Paul Aker, a city resident, told the local Fox affiliate that he was arrested by seven marshals armed with automatic weapons last week over a $1500 federal student loan he took out in 1987 — nearly 30 years ago. Following his arrest, Aker was taken to federal court, where he was forced to sign up for a payment plan.
“It was totally mind-boggling,” Aker said. “I was wondering, why are you here? I am home, I haven’t done anything… Why are the marshals knocking on my door? It’s amazing."
According to Congressman Gene Green, who also spoke to Fox, the federal government is now using private debt collectors to go after people who have defaulted. The debt collectors then go to federal court to obtain judgements against those who have not paid up, which results in warrants being issued.
There are reportedly some 1200 to 1500 warrants out for past-due student loan defaulters.
The arrests are occurring as student loan debt has become a high-profile topic of debate, and a key point in the Democratic presidential primaries. Senator and 2016 hopeful Bernie Sanders has been leading the charge to make state college free for all.
His opponent for the nomination, Hillary Clinton, has refuted his plan, and, repeatedly using GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as a shield, states that she does not believe in paying for an education for the real estate mogul’s children. Sanders’ plan would not eliminate private universities, but would extend public education through college by imposing a new tax on Wall Street.