Sallie Mae Flew More Than 100 Employees to Hawaii to Celebrate Student Debt

The paid vacation was meant to celebrate a record $5 billion in new student loans

The Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort in Kuaui Hawaii.
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 21, 2019 9:39 am

As our nation’s collective student loan debt tops $1.6 trillion and Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren promise to address the growing crisis, more than 100 Sallie Mae executives and sales team members responded by taking a paid vacation to Hawaii to celebrate a generation’s crippling financial burdens.

As NBC reports, the company brought its employees to the luxury Fairmont resort on Wailea beach in Maui for a five-day paid getaway to celebrate a record year — $5 billion in new student loans to 374,000 borrowers. Sallie Mae CEO Ray Quinlan told the network that the trip was a “sales get-together,” adding that, “We said, ‘Hey, look, Maui is a pretty nice spot.’ And so if you wanted to stay a few days or want to bring family, that’s up to you.”

Quinlan also told NBC that the company does a similar sales trip every year and has been doing so since the 1970s. The optics of a company celebrating saddling young adults with what in some cases becomes a lifetime of debt while relaxing at a tropical resort are, as you might expect, not great. #salliemae trended on Twitter as many angry borrowers reacted to the news.

Sanders weighed in as well, tweeting “Cancel all student debt.”

Student loan debt is now reportedly the second-highest form of consumer debt, behind mortgages. More than 44 million Americans currently have student loan debt.

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