Students, Grads Rally at Sallie Mae Shareholder Meeting

Students, Grads Rally at Sallie Mae Shareholder Meeting to Urge Transparency, Reform of Student Lending

NEWARK, DE. — A coalition of college students, recent graduates and other citizens concerned about the skyrocketing cost of student loans joined Thursday in urging the corporate parent of Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, to make detailed annual disclosures of its lobbying activity.

“Through Sallie Mae, SLM Corp. has quietly spent more than $17 million since 2008 to lobby our elected officials in Washington on behalf of policies that allow it to prey on financially-strapped college students and recent grads,” said James Browning, Common Cause’s regional director for state operations. “Sallie is collecting as much as 28 percent interest on millions of dollars in student loans, in part because its lobbying muscle allows it to frustrate reform legislation.”

Common Cause activists from Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland were part of a group of students, graduates and others who converged on SLM’s annual shareholders meeting today in Newark to support a shareholder resolution demanding that Sallie Mae’s executives release detailed information about the nature and targets of their lobbying.

“More than half of all American corporations are chartered in Delaware, but something dramatic has happened since Sallie Mae moved its headquarters here in 2010 — a broad, bipartisan drive for greater transparency and greater accountability from corporations about their political expenditures,” Browning said. “Yet incredibly, while the public is demanding reform, Sallie Mae is further cloaking its political activity.”

Sallie Mae was created by an act of Congress in the 1960s to help college students obtain low-cost loans. It is now a for-profit, publicly-traded corporation holding a portfolio of more than $162 billion in student debt.