As a nation, we now have $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, a number growing by more than $100 billion each year. Every 28 seconds a borrower walks away from their debt, putting themselves in default and opening themselves up to debt collection and financial ruin.
In the new hour-long documentary “The Naked Truth: Debt Trap,” FUSION TV examines the state of our nation’s student loan system, and what happens to the American Dream when a generation is left buried in debt. The year-long investigation takes an in-depth look at who is cashing in on the rise in student debt, and who get hurts the most. Not surprisingly, the debt burden falls disproportionately on those most vulnerable in our country, cutting into decades of advancement for first-generation college-bound students and low income Americans─limiting their ability to buy homes, get married, have kids, and contribute to the national economy. “The Naked Truth: Debt Trap” premieres Sunday, September 10 @ 9PM on FUSION TV. Find out where to watch here.
Correspondent Ryan Nerz’s nationwide journey reveals a system in desperate need of reform─a labyrinth of federal agencies and private corporations that operate in a climate rife with confusion, missteps and abuse. From Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s quest for reform in Washington DC, to State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s efforts to crack down on a loan servicer accused of predatory practices in Washington State, “Debt Trap” explores not only the student loan industry’s controversial practices, but also those seeking to turn the system around. Viewers will hear from a whistleblower who has come forward to put a spotlight on the tactics of Navient, a student loan company operating out of Delaware accused by two states and a federal agency of profiting at the expense of borrowers. We will follow Arizona State Senator Sean Bowie, a man with his own student debt, as he seeks to tackle the problem in his home state, In addition, Nerz interviews some of the 44 million Americans impacted by the burden of student debt:
- Luis Falcon, who just received a degree at the University of Arizona, and is struggling to figure out how to pay back the overwhelming debt he accumulated.
- Nathan Hornes, a 27-year-old from Los Angeles, who was promised a free education from for profit Everest College (part of Corinthian Colleges) only to accumulate $69k in debt, and who ends up sleeping on friends’ couches because he can’t afford to pay rent.
- Shelby Hubbard, the first in her family to attend college, who can’t make ends meet years after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University and landing a full time job as a travel coordinator. A whopping $81k in student debt and incessant calls from loan collectors have her feeling like she has an anchor around her neck.
- Chicago’s Selina Leonard, who after racking up $60k in student debt and considering suicide, reached out to a third party debt relief company that ended up charging her fraudulently to help bring down her monthly payment.
“Debt Trap” is an installment of FUSION TV’s award-winning signature documentary series “The Naked Truth.” “The Naked Truth” launched in January 2016 and in its first year was recognized with a number of prestigious journalism awards including: Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award (“Death by Fentanyl”), RFK Journalism Award (“Rigged”), George Polk Award (Panama Papers), National Press Club Award (“Death by Fentanyl”), and Scripps Howard Award (“ISIS Fighters”), among others. The team was also recognized for its contributions to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Panama Papers investigation and was nominated for a 2017 News and Documentary Emmy Award for its report “The Naked Truth: Trumpland.” Adweek has called “The Naked Truth” an “Investigative Journalism Franchise for the Daily Show Generation.”
Ryan Nerz is a correspondent for FUSION TV. Since joining the network in 2013, Ryan has reported on a series of issues for the network’s signature documentary series “The Naked Truth.” His reports have included: “Frat Power,” which explored the broad influence and power of the Greek System in America; “District of Cannabis,” which took an in-depth look at the confusing and controversial state of weed in the nation’s capital; and “Numbers Game,” which examined the inadequate and outdated collection of crime statistics and how this practice skews policing and public policy. “Numbers Game” was recognized with the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) Gannett Foundation Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism. In addition, Ryan hosted a FUSION TV original series, “The Cannabusiness Report,” that explored some of the biggest questions surrounding cannabis culture and the booming industry evolving around it. Ryan is a Yale-educated journalist who has written for NPR, Esquire, and the History Channel. He is the author of MARIJUANAMERICA: One Man’s Quest to Understand America’s Dysfunctional Love Affair with Weed. He has appeared as a guest on a wide variety of media outlets, including “Good Morning America,” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Ryan currently lives in Miami, FL.