Edu-Factory Journal, Edu-Factory.org



Washington Post


I just sat down to watch the film with the ProgressiveMuckraker team. Wow great film, very eye opening. Personally I still have student loan debt 15 years out of college. I also worked for Sallie Mae for two years until they started sending their programming jobs to India to raise their stock price. In my opinion they are concerned with shareholder value, not the students.

-Chad, ProgressiveMuckracker.com


By highlighting the voices of a generation of college graduates who are struggling to pay off their student loans, Default: The Student Loan Documentary draws needed attention to the consequences for young adults of increased reliance on student loans and the importance of ensuring high quality educational experiences for those making such investments.

-Richard Arum, author of Academically Adrift:
                         Limited Learning on College Campuses

As a Professor (of Communication and Media Studies) at Fordham University in New York City, I’m naturally always concerned about students and their future well being.   But this documentary makes vivid an abuse which, while tragically all too commonplace, is way out of the ordinary in its destructive effects.

-Paul Levinson, The New New MediaInfinite Regress, Professor at Fordham University

Default: The Student Loan Documentary draws on the stories of individuals like you, expert testimony, and simply runs the raw numbers to bring that unfocused notion into crystal clarity.

This film takes the elephant in the room that has been invisible right in front of our faces, and highlights it with neon orange spraypaint. YES you are getting swindled! YES our higher educational system is broken. YES the USA is becoming a debtors prison. YES it really was easier to get a college degree and a good paying job when your parents were your age. What’s more YES there is something you can do about it!

Just as Howard Beal’s call to arms rallied a nation, Default: The Student Loan Documentary has the potential to be a flashpoint for an entire generation to organize around. It is my hope that this film it will spawn a generation-wide economic justice movement.

-Asher Platts, The Punk Patriot

I just finished watching this documentary and I think it’s very good as well as timely.  I certainly think that consumer protections need to be extended to student loans and that this ought be pursued.  But, I also believe that student loan debt is a mirror of how our nation’s economy has been run for the past few decades which basically involves inducing people to become excessively leveraged or indebted on the hopes that somehow their future will allow them to service the debt.  What actually winds up occurring is that futures are actually robbed from people forcing them into a life of debt servitude.   This is effectively what occurred with the change in bankruptcy laws and the implementation of means testing to determine debt discharge.

-Greg L, The African American Clarion Call

On Thursday, Democracy NOW had a segment on student loans with Jesse Jackson and Alan Collinge, founder of StudentLoanJustice.org and author of the new book The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History-and How We Can Fight Back.  The segment began with co-host Jaun Gonzalez presenting a few basic facts, followed by a clip from the documentary, Default: The Student Loan Documentary

This sort of massive, systemic rewriting of the rules to deprive students of financial protects, shift all power to the lending institutions, and effectively transfer vast sums of money upward is a perfect example of the workings and purpose of the conservative welfare state.

Also in the segment, Jesse Jackson lays out the argument, not just for a return to the liberal welfare state model, but for the bottom-up, social-solidarity logic of the social democratic welfare state model…
-Paul Rosenberg, Open Left


Having recently surpassed credit card debt, student debt has reached the crisis point.  With the cost of college continuing to escalate far faster than the rate of inflation and both public and private resources for financial aid drying up, students are forced to borrow more and more money for their education.  In many cases unscrupulous lenders are compounding the problem by engaging in practices that saddle people with debt for many years. DEFAULT is a timely and probing analysis of this growing national problem.

Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University professor and author of the new book,Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities


Default gives a telling glimpse into the destructive path our nation is heading down as profit continues to trump what is most beneficial to society. There is no question on the necessity of increasing access to education in order for our nation to remain competitive and productive. As this documentary illustrates, the manipulative private student loan industry does not place investing in the young people of this nation as a priority.

              –Sara Jerving is a reporter and social media writer for the Center forMedia and Democracy

DEFAULT is a desperate SOS from younger generations that have been taken advantage of, not only by predatory lenders, but also by an insatiably greedy set of the super rich, who who have since the 1980s stolen our inheritance by shifting the tax burden onto our shoulders and casting millions into what amounts to indentured servitude.

Ben Manski, attorney, organizer, activist with the Green Party, Executive Director of the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution and editor of the Liberty Tree Journal. Ben Manski, as a member of the Wisconsin Green Party, served as co-chair of the Green Party of the United States from 2001 through 2004


Default paints a dreary financial reality and features loan reform activists and industry experts weighing in on an issue that has brought degree-carrying Americans to their knees. At its core though, it’s the former students themselves talking about the struggle to pay back staggering amounts on their private student loans that carries the most weight.

               –Christopher Carter, Next Gen Journal


DEFAULT takes a tough but human look at the student loan industry and their questionable practices. This documentary is a must see for any progressive trying to comprehend the personal impact of this national plague. As the movie illustrates the ballooning debt of former students, one stands in terrified awe at an industry that, in its never-ending quest for profit, has changed the nature of American education forever. In a time of main stream media compliance with the corporate agenda, Default stands as a sincere and pivotal work from which activists should build.

-Reverend Manny, blogger, activist and author of Hustlers and the Idiot Swarm: A Working Class Rant for a Doomed Civilization

Check out the price some of these people payed for a college education. By the way, these are smart people who were literally swindled, lied to and cheated by the student loan system. This documentary exposes the business of student loans in a whole new disgusting light. Before you even think about getting a student loan, check out DEFAULT’s website.

-April Norhanian, Author, College is for Suckers 
and blogger at CollegeIsForSuckers.com


I know that student loans isn’t the sexiest topic to cover here on the FBomb, but it’s so incredibly relevant to our lives (and, yes, my life right now as a rising college freshman) that I had to bring it up. I’ve really only skimmed the surface of this problem here, and thankfully there are people who are doing really great work in raising awareness about this issue. For example, there’s been a documentary made about student loans – Default: The Student Loan Documentary.

           -Julie Zeilinger, The F-BOMB: Bad-ass Teenage Feminists


Default shines a light on how a generation of students have been badly duped by predatory finance. If America wants a good crop of young people to lead the country forward then Default provides the narrative on where education reform should start. A must see for any student or parent who wants to protect themselves from a lifetime dogged by debt.

               – Ross Ashcroft,The Renegade Economist


An eye-opening documentary into the reality of student debt. Exposes what the private student loan industry does not want you to realize… until it’s too late. This empowering analysis equips individuals with meaningful information and stimulates questions and discussion necessary to bring about change!

-Mary Polychronis, Researcher, Students’ Association of Mount Royal University


Default is an eye opening example of the fleecing of the American working class and the privatization of the nation’s commons.  The shakedown scheme laid out in this film would make Al Capone blush.  As corporate America has off shored the ability of the American middle class to exist in search of exploitable labor and non existent environmental regulations American workers have been cheated, blamed, and terrorized by the multinational profit motive.   Now the American working class and their children suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome.  Kids have watched their parents lose jobs due to outsourcing, they have watched their parents struggle and fight, separate and divorce at the hands of their corporate captors while hearing that an education will save them from the struggles of their parents….At a cost.

           –Rick Smith, The Rick Smith Show


The documentary aptly mixes a catchy tune with real human faces. The rollercoaster of excitement that comes with applying and being accepted to college is quickly followed by the gravity of predatory lending habits.DEFAULT demystifies jargon like forbearance; a practice I myself didn’t know existed. It does a good job illustrating the pain that accompanies exponentially increasing interest payments. When a few graduates described $30,000 loans that tripled, I about fell out of my seat.

The truth remains clear: we have a debtors prison, even if it isn’t one with chains and locks. Those of us with student loan debt need to out ourselves! We need to hold the President to his promises when it comes to debt forgiveness. Accessible and affordable education promotes a more just society. Right now there’s a bubble, and it’s just waiting to pop.

-Maxwell John Love, Tenacious Transparency


While I don’t have an eye for composition (Default had an attractive color scheme and looked great in Hi-Def), I can waddle through some of its arguments and points.

I think it was Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice who delineated the triumvirate of players: Lenders—Congress—Universities. He lays out how lenders influence Congress into passing student debtor-unfriendly legislation. I also liked how the history of student lending traced back to a fluke in the Great Society. I hadn’t realized that people were considering a tax credit rather than a lending program.

-Matt Leichter, Law School Tuition Bubble


The Default documentary is both encouraging and discouraging at the same time.  Every college student should watch this – better yet, every person with a student loan!

– Acecia Thomas-BakerTalk Nerdy 2 Me: A College Life Blog and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars


If college is the road to the American Dream, Default: The Student Loan Documentary shows, in clear, simple terms, that the tolls on that road are crippling. Students now enter the working world with debt so severe, they can spend their entire working lives paying it off – if they ever do. This is a serious national problem, one that threatens the health of our education system, our economy, and our country. Kudos to Aurora and Serge for creating a powerful, heartbreaking nonfiction piece. It should be required watching for all current (and future) American college students.

-Marty Lang, Writer/Director of the film, Rising Star  and the upcoming student loan film Righting Darwin


A college degree should give new graduates the wings to fly, but those graduating with student loan debt often find themselves grounded before they can even take off. Default: The Student Loan Documentary brings together personal stories of recent and not-so-recent graduates faced with massive debts multiplying uncontrollably with expert testimony on how borrowers lack the same protections granted to those with consumer, gambling, and other debts. If the stories do not shock you enough, the dollar amounts facing these borrowers will. A must-watch for anyone currently borrowing or even considering student loans.

-Heather McIntosh, DocumentarySite.com


Most students graduate college with the hopes of master programs, dreams of law school, or if they are lucky entering the work force with a job they have been studying years for. Most do not anticipate the impending student debt they’ve racked up over the course of those years of higher education.

Aurora Meneghello, Director of Default, wanted to emphasize that this issue is not just about the money.  “I wanted to make the stories human. Focus on how people can’t have relationships, get married, have children, or end up suffering from depression.” Meneghello wants to show that these statistics are real people, and don’t solely ruin people’s lives financially. She wanted to focus on “the human element and what does having your wages garnished off of $14/hr do to someone psychologically?”

-Alexa DePama, Money and Power


Journalist, Alexa DePalma has VERY kind things to say about us through video too!


Our film on Democracy NOW!


Media Coverage of Default:
Absurdist Noir
Associated Press
Advance Film
A Penny Saved
A World of Progress (1)
A World of Progress (2)
Alicia’s Dailies
All Education Matters
American Free Press
Ask Serge
Auto Straddle
Beyond Chron
Big Education
Bigger than Your Block
Black America Web
Bob the Profit
Business Association Italy America
Business Week
California Progress Report
Campus Confidential
Changemaker Network
CinemaFunk Film Reviews
Coastal Review
College is For Suckers
Colorado Daily
Colorado Public Television
Conspiracy Planet
Daily Hampshire Gazette
Dandelion Salad
Decline of the Empire
Defend Public Education
Democracy NOW!
Documentary Site
Down With Tyranny
Dystopian Present
East Bay Express
Econ Memoirs
Edu Debtors’ Union
Equality Starts Now
Fascinating Life and Times
Fast Company
Fear and Voting
Fight Back USA
Financial Aid News
Forgive Student Loan Debt (to Stimulate the Economy)
For Student Power
Future Majority
Gallagher Law Library
Green Party of Georgia
Hacking College
Huffington Post
 (on the front page!)
Huffington Post (2)
Infinite Regress
Inquiring Minds
Jason Watches Movies
Law School Transparency
Law School Tuition Bubble
Lead without Authority
League of Young Voters
Learning Central
Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project
Local to Global Justice
Maryland Intercollegiate General Assembly
Maryland Public Television
Mike and Morley
Milwaukee Public Television
Mom’s Guide to Paying for College
Money & Power
Mr. Zine
Muck Rack
Natl Assoc of Student Fin Aid & Admin
NBC 22 News WWLP
Next Gen Journal
Ninja Generation
No To Law School
NonTrad Law
OC Weekly
Open Left
Organized Labor’s View on Rising Student Debt
Parents for an Affordable UC
Perkerson Park
Phenom Online
Philadelphia Speaks
PR Watch
Progressive Review’s “Dept of Good Stuff”
-Progressive Muckraker
Pronk Palisades
Punk Patriot
Quick & the ED
Rami Magazine
Red Vic Movie House
Rense.com- “Privatizing Extortion”
Resident Planning Geek
Sacramento Progressive Alliance
Salon blog
SF 360
SF Commons TV
SF Theater Examiner

Shaping Youth
Shaping Youth (2)
SLM Trap
Solidarity Wisconsin
Student Debt Emergency
Student Intelligence
Student Loan Hangover
Student Labor Action Project
Student Loan Bubble
Student Loan Crisis
Student Loan Fundamentals
Student Loan Justice
Students United for a Free CUNY
Subprime JD
Student Loan Bubble
Sunnah Money
Tea Party Courier
Tech President
The Daily Edu
The Daily Northwestern
The Finance Reporter
The Five Year Party
The Free Press
The Gazette
The Liberal Mob
The Myth About College
The Nation 
The New Political
The Poor Paralegal
The Quick & the Ed
The Sara Schulz Show
The Scoop
The Spartan Student
The Squid List
The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS)
The Journal News
The Loop
The Thom Hartmann Program
The UK Progressive
The Woman Rebel

Township News
Two Hundred Thou

UMass- Amherst, News and Events
Under News: Where the action is 
United States Student Association
USSA/SLAP Student Debt Week of Action

Village Voice
Wade Rathke
Wall Street Journal blog
Washington Monthly
Washington Post
Watergate Summer
Will Blog for Food
Worldwide Hippies
Youth Empowered Action
Youth Media for Building Healthy Communities
Youth Radio
Youth Today

A World of Progress Radio
WOIC, Inside Politics with David Calef
KALW, San Francisco
KUSP, Santa Cruz
NPR, All Things Considered
Ring of Fire Radio with Sam Seder, Mike Papantonio, and Bobby Kennedy
The Thom Hartmann Program (Nationwide)
The Leslie Marshall Show (Nationwide)
-KKGN (Green 960) San Francisco, The Norman Goldman Show w/ Peter B. Collins
The Sara Schulz Show (1)- Madison, WI
The Sara Schulz Show (2) – Madison, WI
The Randi Rhodes Show (Nationwide), mentions on her show that she will play clips on air when it’s released.

-WIOO 97.9FM & WEOO 93.9FM, The Rick Smith Show

DEFAULT is an eye opening example of the fleecing of the American working class and the privatization of the nation’s commons.  The shakedown scheme laid out in this film would make Al Capone blush.

As fall approaches we hope to get this shown at every university across the state.

-Rick Smith, The Rick Smith Show

International Press:
Edufactory Journal

Egypt Unshackled
Scuola di Scrittura Omero (Italy)UK Progressive 

Organizations that have partnered with us for screenings and spreading the word:

-Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC)
-Americans for Healthcare
-ASU Coalition for Human Rights
Badger Impact Coalition
-Big City Improv
-Buy in, Don’t Sell Out
Byrd Center Film Series
-Cal State University, Fresno
-Calling Oregon to Reinvest in Education (CORE)
-Canada College
-Center for Economic Progress
-Center for Economic Policy & Advocacy
-Community Change for NY
CSU Students for Quality Education
-De Anza College
-Defend Our Education Coalition
-Defend Wisconsin
-Equal Justice Works
-Fleishhacker Foundation
-Forgive Student Loan Debt (to Stimulate the Economy!)
-Green Party of Georgia
Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University (Canada)
-Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law
-IWW, Kansas City
-League of Uninsured Voters
-Local to Global Justice
-Maine League of Young Voters
-M.E.Ch.A. de ASU
-MPIRG, Student PIRG
-National Community Tax Coalition
-New York Students Rising
-Northeastern University SDS
-Oakes College/ UCSC
-Occupy Charleston
Occupy El Camino Colleges
-Occupy Huntsville
-Opportunity Fund
Occupy Purdue
Portland Coalition to Defend Education (PCDE)
-Portland State CORE
-Progressive Muckraker
-Public Higher Education Network of MA (PHENOM)
-UMass Amherst Political Science Dept
-UNLV Sociology Dept
-Rise Up
-Riverside Infoshop
-San Francisco Film Society
-Solidarity Wisconsin
-Students’ Association of Mount Royal University
-Student Loan Justice
Student Progressive DANE
Students United for a FREE CUNY
-The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
-The Black Graduate Student Association
-The Roosevelt Institute at ASU
-The Underground Foundation
-UMass Dartmouth Sociology Dept
UNLV Cares
-United Students Against Sweatshops
-United States Student Association (USSA)
-United Students for Fair Trade
-United Way
-Wellesley College ACCESS Financial Fellow Program
-Young Democratic Socialists

and many more!


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