Playwright Raises Awareness About Student Debt Crisis Through Storytelling Activism

Currently, over 40 million Americans are saddled with more than $1.2 trillion of non-dischargeable student loan debt, while more than one out of five default on these loans. Students at for-profit colleges are the most vulnerable, often paying much higher tuition, leaving school with higher student debt, and more often than not, leaving without a degree.

This Fall, playwright, Aaron Calafato is taking his monologue, For Profit to high school and college classrooms all over Ohio, beginning with Baldwin Wallace University and Case Western Reserve University. His creative initiative is intended to serve as an important tool in educating, informing, and creating social dialogue around what Calafato calls, the “exploitation of the American student.” The play depicts Calafato’s experiences in “the boiler room” as an admissions representative at a for-profit college- a job he ironically took to pay off his own student loans.

According to a 2014 report from the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), Ohio ranks ranks eleventh among states with the highest student debt. When it comes to specific cities in the state with high student debt, Akron is king. According to a recent survey by Credit Karma (visualized below), the city ranks 15th in the nation among cities with the highest percentage its members with student loans.

Another recent survey by the company found that seventy-three percent of Millennials borrowed to pay for their undergraduate degree, and one in eight Millennials borrowed more than $50,000 to pay for their education. Calafato’s views on funding for higher education and student debt, echo those of countless others that are graduating with tens of thousands in student loan debt and a scarce job market.

“I’ve performed this monologue on stages at Universities, but I want to perform in classrooms to remove barriers between my storytelling and the people who would benefit from it the most — students,”  says Calafato.  

The success of his play has taken him to campuses all across the country over the past two years. For more information or join the fight with Aaron against the student debt crisis, visit

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