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| April 18, 2013 | 4 Comments

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My name is Catie Gutierrez and I'm 129,000.00 in federal student loan debt. My dad wanted me to take out the loans for college when I was 18. I didn't see how I could pay it all back, but I was told I had until the rest of my life to pay it back and that if I didn't have a good education from a prestigious university, I wouldn't get a good job. I went to undergrad school at the University of California in Digital Media and graduated in 2008. Then I had my first job fall apart after 3 months, when the recession began and the tech company I worked for went under. A CEO from another company bought our company out, and even the makers of the software our company sold were completely out of a job, one had just had a baby.

I continued making payments as much as I could. At that time I was probably in 90,000.00 of debt. I used Monster and Dice and everything people suggested to find another job. I felt hopeless about finding more work. It seemed that every company wanted a senior designer who had already had at least four years of experience. Knowing I wouldn't get anywhere trying to pay off that debt with minimum wage, and that everyone had a bachelors these days, I went to graduate school to go for my masters.

My masters program is nearly over and I'm in 129,000.00 of debt. I have just now been able to find a paid internship in my field. I will be starting it soon, but I'm still worried about my debt. I'm afraid I won't have money for a new car, or to pay rent or have a normal life. I imagine myself as an adult baby living with my parents and giving all my income to My Great Lakes, which is a private company that the U.S. Department of Education sold my loans to. I hope all the policies will be the same since the transfer to the new company, but I read that I have to stay on top of them to make sure.

I wonder what the point of my education was if I won't have the money to complete any other financial goals, except for paying back my loans. I considered letting my loans go into default, accepting a bad credit score, and forgetting about being a home-owner. After this experience, I don't look forward to having a mortgage either. I just don't think that education should be for the rich, or that anyone should be a debt slave in order to have "a proper education."

Catie Gutierrez, October 20, 2013, San Jose, CA

I was extremely lucky when I entered my first undergraduate program. My saint of a father offered to pay what my scholarships would not cover. My scholarships covered half, and graduated without any debt with a bachelor's degree. After I graduated I married my current husband, who was struggling to finish his degree. Due to some mistakes, he ran out of federal funding and had to quit school with $65,000 worth of debt and no degree. I could not find anything but a minimum wage job with my excellent degree from a well regarded private university. I decided to go back to school to pursue a degree that I was sure would get me a job. I had a few choices picked out, and unfortunately struggled to decide for a year on my final choice, Nursing. I'm now nearly 2 years in to nursing school with a reported 3 more to go. I've already got $50,000 in debt between private and federal loans. Partially to try to survive and partially because I didn't realize at first how crippling they can be even before I need to start paying them off. My husband and I struggle enough with his loans, and in just a few years we'll add at least $70,000 (based on my estimate) to his already established debt. We can't afford to put him back in school to get him out of a job that was never his dream, but at least it pays just enough for us to pay student loans, rent (because we can't buy a house), and food. I WISH my loans were closer to the average. I could imagine handling the average. Our loans are each 3 times the average just because life happened. On top of it all, I graduated with honors from my first university and maintain a 3.96 GPA at my current university, but can't get approved for any scholarships.

Jana, October 13, 2013, Indiana

My student debt (all federal loans) story starts in my master's degree program. Even prior to entering the program, I frequently heard that earning a master's degree would lead to a high paying position. Furthermore, I was told that being an African-American with a master's degree would make me very marketable. I heard these things from mostly from others with degrees, talking heads on TV, politicians, or students ahead of me. I took that to heart.

When I went off to graduate school, I was engaged and had a baby on the way. My fiance moved in and took a low paying job. After the baby and marriage, she eventually landed a better job, but still a low-paying position. I was a full-time student with a graduate assistantship, so housing and food was taken care of. But the baby made life expensive. So I took out maximum loans (the university did not encourage me to do so, so I can't blame them). I took out a full loan the second year. Once I graduated, I had about $35,000 in debt. No big deal; I will make enough to pay it off.

I took my first professional, master's required, job which did not pay enough to cover the loan payment. Furthermore, my wife went back to school full time. I totally supported her returning to school. Again, loans were taking out to make ends meet. I eventually started a doctoral program, where I took out more loans. We left this school and ended up in another, taking about $60,000 (me) and $15000 (her) in loans with us. I am still hearing the script (a masters degree will lead to high paying job); no worries. Well, my wife starts school again and so do I. when it is all over, there is over $200000 in debt. Her master's education and my doctorate. When we divorced, I took her loans and consolidated them with mine, so she and our child could remain in a safe neighborhood with good schools. I filed Bankruptcy but could not discharge the loans. But I said no worries, I will defer them and will get a better paying job after I earn my doctorate...that is the script.

I earn my doctorate in 2009. I do make good money now, but not enough to cover the loan payment and monthly expenses (but I am close). Granted, this is no one's fault but my own. My education programs were wonderful. My employers have been wonderful. I did not have to take my ex-wife's loan burden.

My issues are: 1) I could not discharge all or some of the loans in bankruptcy. 2)I heard politicians and educators talk about how education is the key to financial security (sure if you make loans). 3) I wish education about student loans also included education about salary prospects. If that had happened, I would not have taken so much loan money. 4) To some degree, I feel I was sold a BS story just so I could delay my entrance into the workforce to mask the poor job prospects for 20 somethings. But the reality is, if I was more saavy, I would not be here. 5) The government made it seem like loans were easy to repay because of good paying jobs for college graduates, but the government does not care that that script is mostly untrue. All the government wants is its money...with interest!

Gerald Martin, Ed.D., October 4, 2013, NJ

In no way am I one for sympathy or sob stories. I made the choices in life I made and I don't regret anything, here is my story. I attended Devry (I know, I know) at the time it was my only option, you see I didn't become empowered with myself until my third year in. I started attending in 2006 and around the time of 2008, everything went down the drain. I had a loan for every year, but started to face financial crisis due to the economy and lost my government loan. I trusted my financial advisers as they ensured me they would help me find loans, they would call me in and tell me they found me a loan and to just sign on the line. Little did I know my advisers were getting me private loans and sold me out to sallie mae, I never knew the conditions of what I was signing and if I knew what those terms are I would have NEVER signed those promissory notes. A few family members fell into bad health, so I got a job at UPS, I worked the midnight shift for 3 years. It's not an excuse, but the job hours did affect my grades. I was going as part time while I worked for 3 years. I had 20 credits to go before I reached my Bachelors and it was at that point that I started to learn about my debt total. Before signing another 15k loan, I decided to get this debt under control. I got out with a Associates degree and 87k worth of debt, after all the years of interest building for being in school part time.

I started the job hunt and man was that a depressing time. I must have sent out 100-150+ resumes for job openings every month and maybe 4-5 called back(some were scam jobs, which are a disgusting different topic). I finally resorted to just filling out jobs at common places. Finally got a job interview with an electronic retailer (Not quite the glamorous computer scientist job I was hoping for). This is honestly a job I could have gotten without a degree and the pay is far below what I would have even imagined. Sallie Mae was friendly on the phone until I told the phone operator I might have a difficulty paying this loan off on time, all of a sudden her tone changed and I became a low-life to her. She told me basically there was NOTHING I could do to ease the payment pain. No extended repayment options, Income-based repayment or reduced interest rates...

My name is Justin M. and starting October 20th 2013 I will owe $1200 dollars a month. My job monthly after taxes earns me $1300 a month. I work essentially to pay off my loan and will be doing so for 10 years.

JM, October 2, 2013

When I attended college between the years of 1984-2002, each semester/trimester/quarter the students were herded like cattle into a gigantic room where they lined up according to alphabet to collect their money. These were mostly 18 to 25 year-olds. I recently read that the brain isn't fully developed until around age 25. ;) Most of the students cared nothing about the loans that they just signed their life away to. Most of the students waiting in line were going to go blow the money on clothes, spring break vacations, alcohol, cars, stereo's, partying, etc. Most of the students didn't care to understand the ramifications of spending borrowed money like that. Kids that age live for the moment. Many of the students didn't even know where the money was coming from, or if it was free or borrowed. When you went to the financial aid office you were automatically given as much money as you qualified for. The financial aid system was far too complex for me to worry about so I let them handle it for me. Some of it came from grants, some of it came from subsidized student loans, and some of it came from unsubsidized student loans.

I have my B.S. but I became permanently disabled with over $48,000 in student loans. I went into default and they are now garnishing $168 out of my small $1000 disability checks. How sad is that? Not only that but when the loans have been transferred from one owner to another for all these years, I noticed that one loan was listed twice, therefore I am paying back money that I never received. And to try to straighten it all out is a nightmare. The paper trail is long and everyone claims to have handled the loans appropriately, yet the balance never decreased when I made the minimum payments for many years.

It's a scam, it's a problem, and it's a crime how the schools in this country give large sums of money to irresponsible and immature teenagers in college expecting them to manage the money like a responsible grown adult would. Not only that but the loans are sold and moved over and over again until the paper trail is so extensive that it can no longer be tracked and any evidence of error is gone. That leaves many students paying back money that they should not have to. I am guessing that there are millions upon millions of dollars being paid back that is undeserved and gotten by swindle or mistake, simply because the government makes it impossible to question or fight back against the student loan "system."

I laugh when I see Judge Judy question a student who is living "high on the hog" on financial aid. She thinks that it is a travesty how much money this country gives to irresponsible students. No offense, because I know that there are many responsible students, but let's get real. Look at the partying atmosphere at colleges and universities. Who do you think is paying for all that booze? Most students out there partying and going on spring break vacations are living on financial aid to some degree. Most students dress nice and must have trendy hair styles, make-up, electronics, phones, cars, and other items that cost money. Rarely do you see a student at a college wearing old outdated clothing and never will you see a student without a cell phone. Nice trendy clothes and cell phones are technically "luxuries" so why do ALL college students possess them? Shouldn't a college student be considered pretty much "poor" considering they just graduated from high school? Don't "poor" people pinch their money? Don't "poor" people shop at the Good Will for their clothes? Don't "poor" people go without IPhones? "Poor" people definitely don't go on a Spring Break vacation every year, but college students do, and they use financial aid to do it. College students are treated as if they are already educated. College students are given money as if they already have their career and the ability to pay it back. The system needs to change, and it needs drastic change.

Anonymous, September 17, 2013, WI, USA

I owe over $23K to Sallie Mae. I graduated in 2002 and by then all the jobs had been sent to India and China. I could not find a job with the degree that I had just received but was stuck with this loan. Now I am 65 and my SSI does not afford me a decent existence. How can I communicate with Sallie Mae to relieve me of this loan. I am loosing it.

Angela Bennett, September 17, 2013, USA

I am a single 57 year-old woman who went back to college when I was 48. I decided to go back to earn an education in a career that would help me fund my retirement as I spent most of my adulthood as a single parent and working as a counselor in the mental health field. I enrolled in a technical school who told me the average amount of time it took to finish the course was 2-3 years. I and fellow students found out later that the average time it takes is 5-7 years. Now, after 4 years in the program, I not only ran out of student aid to pay to finish the program, I am $65,000 in debt with Federal Student Aid loans and $15,000 in debt with private education loans and still working in the human services field getting paid $12.82 an hour. I have devoted my life to my kids and working as a care giver in the mental health field and will not even be able to support myself in retirement.

Anonymous, September 12, 2013

After hearing clarion calls for teachers, I became a career changer at 59 years old and in 2007 earned my Masters Degree in Elementary Education. Due to age and advanced degree discrimination, and now an insane corporate approach to public education that increases rather than decreases class size(proof that quality education is not the goal), closes neighborhood schools and throws hundreds/thousands of teachers into the street, I have not been able to find a full time teaching position. Rather, aside from a smattering of 2/3 month "long-term" assignments, I have been eeking out a living as a day-to-day substitute. As such, in addition to days I am not called to work, I do not have an income for 5 weeks throughout the school year, or for over 2 months in the summer. There are no paid sick days, or health care. I have a mortgage and student loans. NO WAY can I pay my student loans.

Anonymous, September 11, 2013, Chicago, IL

In my 30's after paying off my undergrad degree I returned to University to become a Chiropractor. I met another Chiropractor and married a year before I graduated. My first child was born a week after graduation. After my wife graduated we moved overseas to Australia her home. Twins came shortly after. Due to poor exchange rateand income not growing as fast as we wanted, we were unable to keep up regular payments. A fourth child arrived in 2002. A divorce, in 2005, hit hard and several years later I went into personal bankruptcy- I was unable to write of my debt. I have been living on edge, paying for my children, and unable to borrow or pay off my loans which now have hit 150,000.00. I find it absurd that I was not able to write off my loans with banckruptcy . Now age 55 I wonder if I will ever be able to pay off these debts and retire. I am incensed when I hear that the children of politicians do not have pay their loans. I would have paid off these loans if I had been able. MLL

Anonymous, September 11, 2013

I have been a teacher for 24 years. All of my service has been in the "At-Risk" schools in Louisiana and in Atlanta City. As an educator, it is law that continuing education be taken as to renew and remain a certified educator. Also with No Child Left Behind, more education had to be received to be considered Highly Qualified. On top of that, in order to receive pay increases, advance degrees are also needed but not paid for by the school systems. I had to take student loans in 1990 to get my Master’s of Education in Counseling as to be able to be promoted to that area. After that, I started to work on my doctorate in Education since to be licensed as a mental health professional, I needed 24 extra semester hours so I had to make this debt for education play in my favor so I pursued the doctorate in which I paid some out my pocket.
In 2009/10, a change was made in Georgia that to be considered for school leadership positions such as principal must possess a Specialist Degree or higher in Educational Administration. So again, I obtained that degree so I can, in hopes, be promoted.
The student loan law grants student loan forgiveness if a teacher teaches in an "At-Risk" School and/or teaches special education BUT to qualify, you can not have a student loan before 1995!
I met with Congressman Lewis of Georgia to explain my story and how UNFAIR this is since without incentives, I ALWAYS taught in "At-Risk" schools and continue to do so. I also explained that teachers are mandated to continue their education with no help of funding but to get any lucrative pay raise, an advance degree must be received!
How unfair that Veteran Teachers like me have enormous amounts of debt but I can not have any forgiven despite my commitment in "At-Risk" schools.
I want this to change by either including ALL teachers in "At-Risk" schools to be able to get forgiveness despite the year my or their student loans were received. OR: NO INTEREST on any of those teachers' or my loans!

David Marcello, September 6, 2013, Atlanta Georgia

I was told that there would be good jobs if you went to college. And my parents were poor, farmers, so I took out loans because that's what you did. With the expectation that you would pay them back. So here, years later, so in debt I feel utterly buried and already dead, I am wondering what I could have done differently...and wondering how I can ever ever dig myself out. And the answer is seemingly I can't. My amount on my grad school loan went from 45 thou to about eighty...because why not. They just added ' expenses ' in trying to collect it. And I've tried in the past to work with them to get the minimum amount lowered to a reasonable sum, as I was working at best most times, part time minimum wage, without benefits, as those seem to be the only jobs left in America. 300 to 350 a month when you make about a thousand and still have to pay rent, utilities and buy gas...leaves you about three pennies, and you still need to eat. So I was out of work for a year and took a job in China, and had to borrow to pay the visa fees, the medical exam and the ticket...and the school took its sweet time reimbursing the teachers...but...two years, I come back home and I have very little to show for my work, as once again I somehow managed to find the lowest paid teaching position ever. [ But still a job and I was working, not having to depend on anyone, saving what I could, taking care of myself. ] I am also not rich enough to get a lawyer to proceed with bankruptcy stuff...ironic and so laughable. I went to grad school in the 90's, when there was hope and real promise in the air, and good jobs out there, so everyone said. And I believed with my entire being I would get a job, that good job, maybe not my dream job as a professor but something...something that would allow me to be independent and responsible for my, myself and I. And I've always paid my bills, this is what galls the hardest. I worked any job I could find and I paid my bills. I changed adult diapers, I scooped dog poop, I was even a psychic for an afternoon. And now it's like no matter how hard I work or don't doesn't seem to make a dent. The interest piles up, the amounts keep changing, I am being scolded by strangers on my lack of financial character. And every day I think about ending it all because I can't see any end to this tunnel of filthy debt I've managed to build around myself. I'm afraid and anxious all the time, I isolate myself from everyone and I try try try to figure out what to do. I send off job applications, I try to write [ I got a playwriting degree, should have gone into meth dealing, ha ha. ] I just want some sort of end in sight. I'll never by a house or a car now, I know this with a grim certainty. I'll probably have to keep working abroad, if I can get more jobs that way or just, finally, and I think it's coming fairly soon, just give up. I have no assets to sell, I'm living again with my dad, I have nothing in reserve. I'm just lost and drowning in the dark. I don't have kids or a husband or anything like that...which is a blessing I guess. So many are so much worse off than I am. But there are so many of us...and I hear so many horror stories anymore. And then realize no one cares, no one. We're all just whispering and hoping somebody powerful listens. And they never do.

Ann, August 29, 2013, Oregon

I am also trapped in the never ending saga of student loan debt. I borrowed a total of $7,500 over a three year period from 1981-1984. I now get statements from US Dept of ED stating I owe over $30,000.00. I have paid back nearly $13,000 either through payments on my own, garnishment(1 time) or IRS refund offsets. No collection agency can provide proof of payment. No one will work with me. Over the years I have been treated like a criminal when all I want to do is get resolve or have my debt forgiven. I don't even try anymore working with collections agencies because they are all a bunch of blood-sucking, inconsiderate plebian employees. Some don't even understand the use of the English language. I have searched for legal assistance and one lawyer said "I can definitely get this resolved for you." 6 months after the fact I was out $600 and still owing a supposed $30K. I will go to my grave owing this money if something doesn't take place to help those out have made and honest attempt to re-pay. The collection agency could give a damn. I would like to know if anyone knows a good attorney who can practice in the state of Florida.

Anonymous, August 28, 2013

I am at the end of my rope. I went to undergrad and grad school, took out loans with the expectation that I would get a good-paying job and be able to pay them back. That was during the 1990's when the economy was strong and hope was high. And got hard to find any job, I began using credit cards [ always a mistake, I knew this and did it anyway, hoping I could waylay the consequences via a better job, a better job, a better job someday. ] I moved around, I had friends help me out, I did everything I could to remain employed and be able to pay my bills...until I just couldn't. I had to keep moving back home for periods of time, and oh boy, nearly just cut my wrists when it got truly heinous and unbearable and I felt like a worthless sack of dead puppies. I did everything wrong, I won't blame anyone but me for that. I didn't ask for help, I didn't tell my family how bad it was. I just tried to keep going and not be a giant burden to anyone. My grad loans were in the thirty five thou range, and with interest, started creeping and creeping up. I dutifully filled out the economic hardship paperwork, and then honestly wondered, when will I be able to pay this back? I tried asking them to lower my minimum payments-- they were at three to four hundred. And it wasn't even an option. And then after over a year being unemployed, I got hired to go teach in China...and I had to borrow money for that but it was a job. So I come back, after two years trying to save what I could on a tiny salary...and my student loan is now in the eighty thou range, they are threatening me with this, that and the other...and I feel so worthless, stupid, and so guilty for spending a dollar on shampoo that every day I think about just ending it all. I can't afford a bankruptcy, either, which doesn't help with student loans, but I am just staring at a giant wall of what now. How did it get to this? I work, when I can find a job no matter what it is...I mean like changing adult diapers and cleaning up dog poop part-time for minimum wage. And I can't seem to get out from under this financial mess. I am so out of hope and just trying to get through another day without just ending it for good. I can't go to my dad or brother for any more money help, not this. They already despise me. I despise me heartily, thoroughly and completely. I just fret that if I do kill myself my debts will transfer to my family's I try to keep going, keep looking for a job, keep to myself and not whine and cry to anyone about this whole can't pay my debts problem. There is no future for me. And there is no hope. I won't ever be debt free or free to start over. I can only sit in this darkness and perhaps make it through another day. And I know how weak that sounds...which is why I don't share this with anyone. Because I should be stronger and better than this, I should just be able to fix this all with a big warm laugh and a full checking account...but not even my imagination can stretch to that pipe dream right now.

Ann, August 28, 2013, Oregon

In 1993, my father lost his job while I was junior in college. I took student loans in order to stay in college and to keep my student job which was the only income for my family. Due to the job market conditions at the time I graduated, I decided to stay in school to complete my master's degree and continue with the student employment I had at the time. I graduated from college with about $46,000 in student loans. For the first five years after graduating, I qualified for deferments because of my low paying job (though I still made some payments). I currently owe approximately $72,000 in student loans. Even though I currently make on-time payments, only a very small portion goes to my principal. It appears I will always be making payments on these loans unless something is done to fix this situation.

Karen, August 25, 2013, Maryland

I started at a university in California in 1988. My first quarter was $254 for 12 credits. I worked as a waitress 20 - 30 hours a week, rented an apartment with some other female students. It was great. By the time I graduated the tuition doubled, but it was still affordable. Now I am back in school getting my Master's to become an acupuncturist. The program is $55,000. Luckily, i am having help with tuition and no longer need student loans. Unfortunately, i have already accrued $60,000 worth of debt.

There are two things that bother me the most. One is how the admissions people of the school portray this relaxed attitude toward student loans. I remember my first class and the teacher warned the class that we will all have second jobs not as acupuncturists. We were all mislead by the administration that the opportunities will be abundant for us. It was all a lie. I should have dropped out then and there. We all should have. It is hard to watch new students come into the program or listen to others who may run out of loan aid.

The second point I want to make is the lack of quality in the school. For example, some of the classes I have taken are so useless and it is so obvious it is just a money maker for the school. I've taken so many classes where the information is constantly repeated from previous classes. I had to take a series of practice management classes that was so useless to me. It just seems to get worse where every class seems to be a repetition of a previous course or just BS to pad the program to make the students pay, pay, pay.

I also have a third point....not only as students to we have to endure taking all these classes, but we also have to pass board exams. Board exams are not cheap. It will cost me almost $2,000 to take my national boards and another $1500 to take my California boards. Student loans also cover these costs because how else would students pay for these. My advice to anyone would be not to go to college.

Anonymous, August 24, 2013

I owe over $100,000 on my student debt. When I consolidated my loan the interest rate was at 8%. My interest rate is a mere 7.35%. I am now able to pay the minimum amount which keeps the debt from growing since the interest (capitalized interest - what does that mean anyways) keeps building. The only option is to make more money - which I finally might be able to do or I was told by the vendor (Great Lakes) take out a personal loan.

I don't have a problem paying off my debt BUT when the rules/guidelines with all of the options back in the days of pre-internet were not clear or communicated to me OR when the large banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo can receive a 0.00% - .25% on their loans and every other American can RE- consolidate their debt to a 3-4% interest rate but I can't. I now conclude that this is the same as what the housing industry/Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did to the millions of people being approved for no-doc loans. I conclude that student loans are a middle class problem while the upper class has the ability to pay of their loans and Congress is willing not to do anything - WHY because 30 Congressmen/women are multi-millionaires and are out of touch with reality. They want welfare for them and loan forgiveness for their special interest financial instituitions but not for the middle class. Anyways, it is the uneducated people who vote Republican (look at the south) while Democrats are more highly educated. Let's dummy down the majority of Americans, make it unaffordable to get a decent education and then we can control the laws in favor of the wealthy!

I DEMAND that I receive the same or a bit higher FIXED interest rate just like the banks, stop the capitalized interest and allow me to pay back my loan- not the interest that is crushing me to retire and live a decent and productive life.

anonymous, August 24, 2013, colorado

Statement of Experience: Provided to the ABA's Access to Justice for middle class, (as part of presentation). Provided to the new CFPB.

Co-founders of Citizens for an Educated and Democratic Republic

Student Loan Debt v. Fair and Equal Treatment Under the Law
A Contradiction in Terms, violating "equal treatment under the law," and violating "contradiction of law."

Peter J. O’Lalor,Ph.D.
Paula M. McKibbin, Esq.

McKibbin, Paula:

I recently took mandatory furlough time from my job as a public defender and wrote this bill with a man in New England. We had something in common – student loan debt relief that has been plaguing us for years. My debt is 18 years old. With daily cumulative interest rates and times when I’ve barely been able
to make it, the debt has increased exponentially. Two years ago I got smart. I was paying $686/month on my student loan debt. They told me that I owed $100,000 at that point, despite the fact that I had paid tens of thousands. The debt balance was more than what I had started with when I went to law school.

So I paid the monthly payments and at the end of the year asked them what I owed. They told me that it was $112,000 ($12,000 more). So, I asked them how I would ever pay off the debt. They refused to
explain this to me. I stopped making payments. About five months ago, they started garnishing my wages at the county – with no notice or right to a hearing. I received a paper from payroll when

I did some investigation that indicated I now owed $160,000+.
We never got the loan forgiveness program (as promised in my job). It was funded by the California legislature for people who work in public interest jobs, but it stopped (again) in the appropriations (funding, committee. That would have wiped out up to $10,000/year on my debt for every year I worked. My office used that as a lure to hire many of us with this problem, but has not done anything to advocate for us now.

Many are getting their wages garnished like me. I am 53 and a single mom with three young teens. We live very frugally. I had gotten into a home about eight years ago. It was not a good mortgage, but they promised that they would give me a fixed-rate mortgage (inside of the interest-only one I got) if I made by payments. I did and went back to the mortgage lender several times to find out when I would get the fixed rate mortgage. I had hoped that I would build up enough equity in the home to be able to pay off a large part of my student debt (finally), but that was not what happened. The economy went sour, and my home ended up with a negative equity to the tune of $50,000 less than the interest-only mortgage. Not only was the mortgage company unwilling to work with me, but I left the home about two months ago. My children are separated from me temporarily, our dogs are with ex-neighbors. The home is empty, but they got me out by telling me that it was going to be sold. We had eight days to move.

Over the years, I have been unemployed at times, living paycheck to paycheck. Even when I graduated from school, I couldn’t find work as a lawyer anywhere. We had two employers interview the entire graduating class. Nobody was hiring. We moved and spent thousands of dollars trying to find a job in the field, to no avail. Then I had children later in life and had to worry about childcare. I have no family around me to help out. My ex-husband and I divorced. It has been very difficult.

We are asking that everyone see this bill, share it with as many people as they can and everyone inform their legislators that we would like them to sponsor this bill. We are going to persevere until we get results. We have nothing to lose. The student loan creditors refuse to work with anyone. They will give forbearance, but the interest continues to accumulate. They will not work out any deals. Even the IRS will do that! They will only discharge debt if someone dies or is so gravely disabled that they have no
chance of ever working again. The co-author of this bill is on disability, and they are garnishing his disability checks. Some people have committed suicide and checked out of society because of this form of involuntary servitude. Is it any wonder that the student loan creditors are making multi-millions every year? Is it any wonder that no legislator has yet been willing to sponsor us, when it’s a known fact that the creditors are making substantial donations to their campaigns?

Thanks to ex-President Bush, we have no bankruptcy rights and protections, no consumer protection, etc. We are asking for these rights to be reinstated. We are also asking for an expansion of student loan forgiveness programs (public and private) with tax incentives. Finally, we are asking for 2% flat rate interest on student loans.

Please help us by spreading the word and letting people know that they can get additional copies of the bill, PRESENTED BY CEDR FOR LEGISLATIVE SPONSORSHIP, by going to
Thank you,
Paula McKibbin, Esq.

O'Lalor, Peter
After graduating college in 1992 with honors and being accepted to Harvard, I began my summer
working at a MH facility. Two months later I was incapacitated with a spinal injury which happened at work.
I took a patient out of harms way and the people who I found abusing her, got me instead. I received a
forearm laterally to the base of my neck when I was facing the patient. More than 50% of my body was in
excruciating pain, with constant involuntary movements from my face to my toes. The muscles retracted to
the point where I thought my bones were going to break. I was soon homeless, and receiving no treatment
but finally won my worker's compensation case, got a pittance of compensation and acupuncture 3 times
a week for 6 months. It is because of acupuncture I am not crippled.

I crawled my way back from excruciating pain, disability, and homelessness five years later. I got into
law school and because I had defaulted they would not reinstate my loans. In no uncertain terms I was
told "you should have had someone call us." The pain was unbearable, being homeless, and taking my
own life was a choice everyday I had to say no to. I could not continue law school. I've never recovered,
every day is surviving when I could have been a contributing member of society and its economy.
For the first time in a decade I got a bill from the DOE stating my principal balance of $17,467.35 and
an accrued interest of $13,390.89. They show a payment of $184 towards a balance now of $31,390.89! It
is now @ 38,000 with one agency.

Every year they take my tax refund. For example: 2007 and 6 my AGI was $8,000 and my refund was
over $900. The DOE confiscates it. This year's Economic stimulus - on top of my refund - was
confiscated. ONE PAYMENT OF $184? This has been going on for ten years. Where has the money
gone? I've paid thousands of dollars!

Citizens (student loan debtors) are guaranteed by the federal Constitution of fair and equal treatment
under the law. Because student loan debtors have had the right of bankruptcy denied them there exists a
practice and pattern of discrimination.

Presently, as stressors, injury and sickness, assail me, I am on disability and my $17,000.oo loan is now over $90,000.oo THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN, LIKE SO MANY OTHERS.
Peter O’Lalor

Peter O'Lalor, Ph.D., August 23, 2013, Boston, MA

I am now 29, married, and have 2 beautiful boys. When I went to college I was, and still to this day, am a first-generation college student and graduate. We all have stories of struggle in childhood and growing up, so I'll get to the point. I knew I wanted to go to college. Right of of college, I had a full-time job with benefits- so lucky! This was in 2006 with a BA. After some time, I decided to go back to college for a career change and earn my M.Ed. Working full-time and with a young son, I earned my M.Ed. in 18 months. My whole college career was paid for by student loans- I am in over $100,000 of student loan debt! I have a home, a family, and years after earning and working so hard for my education and career, I am still making less than $30,000 a year. I can't afford to pay my loans and have deferred them in any way I can. What's crazy too, is that the debt I have incurred for myself is somehow now my husband's burden to carry as well? Why is it fair that my payments be calculated on both of our incomes? How am I supposed to live the "American Dream" with this much debt- I have experience, education, but not the money to pay back my debt? It's sickening to know I am a slave to this debt...and so many more are too and will be. It's a mess and a trap...I will NEVER be able to pay back my debt, and should I not, my whole family and life will suffer. We are suffering now. I got paid today and my check is already gone- how will I buy clothes for my boys? School supplies? Take them on vacations? I don't know...

CK, August 23, 2013, Ohio

Ahhhh the dream of going to College and chasing your dreams... It's wonderful isn't it? Yeah right, what a load of crap. I had a dream, still have a dream despite the massive debt hanging over my head. I have always wanted to be a writer. More than anything else in the world. It's my passion, my muse, my life's work. So, I decided to chase that dream and go to college. I figured, I'll get a Bachelors degree and then I'll move to LA, get a part time job so I can focus on my writing and eventually, I'll get noticed by someone. Sounds like a lot of dreams out there doesn't it? Well, I started going to school, and I loved it. It was such an amazing experience. I learned so much. I kept a 3.5 GPA OR higher the entire time I was there. Then Senior year came. The promise of everything I had ever wanted was so close that I could taste it. I was ecstatic. Every assignment I had, I put every ounce of myself into it. School consumed my life and I took pride in my work. One day I got a call from my Financial Aid advisor, she tells me that there is a slight hick up in my finances. Apparently, I "ran out of financial aid" and in order to finish my senior year I would need to pay the last 15 thousand dollars, either out of pocket, or with private student loans. I told the woman, "I have no credit, I wont get approved for loans." She suggested that I get a job to pay for it. I told her that I already had a job and I needed my money to live. Two weeks later I was kicked out of school. I'm only a semester away from getting my Bachelors degree and I have no way to finish. I've applied for private loans, but with over 70 grand in debt from federal student loans already, none of them will touch it. I've had to file bankruptcy, and I lost my car. Now, I have almost 80 thousand dollars in student loan debt with not a single thing to show for it. Because I owe the school money now, they wont release my credits so its not as if I can go somewhere else to finish my degree. So now, I'll never have the credit to finance a home, or a car, or anything. I don't even have a degree to show for my troubles. Ill be stuck with this debt my entire life, it will never get paid off and I'll be forced to barely survive because if I don't pay them off willingly they will just take my money from me, for nothing. I have nothing to show for this. The Government wonders why our economy is so bad, take a good luck America, I'm a shining example. College didn't help me achieve by dreams. It ruined my life.

Otis Carlisle, August 22, 2013, Memphis, tn.

I am 26 years old. I work as a composition instructor at a well-respected state university. I earn less than $30,000 a year. I am $83,000 in debt.

The oft-recited argument I hear in response to stories like mine is this: You knowingly signed up for that much debt. You made your bed-- now you have to lie in it.

But I feel like it's time for all of us to re-examine the "knowingly" part of this argument. Most of my debt was accrued as an undergraduate. For my first year of college, I received several scholarships. I paid a total of $7000 that year with $2624 taken out in loans. To my family's surprise, late in the summer before my sophomore year we received a bill of $11000 for the fall semester. We thought that this must surely be a mistake. We called the Bursar's office to be sure. Apparently the "scholarship" I received was only for my first year, a detail that my financial adviser had failed to mention to us. In retrospect, I should have withdrawn my enrollment then and there. However, after a year of school, the decision was too wrought with sentiment. I'd fallen in love with the place. I made it through my freshman year with all A's, several close friends, and lots of great memories. It was too late in the summer to transfer to another school. So rather than file a complaint, my family and I rationalized. We chalked it up to our mistake, and I signed up for $15774 in loans. The next year tuition was hiked up $3000. I took out $16530. It hiked up $5000 my senior year. I took out $19500.

When I started out as a freshman, I certainly did not intend to take out $15,000 per year. But a combination of some unethical business practices on the part of the college and spikes in tuition landed me nearly $60,000 in the hole. I, like many of my peers, took the online loan counseling modules before taking out loans my freshman year (which, by the way, a monkey could pass because they all but highlight the answers in red). I "knew" what I was getting myself into, but I didn't understand. In the words of a college student interviewed for a recent npr article:

"College students aren't the most financially literate people. They see a bill, and they just think about how they're going to pay it, and it's something that they can kind of slip under the table and not necessarily face the consequences right away. It's just something that they can kind of kick down the road."

Here's a list of some of my top concerns as a nineteen year old signing up for $15,000 dollars in debt my sophomore year: whether I would have to sign up for an 8:00 A.M. class, whether I would make all A's that year, whether I would be eligible to become a tutor in the writing center, whether I would finally get a boyfriend, whether the zit on my cheek would go away, whether I would be able to buy the $60 dress from Benetton before homecoming...

Get the picture? I was no where even close to the realm of having the emotional maturity to make the decision to go into $15,000 dollars in debt, and neither are most 18 year olds. You doubt? Go outside. Right now. Go outside and hunt down a couple of the skinny-jeans wearing / polo-shirt clad hipster freshman that are heading for college this year. Ask them what interest rates are. Give them a calculator and ask them to apply a 6.8% rate to a $7,000 loan over the course of ten years. Hell, ask them how credit cards work. You might be surprised (confession: at 19, I had zero clue what the difference was between a credit card and a debit card).

This kids ARE NOT knowingly signing up for debt. Most have them have never had to pay a bill. Many of them have never held a job. They are in no way emotionally or intellectually prepared to make that decision. Yet, every year, thousands of kids across the country do. And their cosigning parents give their stamp of approval because they are still under the impression that a "good education" and solid employment prospects equal time and money spent on a four-year college. It most certainly does not.

The story of how I got myself into 27,000 more dollars of debt by going to graduate school reeks of similar ignorance on my part and misinformation/willful blindness on the part of the administration. But that's for another day. For now, I'll just say this-- I wouldn't be in my current state of meager employment if I had not earned my master's degree.

I don't know if I will ever be able to crawl out of the whole I've dug myself in. I am a young, single woman living on one income. The likelihood that I'll ever be part of a two-income family is slim because I work all the time and have zero money to invest in a social life (restaurants and cocktails? I can't even begin to describe how I can't afford that...).

Here's what I can do-- I can try to educate the next generation of college students to make smarter choices. In my composition classroom, I have students read and analyze articles on the student debt crisis. I ask them to reflect, in writing, what their goals are for getting the most out of the investment they're making in their educations. I urge them to make an appointment with career services to figure out the average annual income of their intended profession. I ask them to consider the likelihood that they might pursue a different profession in the future. In short, I try my best to make sure these kids don't just know but UNDERSTAND what they're getting themselves into every time they sign a loan document.

I'm wearily optimistic that all of my efforts will actually amount to anything. What these kids really needed was a good practical economics class in their junior year of high school. But I'm desperate to devote my time to something other that worrying about how I'm going to survive.. well... the rest of my life. If I think about it too hard, I get depressed. If I'm not careful, I find myself flirting with possibilities for "opting out." In the end, I could never do that to my family, but it's hard not to look into the future and see nothing but stress and penny-pinching and loneliness and despair.

I don't want that life more my students. They deserve better than that. And I'm going to work my hardest to help them get it.

Seville, August 17, 2013, Baton Rouge, LA

Hi My name is Lauren (Hi Lauren) and I am a slave to society.

The wonderful life of high school (oh how I wish I could go back) No debt, no bills, no real responsibilities. The only responsibilities we encounter are making sure we are getting good grades for college, start thinking about what college you want to go to. At least I was smart enough to go to a community college for my general education and after two years I transferred to a 4 year. Once I transferred I declared my major (what a commitment that was) as a Kinesiology with an emphasis in teaching. My friends made teaching appealing for all the wrong reasons holiday breaks and getting paid to have summers. off. Sure why not sign up , so I graduated in 2008 with my degree and next step was the teacher credential program. The only way to afford it was student loans, well being under the age of 25 they looked at my parents income and decided they made too much , So I had to go with a private loan . Not looking at my statement for few years just treating it like another bill paying the minimum of 275.15 a month and hoping one day it will disappear before I do. One day I looked at the statement and realized of that 275.15 about 190 dollars was getting paid towards the interest and only about 80 was getting paid towards the principal. Over 6 years of paying the minimum I paid over 13000 dollars but only 2500 went towards the principal. Not only that people are always telling me to look at the light, I have a college degree. Yes that is all fine and dandy but in the economic state we are in , people with Masters and P.H.D. are stuck working at low paid part time jobs. In a sense college is over rated these days, That little paper cost me over 20,000 and now I am working two part time jobs , living at home and paying bills.

Thank you for reading

Lauren, August 16, 2013

I consider myself a success story for our generation. I am 32, a physical therapist, and I still owe $150,000. I have been out of school for 6 years and make almost $75k/year. I can't make any less than that because my student loan payments are over $1200 a month. Why am I a success story? I actually was able to buy a house with my wife! (with the majority of the 20% down payment coming from family, of course) My father did the math. After school, in order to save for a down payment, my wife and I with our student loan payments, and assuming a 3% increase in pay every year (if we are lucky), and being absolutely perfect with saving (assuming no emergencies, no kids, no nothing) we wouldn't have the down payment until WE WERE 45!!!

Look around. How many 20-30 somethings do you know that actually own a house???? Why is all established families with kids in their early teens and old folks in these homes? Why are there still tons of houses on the market??? No body can afford to buy because so much income goes to paying off student loans. Next bubble here we come!!!

Anonymous, August 15, 2013

Hello. I am Elizabeth Linnan, and I am coming out about my student debt. I owe over $50,000.00, most due to the fact that interest has piled up.
I have been going job to job have income. I am a single Mother. I reside with my parents because I, financially, can not live on my own.
I have gone from forebearance to forebearance because I simply can NOT afford payments.
Moving from the area in which I live is not option due to financial reasons as well.
I feel stuck. And that I will always have something hanging over my head.

Elizabeth, August 14, 2013, Clarion, PA

In the fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Ramacier, picked me to teach a lesson on Minnesota history to the class. I remember it because it was the first time I actually thought about becoming a teacher. After the lesson I was pretty sure that’s what I wanted to do, if I didn’t become a movie star or professional athlete of course. As I grew up and realized professional sports were out of the question, and Hollywood wasn’t looking to promising either it just seemed natural to focus on becoming a teacher. I had it all figured out: go to college to get credentialed and then teach and coach at my alma mater. It seemed like a great plan. Step one: college.
For as long as I can remember my parents placed a premium on education. They, like so many others, saw it as the way to improve the family’s material reality that is to say education was the way we wouldn’t be broke anymore. To make sure we were properly prepared my parents put their money where their mouth is and sent me and my brothers to DeLaSalle high school. They sacrificed so much in order to pay that monthly tuition. I knew that education was important and that I needed to go to college, what I didn’t understand was just how vicious the economy of higher education truly was.
My parents assumed that De would prepare me for all aspects of college, including how to pay for it. What they didn’t know was that families like ours needed to be much more proactive about paying for college. DeLaSalle is not tailored for working class first generation college students: I graduated DeLaSalle without knowing what FAFSA was. I am sure the guidance office had this information, and I am not saying I shouldn’t have been more tuned in, I should have been, but the fact remains De was not worried about whether or not I could pay for college. This inattention combined with my desire to be a college athlete, and a culture that promoted four year universities left me diametrically opposed to anything but a four year school. So, I ended up at Hamline University playing ball and studying to become a teacher. As far as I knew everything was in order. I would have to take out loans but who didn’t?
When I told people I was going to Hamline nobody ever questioned it or how I would pay for it. Everybody congratulated me and was quick to tell me how good of a school it was. Everybody assumed I would take out loans, it was just a given. I was told student loan debt was the best kind of debt to have because it showed “you were serious about your future.” Nobody even took the time to explain the difference between federal and private loans. So, every semester I went to the financial aid office and got my package, nobody there explained the difference between federal and private loans or asked me what my career plan was to ensure I would ever be able to pay off the debt. As a result I graduated with 35k plus in private student loan debt while still being eligible for 25k worth of federal loans! It seems it was not as simple as just going to college and getting credentialed.
Today, my total student loan debt is over 135,000 dollars with over 70,000 of that coming from private student loans. Unlike federal loans there is no assistance with private loans, there is no consolidation, there is no income based repayment, nothing; they cannot even be discharged in bankruptcy. The only option the company that owns my private student loans, SLFC, offered was for me to pay 250$ a month for two years. However, this wouldn’t even cover the interest that accumulates and the remainder would be capitalized quarterly. To make matters worse after those two years I would then have to pay the regularly scheduled amount which would be higher in order to adjust for the capitalized interest. For several months I participated in this program only to see my principal balance continue to grow; when I approached SLFC to try and work something out they told me my only option was to pay close to 700$ a month. It just didn’t make sense to continue paying money to watch my debt grow. Something is wrong with this.
While student loans have been a part of the national dialogue it has, inexplicably, been limited to federal student loan interest rates. Fundamentally we need to begin to shift the conversation. As a country we can no longer tolerate capitalisms insatiable thirst for commodity, education must be off limits! As an adult, I look back at my journey to this insurmountable debt and see I was destined for this from the jump. Higher education provides the perfect environment for capitalists to squeeze out profit. As manufacturing jobs fled this country, due to offshoring, higher education became even more crucial than it was. Millions of young people, due to America’s deindustrialization, began being funneled to colleges and Universities as the BA became the new high school diploma. Banks seized on this rush, taking full advantage of the increased market, and commodified access to the education. Now, higher ed is among the biggest of big business. Skyrocketing tuition combined with reduced funding has left millions in need of financing their education through private banks. Of course, this will disproportionately affect working class and poor families because, like my family, we don’t know the game and are so desperate to change the economic circumstances of our families that we will do anything to get where we need to go. A college education is often times the only legal route presented to us. So, we gladly play the student loan game and pray that the “investment” pays off. Sadly, for a lot of us it won’t. Today, I owe roughly 100% more than I took out in loans. Yup, that’s right, I owe double! It is true that I will make more money than my parents, and I will make more money than I would have if I had not gone to college, but I will also owe considerably more! This money will not go to building the wealth of my family, it will not go to improving our quality of life, no, it will go to the 1%. It will go to the banks that never have to wonder if student loans will pay off for them, these loans are fully guaranteed by the government; no matter what I do SLFC will get its money, they take no risk! They are making profit from the hopes and dreams of the working poor for a better life. This is different than consumer loans because our life chances are tied to them. There are no factories or mines to go work in if you cannot pay for college or do not want to be an academic or intellectual. College, in this world, is a necessity.
I am doing what I set out to do, teach, and I love it. But now I no longer see my education as a way to get credentialed. I have no desire to coach or do anything at De. Today, I want to use my education to fundamentally change the relationship of my community to resources and power. Today, I want to forment revolution and believe knowledge is key to that struggle. It is sad that knowledge has been held hostage by institutions which are increasingly wedded to capitalist money making endeavors. Education is a human right. It is time for the Unites States to realize that by investing in education we are investing in ourselves and our future. In order to do this, however, we must break from the deeply engrained thought patterns of capitalism which teaches us we must “get ours” at any expense. We all do better when we all do better.
This may seem like a utopian dream but it is far from it. The United States could easily bail out its students and make higher ed universal. In fact, our future depends on us doing just that. We are facing a crisis that requires all of us contributing our various skills and talents to solve. The environment is deteriorating at un-before seen rates, we have more people in prison than any place on the planet, we are working harder and longer and are less happy and more depressed because of it. The good news is if we alleviate the burden of school debt we will be in a better position to nurture the creativity and imagination of those folks who are currently working in jobs simply to pay the bills regardless if they are passionate or not. Perhaps we can then begin to think about how to put people to work on renewable energy and living wages and create a vibrant sustainable world for future generations. At the very least private loans should be dealt with similarly to federal loans. My federal loan debt, while large, is very manageable, I am on income based repayment and pay a reasonable amount faithfully every month. This stands in stark contrast to the situation with private loans where they are demanding I choose between my life and my loan.
As for me and my plan, I am a high school teacher. I will never be rich. Yet, I believe that I am contributing to society. I believe that I deserve to have a family and to live in peace and happiness. I believe that I should not have to choose between starting a family and paying my private student loans. So, I will continue to tell SLFC that I cannot afford to pay what amounts to a second mortgage. They will continue to chastise me and my father (my cosigner) implying that we are irresponsible freeloaders. They will remind me that “I did not have to go to college” and that I need to pay. They will do all this while refusing to make it possible for me to live my life and pay off my loan. So I will default in my payment and live my life and it will be worth it. I will make up every morning and put my efforts into improving the world for the young people that come into my classroom and my own future children. I will be healthy and happy and free.

Ryan Williams-Virden, August 13, 2013, Minneapolis

I had a stroke At age 35 while contemplating Divorce I went back to school to finish my degree so I could support myself & 2 children. I was denied loan forgiveness for the 1st student loan I got before marriage,stroke and divorce because I stupidly took out another student loan after disability occurred,which has nothing to do with being permanently disabled.

Caren Hall, August 12, 2013, Brooklyn, NY

In the fall spring of 2009 I decided to attend Law School after graduating from Loyola University Chicago. At the time I knew the financial burden of borrowing roughly $100,000 in student loans would be difficult. However, I rationalized my decision by assuming I would be able to find a well paying job as an attorney. Unfortunately, I found my heart was in the non-profit section and upon graduating from law school I found a absolutely fantastic job at Starfire Council of Greater Cincinnati. The only problem is my entire yearly salary was not enough to cover my yearly student loan bills. I am able to live thanks to government programs like Income Based Repayments, but I still struggle monthly to get by. While I'm sure there are items I could cut from my budget, I try very intentionally to live simply, many times skipping lunch in order to save money. I do not blame anyone for putting me in this situation. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, I simply did not count on finding a passion outside of a career in law. I cannot thank my parents, friends, and political leaders fighting for programs like AmeriCorps and Income Based Repayments... without this support I would be incapable of paying my monthly bills. Yet, even with this support at times the worry and stress is paralyzing. I become so overwhelmed that I literally fear to look at my checking account balance. What scares me the most is that due to my student loan debt I cannot save money for retirement and I have no emergency money in my savings account. I am not asking that my debt be forgiven entirely. I simply hope that my story inspires our political leaders to realize the intensity of student loan debt... it is crippling. We need to reform the current system so that future graduates do not start their adult lives with enormous debt. This is not about me. I chose my path and I will live with the consequences without blaming others. This is about saving the financial lives of future graduates.

Andrew Greiwe, August 7, 2013, Cincinnati Ohio

PLEASE take a moment to read about a very serious issue I am currently encountering with no means of a resolution! I am sure I am one in a million, but I am writing with hopes that someone will hear my cry and my children and I will not have to face homelessness.

I am a single (divorced) mother of 3 children (7,19,21), all which reside with me. I am the head of my household providing rent, utilities, car note, insurance, and all the basic necessities of life that I can afford. Today, I am devastated. I am faced with a wage garnishment by the US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, to begin June 2013 on my teacher salary, despite my resolution of several Request for Hearings and US Department of Education Financial Disclosure documenting that garnishing my wages would leave me in unlivable, undue financial hardship.

I had a dream as a young teen (18) to attend college. Get a good paying job, marry and live the American Dream. I attended the UW-Whitewater from 1983-1988, in which time I graduated. I received 3 loans for the years of 1983-1988 which include: National Direct Student Loan $2,235.00; Guaranteed Student Loan $8007.00; and Guaranteed Student Loan $490.00, which totals $10,732.00. I have made payments on these loans beginning in 1989, first to UNIPAC then consolidated with SallieMae Student Loan Marketing Association. DESPITE ANY AND ALL PAYMENTS from 1989 to the present year 2013, the amount never decreased and only grew on this loan to a devastating 400% today and is $45,388.49 per US Department of Education.

I have been trying for many years for the responsible parties that held the loan to give me the lifetime payment record of this loan and provide me with the correct balance/amount owed and NO ONE has been able to provide that information to me. Since 1989, the parties responsible for once holding this loan are follows: UNIPAC, SallieMae Student Loan Marketing Association, Payco-Great Lakes Higher Education, US Department of Education- Windham Professionals. I was told that the increase in this loan has obviously come from the 4 different sales from one company to the next with each adding variable interest fees and 25% collection fees. Unfortunately, I have not seen the deduction of any payments from 1989-present.

The total amount due on the original loan amount of $10,732.00, IMPOSSIBLY including all of my lifetime payments has rocketed to $45,388.49. I have documentation of most of my payments. The first documentation is with UNIPAC beginning in 1989-1992. Also, Most recently, In 2008 US DEPT OF EDUCATION RECEIVED ALL OF MY INCOME TAX RETURN including my stimulus payment of 1200.00. TOTAL AMOUNT PAID TO US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IN ALL FOR 2008 was $7,168.90. I then made $25 payment May-June-July-Aug of 2008. I received a letter for Payment agreement of $50 a month from US DEPT of ED to begin Sept 2008. Payments were made each month except during disability/fmla, in which I notified them only to be degraded and spoken to rudely.
From 2009 to 2013, I have made $50 payments to US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. During this time, I still tried to deal with the fact that I did not owe the amount shown and
I insisted on proof of the amounts I had previously paid on the lifetime of the loan and the lump sum payment of income tax. I have been trying to speak with someone for over a year on this issue, to no avail.

I have always been willing to pay what I could afford, but feel that I am due an explanation as to the correct amount owed and where the lifetime payments have been deducted. I would like a lifetime payment record. I would like the deductions shown from those payments. I would like the amounts to be adjusted to reflect the correct balance owed, if any.

I am an educator of 8 years with 6 years service. I am a highly qualified teacher. It is my hearts desire to teach and inspire young children to reach their dreams through education first. It is extremely difficult for me to provide my own children with the necessities of life including healthcare, education, home ownership or myself with a descent retirement. My 19 and 21 year-old children are currently uninsured. I am an educator and cannot afford to cover my family at $300+ per pay period. My 19 year old daughter wants to attend nursing school and I have to tell her with tears in my eyes that we are unable to afford for her to attend and loans right now are just TOO MUCH! I do not own a home because when the market was good, it was unaffordable and now that it is affordable the banks make it very difficult. I cannot afford to save for retirement at this time. I cannot afford the MOST IMPORTANT VALUABLE THINGS IN LIFE, yet I am a full-time working single mother of three.
This is surreal. My life is being turned upside down and no one can help saying it’s the government. My livelihood is being striped right in front of me and there is nothing I can do. I have contacted attorney after attorney only to be told, “that’s the government”, “you would have to file a lawsuit in the federal district court and that would cost you $10,000+”. The only option I am left with according to an attorney is bankruptcy to stop the wage garnishment, however, I am still left with dealing with the overwhelming issue of this 25 year old student loan issue ALONE. I DO NOT OWE THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY ON THIS STUDENT LOAN BUT NO ONE CAN HELP ME GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT.

I am an educator by heart, working everyday, full-time and I have a difficult time meeting the basic needs of life. NOW, the Dept. of Education wants to take 15% of my net to begin when I return to work Aug 12, 2013. I have explained to them that if they do this, my children and I will be on the street with nowhere to live. It’s very sad that NO ONE CARES. I tried to call US DEPT OF ED again and was told to resubmit YET ANOTHER hearing request and financial disclosure (which makes that number 4 in one year). Their final word to me was: “BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE GARNISHMENT” because it is going to happen and continue until they review the forms again.
Please hear my cry! Help me find a way to determine how to STOP them from forcing my family and I into homelessness! Me losing my vehicle to get us back and forth to work and school! Help me find the TRUE balance of this loan! Help me find a reasonable monthly payment, if an amount remains due! Help me find an end to this death sentence!
Arnetta, August 6, 2013, Jacksonville, FL

Anonymous, August 7, 2013

I see story after story published about student loan debt and many ignorant people commenting saying 'well, you signed for the loan you idiot, now pay for it. It's not the public's problem.'. Well, yes, this is true. But what the public doesn't know.. is me. I started school in 2007 at the age of 27 in the midst of my divorce. My now ex-husband had cut me off financially and I was working part-time in the medical field. I was able to find work full time again at decent pay but it surely wasn't enough to support myself, a home, my then toddler daughter, and of course all the expenses of living. So, I decided to go back to school to obtain my Associates Degree in Business. This is not a 'junk' degree that cannot be used anywhere. As a matter of fact, it helped put me in a mid-level management position, for which I am grateful. However, my degree cost almost $24,000, and with deferring it a few years I am at almost $28,000 now. I did not know at the time there were scholarships for adults so I did not have the chance to apply for any and my employer only offered $500 in tuition reimbursement. I did not immediately go for my Bachelor's degree because I was terrified of the payments that were looming for the loans. Recently however, having been passed up for higher paying and better job opportunities because I did not have my Bachelor's degree, I knew I had to continue on with my education, so I re-enrolled. My Bachelor's Degree will cost me another $20,000+. I have looked at the payment plans and I am sick thinking about how I am going to afford them when I am through with school. I am wondering if the increase in pay at work will be worth the added costs associated with the student loans. Yes, I have applied for every scholarship I could, and might I add here, there are not the 'billions of dollars available' that is put out to the public every day. I am very computer savvy so I know how to search the internet, and unless you are exremely poor, have suffered an unbearable life, or are building up a third world country, there just aren't that many opportunities out there. Most scholarships are also school specific. Plus, on an average income, I don't qualify for any FAFSA grants. They even take into account child support I receive but don't subtract out daycare expenses.I have been awarded $3000 in scholarships this year which I am proud of, but that will barely make a dent in my debt. The bottom line is, I'm working hard, taking care of a child, a home, and now constantly scouring the internet for additional scholarships or grants. I'm not trying to take advantage of 'the system'. I do however question the government lending and wonder why there are interest rates on student loans in the first place. I have been denied personal loans and car loans because my debt to income ratio is too high. There is no way I'm going to be able to pay the standard payment plan so I'm going to have to take an extended option which means I'm going to have this problem for years to come...and when you look at the final payment (including all the interest paid), it is disgusting what the student loan repayment total is. If interest has to be charged at all, it should be limited to 1% and schools. Schools should also be limited on what they can charge per credit hour.

Kelly, August 6, 2013, Perry, Oh

I'm one of four siblings (two of us have graduated) so my story is only one part of a larger ... ongoing saga.

I'm $100K in student loan debt after graduating with my BS in Fashion Design from Drexel University in 2010. I come from a divorced family that is faking it to try and fit in with the middle class. My father walked out of our lives when I was at 14 years old (I'm the oldest -- my brother was two years old at the time). My sisters and I were emancipated from him, each upon graduating high school, per his request. He only wants to see our brother. My mother has no assets - no house or even a credit card, but I was able to get some financial aid and loans and was the only one of my siblings to secure a parent plus loans. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what the interest rate is like on those. I had to fight each semester to get a loan and stay in school. I did, I even made it to London on student loans for a study abroad program.

Now, however, I am living paycheck-to-paycheck. I pay almost $900 a month in loan debt (and that's with only paying interest on the private one) and I make $40,000 per year. I go to crazy lengths to find cheap ways to live within my means in New York City. Just moving to the city took me nearly two years, I had to commute from Philadelphia to New York City daily for a year because it was more expensive to move there. My youngest sister has spent the summer trying and failing to even get a loan. She's a rising junior and is constantly worried about being forced to drop out. Neither my mother, sister nor I can help her because of the loan debt we've accrued.

I am fighting my hardest to follow my dream, as this country still promotes that as something we should all aspire to, but this insane student loan debt just seems to push back harder.

Anonymous, August 6, 2013

I went to Law School in the early 90's for almost 3 years, but I did not graduate. I borrowed about 35K, thinking I'd be making plenty of money to pay it back. With fees, interest, penalties, and capitalization combined with forbearances and deferments, the loan started to spiral out of control. I applied to get it consolidated at William D. Ford, who then sold it to EdFinancial. The payoff, today, is around 175K and is going up almost 10K a year. I am trying to get my VA disability and maybe work part-time. They'll take anything I make, so why work? I haven't worked or paid taxes in 12 years. I'm tired of flying under the radar and never being able to have anything. If the loan gets discharged for my disability, I find that I will owe taxes on the amount discharged because it is considered income. This is SHOCKING! If ICR plans can take from SS, SSD, SSI, and VA payments, then tax you on what's forgiven AS INCOME, then this is just one more example of preying on the poor. The problem surely seems insurmountable. I should have started my own business by now or at least work for someone and make a little money. Can't get married either, because spouse will also be liable for my loan. If I just had a RAY OF HOPE, I believe I could make a decent contribution to business and society, not to mention supporting myself, instead of being on food stamps and living off my brother and the government. I want my self-respect back!

Amanda Brown, July 29, 2013, Wilson, NC

Like many others ,my student loan story starts out with good intentions and ends in default hell.
In 1982 I was broke and working several jobs . After seeing an advertisement for a training school I signed up no money needed they said just sigh here $2500. Not knowing about student loans or the difference between a loan , a pell grant or a Gary Grant ( ones an actor right?) the friendly and helpful financial add officer (sales man ) filled out the papers and all I had to do was sigh – and in 18 months I would be making a great salary and could pay the loan off. Well, a few months and one illness ,I found myself out of school paralyzed face ( ok only one side ) no medical insurance still working several jobs – an some time after this the school closed down – but their loan office still manage to fine me – two men show up at my job one day show some sort of badge and they inform me that the school had lost the loan papers and that even thought I only attended the school for a few months I had to sigh papers and take out a loan with a bank for the full $2500- I was later to find out that someone affiliated with the school had walked off with a lot of money ( well, some dumb bunny had to be on the hook - guess who ).
Ok a few years later( 1984) I tried a real school, a University, still broke and $2500 in the hole I with the help of the financial aide office signed up for another $2500. After having a vision check- up a good look at the road to hell -remember the good intentions, I saw that I clearly could not afford stay on this road much longer, so I left school and got several more jobs – not one after the other but at the same time and much like celebrity deaths , bad things come in groups of threes ; Low wages , long hours and no benefits was a recipe for, if not disaster then the next best thing .
Went the good old student loan people came a knocking in 1989 I had no money , so the first step in to default hell started the – TAX REFUND OFF SET- I was really not making much money then so I got a refund ( as apposed to now I am really not making much money –just not making much money -without the really part now I don’t get a refund anymore at all- but the good news was that even though I really could have used that refund the Department of Education was getting something - or so I thought !!!
Now to collection agency hell; all tough to be fair I did not get a lot of the harassing phone calls at home – I could not afford a phone, so I got a few at work- but luckily I had neighbors that had phones or at least male neighbors- the collection agency called every man within a block radius of where I lived and gAve, not only my full name, but my address and they all made regular deliveries of messages to my home at all hours of the day and night .
Well in the 1990s remember the recession - during the 1990s I had several part-time jobs with the top wage of 6.00 per hour and no health care benefits one does live well in Washington D.C, on 6.00 per hour! Oh, and remember those stimulus checks-I never got one, but I hear the Department of Education did!
On the tail end of the 90s I lost both of my part time jobs – timing is everything!
Well after holding on for as long as possible on unemployment - yes it does run out - I was out , out of a job out of money and out of a place to live -this went on for 5 years yes it is possible to survive for five years without a job and no money well I had a job -it was looking for a job but that does not pay much .
Anyway by 2003 things where looking up and I had managed after 3 years of volunteering at public library (that is how I paid for yes paid for the food stamps that I got $80 a month went my unemployment ran out ) - for 5.00 per hour 16 hours per week , a free bus pass in addition to sleeping on someone sofa I could certainly afford to relinquish my tax refund – oh yes people with no money, no job and no address are still required to pay taxes ( the only thing that is certain is death and taxes) Speaking of death if you are reading this and have no money for school or college –DO NOT apply for a government loan – go to a nice respectable loan shark because if you can’t pay them back they only kill you and get it over with .
Back to the story … in 2005 by divine intervention and two years of papering the state with my resume I find work two ( good) part time jobs . Now, I know I was wrong in my thinking , why was I not thinking Wow! now I can pay those Student loans
I selfishly attended to the business of a getting back on my feet - but I had not forgotten about my student loans I had contacted the Department of Education a few times wanting to know how much I had paid back and how far I had to go I had managed to keep letters that appeared around tax time stating the IRS request tax offsets to the Department of Education. All of the letter that I had totaled around $ 6,000.00 so thing s should not be that bad right –WRONG-
In 2008 the Department of Education Garnished 15% of my wages and to date has taken 12,000.dollars that combined with the tax offset brings us to the Grand total of close to $ 18,000.00 dollars on a 5,000.00 dollar loan.
I have been told that this 18, 000. Does not really count for anything because it is not voluntary ( under garnishment ) so here I sit and I guess they will be garnishing my social security check next I am 56- stop doing the math –I was 25 when I took out the loans.

ANONYMOUS, July 23, 2013

I have put off many major life decisions because of my student loan debt. I was the first in my family to go to college in the traditional way, right after high school with plans of going to a 4-year school. I looked at several schools in New York State including SUNY schools, Syracuse University, University of Buffalo, and Le Moyne College. I was interested in being on the swim team and I ended up going to Le Moyne without a scholarship. I mainly wanted to go to a smaller school because I grew up in a small town and graduated with only 200 people in my senior class. I wanted a better quality of education and a more personalized experience.

The first year I received a good amount of help from the college in the form of grants, I had a couple of scholarships, and I had been working and saving money since I was old enough to work. I life guarded, waitressed, and mowed lawns. After the first year I was struggling to keep up with my grades and still be on the swim team so I had to quit in order to maintain my grades and work study program. I was constantly stressed out about money in school because my parents are divorced and neither one of them wanted to help me pay for college. My only way to a better life was to go to college (or at least that's what I thought and was lead to believe when I was 18). I stayed in school and worked as much as I could handle. In the summers I life guarded on Lake Ontario 40 hrs a week and also waitressed the graveyard shift at Denny's on weekends and evenings. My senior year, 2nd semester I almost had to drop about because I had no way to pay tuition. I begged everyone I knew in my family to co-sign loans for me to no avail. I eventually applied for a private loan with Sallie Mae. They accepted me for my first loan with them on my own. The interest rate was a whopping 12%. I didn't care at the time because I just wanted to finish school and I signed on the dotted line. The second loan I tried to get from them they said I needed a cosigner. My mom was denied for any loans so the college helped me out a little bit more but I still have several thousand dollars to pay in order to enroll for my next semester. My step mom ended up cosigning for the last portion of my loan with Sallie Mae. Otherwise, I would have had to drop out with only one semester to go.

I graduated and signed up for the Jesuit Volunteer Corp. My original plan was to be an Americorp Volunteer but most of the funding was cut for that program in 2006 when I was trying to apply. I had never really considered teaching but I had started thinking about it at this point. The Jesuit Volunteer Corp position that I had ended up being in Raleigh, N.C. working with homeless families and children. My main role was to run an after school program for the homeless children in our shelter. I also did case management with families and tried to get them back on their feet within three months time. It was a very high stress job and I was constantly working. I loved it! I didn't end up getting any student loan forgiveness for volunteering because they were not considered part of the Americorp volunteer network. That has since changed and now volunteers do get some student loan forgiveness. I have tried to see if I could still get it for my year but I have been denied. During the year I volunteered Sallie Mae made me pay forbearance fees and wouldn't work with me much at all even though I was volunteering. They called me constantly.

I have since become a teacher (I had to go back to school for year to become certified) and it has been a struggle to keep up with payments ever since. I pay about $200 to Sallie Mae each month and I have been unable to make the monthly payment of $300 that my federal loans want. I am currently applying for it to be based on my income. NC Teachers rank 48th or something in teacher pay and we haven't had a raise in 4 years. Unless you do count the 1% that was given last year. I once again have a high stress job but one that I find rewarding at the end of the day. I know that I can apply for teacher loan forgiveness after I have taught for 5 years. This upcoming school year will be year 5 for me. I have worked at 5 different schools over the past 5 years because I have been trying for that long to land a job in the county that I work (Wake County) which is the highest paid supplement in the state. Before that I had to commute 70 miles one way to Fayetteville and teach in some of the lowest performing/highest poverty schools. I wanted to stay in teaching that badly so I felt I had to do it. I also needed health insurance.

I have been renting the entire time that I have lived in Raleigh and I have moved a lot ( I have lived in approx 8 different places) because my relationship status has changed and I haven't been able to afford some of the places I've lived or roommates moved. At one point when a bad relationship ended I went to NY for a few weeks and then came back and stayed in the Catholic Worker House until I could save up enough for a deposit somewhere. I was technically homeless at this point but I had plenty of people I met volunteering to help me. I'm finally a little more stable. I'm living with a boyfriend in a house that we really like. It's great and everything but I'm almost 30 and I thought I'd be able to buy a house at this point or get married. I don't feel like either one of those things are in my near future. It's impossible to save money when every month all my money is already spoken for in my bills. My parents say that I should just move back to NY because teachers make more there but that isn't what I want to do. I love my boyfriend and we do one day hope to get married but that can't happen until he finds his career. I am the main bread winner right now because he just finished his 2 year degree and is looking for work in Drafting or Mechanical Engineering.

I just hope that someday teachers will be compensated. I know I get $5,000 for teaching for 5 years (I'm an English Teacher--Math and Science or Special Education teachers get 17,500 forgiven) but that is a really small amount compared to the $60K in debt that I am in due to going to a private college and then having to go back to school to become a teacher. I obviously know that I am responsible and I do want to be able to pay and still eat at the same time! I have dedicated my life to a career of public service and I want to give back to my community but it seems that my government and my community do not want to take care of me.

Elisha, July 12, 2013, Raleigh, NC

I’m a public librarian

At this point in time, I fear that I will shortly loose the only transportation I have to and from work, as well as the ability to pay for every day expenses and debt incurred in what have turned out to be futile attempts fixing my car. Needless to say that if I lose my transportation to work, I will lose all hope in maintaining a standard of living at or above poverty.

As a graduate student, I did not qualify for the Perkins Loans. As a graduate student, I only was able to qualify for Direct Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) and private loans. In order to pay for school, I took out Direct Loans totaling $ 37, 550. 1 This paid my tuition to Long Island University as well as most of my room and board. (Additionally, I had to take a private loan for the balance due.) As I was attending from out of state (Delaware), I had no choice but to live on campus.

Based on information provided by Loan Servicing, with interest, the loans are over $ 42, 000. (If I pay back the minimum, extended loan payments--over 25 years, I'll have paid back over $100K.)

Due to several food allergies and other dietary concerns, I eat a diet that is primarily fresh fruit and vegetables. Even at Wal-Mart, I am forced to pay extremely high prices to eat the foods recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

So, in other words, the only loan forgiveness program available to me is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. There are several repayment options available for students, mostly consisting of 10 years to 25 years, consisting of minimum monthly payments that are already out of my budget. Even with Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment plans, the monthly payments cause me to struggle. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program required 120 perfect payments, which just isn't feasible.

My monthly budget is stretched so tight that I am no longer surviving without assistance without family and friends. (My family is in Delaware, and sends me money—I’m 30 and should not need them to!) The cost of living index in Covington, Louisiana (where I worked and lived till July of this year) is 97.9. This meant that 97.9 percent of my salary goes to cost of living (rent, utilities, groceries, etc.). This does not include additional expenses, such as student loans and credit-cards that I've used to repair a 13 year old car.

Now I am faced with even more financial stress. My forbearance is ending and the amount of money that I will be forced to pay under the IBR or ICR will literally leave me with no “cushion” at the end of the month. To compensate, I will need to reduce my food budget from $ 100/week (which prepares a total of 8 healthy meals and two frozen/fast food meals) to $ 50, forcing me to rely heavily on pre-packaged, unhealthy foods. (Should I do this, I will eventually become consistently ill and will miss time from work.)

Additionally, I am now faced with the need for newer used transportation. My car, which is the only way for me to get back and forth to work, no-longer functions reliably, causing me to miss work on several occasions. I cannot afford to fix the car, and without a release from my monthly bills, I will not be able to purchase and insure new transportation.

I have attempted to obtain additional part-time employment, without success. I had hoped that if I could work an additional 20 to 30 hours per week, on top of the 40-hour full time position I currently hold, I would be able to save enough money ($ 5, 000-$ 6, 000) for a new, used car. I have been turned down because of my education, or my work schedule, or other reasons. As of the date above, I've not been hired by any company.

In essence, I’m struggling.

I fear that without the cancellation of my student loans, the financial hardships I will be faced with will not only overwhelm me but force me to choose between defaulting on my loans or giving up my career as a public librarian in favor of acquiring public assistance.

Anonymous, July 10, 2013, Jackson, MS

The crisis of student loan debt is not limited to recent graduates. “I’m not unemployed, but I’m being crushed under a mountain of educational debt,” said Clancy DeSmet, 38, of Montpelier, Vt. "If something doesn't change, I'll never be able to own a home and have even considered not starting a family because of my debt."
After paying student loan payments each month, not much is left over for other expenses, DeSmet said, calling the situation “unsustainable.” DeSmet has paid off his student loans from college, but has accrued $180,000 in additional debt after attending Vermont Law School. DeSmet suggests capping student loan interest rates, expanding loan forgiveness for public employees, and allowing bankruptcy to wipe off debts left by student loans.

Clancy DeSmet, July 9, 2013, Montpelier, VT

I am a first generation college graduate who finished a Ph.D. at a top research institution. I have persevered through much financial hardship throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers. I had to take 2 years of during my undergraduate studies to support my parents, and worked full time as I earned my BA. When I decided that my dream was to be a professor, I decided to take out federal loans to supplement my modest stipend. Student Loan Administration at my school always assured me that repayment would never be a problem. I now am in a prestigious post-doctoral position with the title of Assistant Professor at University of Chicago, and Direct Loans has made it impossible for me to repay my loans. I have been in forbearance for most of my 3 years as a professor, because they want me to pay them 22% of my income every month, which I cannot afford. I was told that my repayment burden would never be more than 10% of my income, but they calculate 10% of your pre-tax income, which is absurd. I do not have a car, tv, cable, or internet at home. I live modestly in Chicago, which has the highest sales taxes in the U.S. I have offered time and time again to pay $350/month, which is roughly the 10% of my income, and the Direct Loans loan officers typically get very angry at me, offering me only the option of forbearance or to pay $670/month. As a result, I am being forced to consider other career options, even though I have been professionalizing as an academic for over a decade and have a promising career in front of me. I just cannot understand why the Federal Government is making it so difficult for borrowers to pay back their loans. When I decided I wanted to be an educator, I knew I was making a huge financial sacrifice in order to do so. I never knew that the Federal Government would be so callous and unyielding in their demands to their promising future educators. I am a fantastic teacher who has made a significant difference in my students' lives, and who is truly committed to education and research. If I am not able to work out a satisfactory repayment plan with Direct Loans, I will be forced to leave academia in order to go into the private sector. This possibility saddens me immensely. I sacrificed everything to get where I am, and the ONLY reason I would leave is because I cannot work out a MONTHLY repayment plan with the Federal Govt. Both of my parents are homeless, neither of them have jobs, and while I do not support them, I do live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save any money, willing to give all my discretionary savings to repay my loans, but according to the Federal Govt, it's just not enough. I really need help!!!

Lauren Silvers, July 3, 2013, University of Chicago

I graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and roughly $83,000 in student loan debt. I moved back home in July 2009 and tried to find full time employment. My mom lost her house to foreclosure in 2008 so her new house (a rental) was less than ideal for 4 people to reside in. With just one bathroom and 2 bedrooms (Jack & Jill style no less)and window a.c. units, and no internet (making it a little more difficult to apply for jobs)I really felt like I had hit rock bottom and pulling myself up was going to be more challenging than I could have ever imagined. In October 2009 I found part time work as a cashier at a local grocery store making minimum wage and no benefits. What followed after that job was a string of part time jobs that offered little to no benefits and paid minimum wage. I didn't obtain full time employment with a job specific to my degree until December 2011. I was able to keep my federal loans in deferment until I could afford to do IBR. However, the IBR for my federal loans has not been helpful because the IBR does not include the amount of money I'm spending on my private student loans each month. My private student loans (my most expensive debt) are with Sallie Mae and they are an absolute nightmare. As it stands right now, I'm paying $602.50 a month for my student loans. That amount INCLUDES IBR for my federal loans. I have come close to defaulting twice now on my private loans. The only reason why I have not defaulted is because I am fortunate enough to live with my boyfriend. He pays for all of our living expenses (rent, utilities, and food). These loans have kept me from being able to pump money back into the economy. I cannot afford to go shopping for clothes or household items. I won't be able to buy a home or take vacations. I can honestly say that I am worse off now because I went to college. Something needs to be done about the unaffordable cost of higher education and the predatory lending of student loans. Private student loans are so dangerous. They offer no consumer protection rights such as bankruptcy or IBR. It's ashame, really. I can only hope and pray that things change for us.

Anonymous, July 2, 2013, Illinois

I could go on social security now, but I'm putting it off as long as I can to increase my later (social security) monthly income. I am still paying off student loans! I have to-date paid back 25% MORE than the original amount borrowed to go to college, but still owe at least double that original amount. I sure would like to be done with it! We need to get to the crux of the student loan debt crisis ASAP. People do want to pay back FAIRLY what they borrowed, but the system actually seems rigged to make it impossible -- especially for those who are struggling financially but are making every good-faith effort to pay it off. Many debtors end up paying double or triple -- largely due to excessive capitalized interest and also consolidation and/or rehabilitation fees -- the initial loan they actually received to get their college degree. This seems really out of sync with the original mission of the student loan program. What is needed is a reasonable cap on the total amount paid back over the original loan. And it is critical that needed reforms be enacted not only for present and future borrowers, but also retroactively to those currently in great financial distress and overburdened from their student loan debt.

S.L., July 1, 2013, New Hampshire

I went to art university in 2000 and borrowed over 100k in student loans for my BFA. I paid at least 100k in interest and principal over the past decade while I freelanced in the visual effects industry. I began paying a minimum of $1000 a month beginning 6 months upon graduation (all interest), and on one occasion I dropped $10,000 to pay off my federal consolidation loan, after working incredible amounts of overtime on a project. Now I have defaulted on my private consolidation loan, after a year of unemployment. My industry is outsourcing and jobs are becoming more difficult to find and even more difficult to keep. I consider myself to be a responsible person. What upsets me most is that default ruins everything in your credit and you get no recognition for everything you did right. I am disregarded and penalized as if I never paid a penny for my education. I would like to have my MFA someday but it is not possible in my current situation. I don't see myself making investments that I see people around me doing every day, like buying a car or a home or taking a vacation to another country. This is not my American dream.

Tracy, June 30, 2013, Sausalito, California

This is my story.
Honolulu, HI -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/19/2013 -- Alejandra Lalama, 25-year-old college graduate, has paid over $30,000 in student loan payments since 2008, but the student debt she owes has only gone down a few thousand dollars to $66,000. Like so many other student loan borrowers, she is caught in a debt trap between capitalized interest and interest on the principal balance. In addition to these problems, Hurricane Sandy stormed through her home town in New Jersey and destroyed her car. To get a leg up out of her financial mess, Alejandra started a CrowdFundEDU" href="">fundraiser on CrowdFundEDU, a site where people can crowd fund for anything related to education, including student loan debt.

This isn’t a story of living beyond her means, not being responsible or not making payments. Alejandra has never been late on a payment or taken forbearance, even when she was laid off, because she knew how much her interest would pile up. She works full-time and lives at home with her mother but her salary, less than 30K, goes mostly to her private student loans with Sallie Mae and federal government student loans. After losing her Ford Explorer to the wrath of Sandy, she had to buy another car and is now struggling to make car payments and insurance in addition to the student loan payments.

Alejandra maintains a positive outlook, but wishes she had understood more about what she was getting herself into when she applied for financial aid at the young, idealistic age of an 18-year-old college freshman. Student loans are the only types of loans in the United States that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

The Fallen American Dream is a documentary film about U.S. students' struggles with the high cost of college education and student loans. Produced by the Student Body of America Association (SBAA), this film examines how the $1 trillion student debt epidemic is affecting the pursuit of the American Dream.

Always in search for viable solutions to help students, SBAA believes crowdfunding has enormous potential to help student loan borrowers dig themselves out of debt, or at least get ahead of capitalized interest and start paying down their principal balance. If student loan borrowers crowdfund to get ahead on their payments (or even pay them off), it could significantly lower the capitalized interest and total amount they would pay to lenders.

About Student Body of America Association
Student Body of America Association, (, based in Honolulu, HI, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization operated exclusively for educational purposes. Our mission is to provide easily accessible information and resources to educate and support students nationwide in achieving an education, and to guide individuals to apply their knowledge and skills to make the best decisions on an individual and societal basis.

Student Body of America Association Press Page:

CrowdFundEDU Fundraiser:

Source: Student Body of America Association
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 5:00 AM CDT - Permalink

Alejandra Lalama, June 30, 2013, Little Ferry, NJ

I got stuck with a very high interest rate - 8.25%. Because of a lay off and financial hardships, I've had to postpone payments. I originally borrowed about $35k. I don't mind paying what I borrowed, but to pay all that interest back is criminal. It's also unjust that my rate is as high as it is, considering 3.4% seems to the current rate (if congress acts to protect it).

anonymous, June 27, 2013

I am extremely proud that I have been able to obtain a bachelors and a dual masters degree over the course of several years, but I am anxious about my debt. In fact, my undergrad loans currently have an interest rate of 3.5%, but each and every single one of my graduate school loans carry an interest rate of 6.8%. That rate is currently more than a mortgage rate! In addition, due to the wording and qualifications of the income sensitive payment plan, I do not qualify. I knew very well that my debt would be large, but I never anticipated my interest to be more than my mortgage interest rate. It is disheartening to me that our country continues to reward those who choose not to persue higher education and punishes those who are trying to improve it. What has our country come to when abusing the system is a better guarantee than actually working for a living? Had I had the option to obtain grants and scholarships, then I wouldn't have so much educational debt. But, my being a single white female did not qualify me for such funding, unless I chose to lie about who I am. I am a strong woman and will continue to achieve greatness, but for those who I hope to lead into greatness, I will not support a higher education due to the financial burden it creates. Our country states that education is the key, but they do nothing to support it! Just look at the number of executives who not only do not have higher education, but only obtained their position based upon their connections. It truly is sad that our actions are drastically different from our words.

Tanya Gahl, June 25, 2013

I currently have no debt, but in my last year of Nursing school my Pell grant has run out, and I am forced to take a loan. The interest rate is already a little hefty, and makes me worry about my student loan bills once I graduate. If they double, then that will be double the worry. I come from a poor background, and getting an education is the only practical way I can see to do better for my family. With unemployment rate as high as it is we need to focus on educating people and getting them back to work. Countries that aren't as technologically, or even supposedly financially, as advanced as us such as Mexico and Cuba offer free education to their citizens. When will the United States of America stand up for their citizens and at least make our education affordable?

Sabrina, June 25, 2013, Chicago, IL

I thought I was doing the best thing for me and my family by returning to school to get a master in nursing as a pediatric nurse practitioner. I graduated in December 2012 and passed my boards on the first attempt in February. We returned home to Arkansas from Louisiana, in the summer of 2012 for a job opportunity for husband. He too has over $35,000 in student loan debt from his MBA. Combined we have over $100,000 in student loan debt, only for graduate degrees. Prior to graduation I began looking for APN (advanced practice nurse) jobs and realized I would not be eligible for an interview until I had graduated and passed my boards. So I started looking for part-time work as an RN. Having my graduate degree made getting a job as an RN hard because I was considered over qualified. After 6 months of job searching and interviewing with no luck with an APN job I have finally got a RN job, part-time. This month my student loan grace period is up. My interest rate is almost 7%, I have accrued nearly 6,000+ in interest already. I search the entire state for jobs, but because I am pediatric specific the jobs are few and far between and they usually want someone who already has experience if there is one open. My recommendation for the younger generation is to learn a trade, don't waste the money on higher education right now, it is not worth the money when you can't find a job! I use to be all about education, but the cost has gotten so high and the jobs are so hard to land that it is simply not worth it now!

Katherine, June 22, 2013, Little Rock, Ar

I want to personally thank you for your work on introducing legislation to correct the current student loan problem in Our Nation.

As a middle aged American (43), I have been carrying subsidized student loans since I have been 18 years old (25 years+). I have never defaulted, however, there have been times that I was not able to eat much less make payments on anything. I have always worked, even at low paying jobs just to keep from being homeless. I have also never taken a dime of unemployment benefits, and always paid my taxes.

The original $14,000.00 or so has become nearly $29,000.00 at the high rate of 8% over the course of twenty five years with all of the forebearances and deferments that I have taken to avoid default.

Due to the current economic situation, I decided it was time to get back in school to finish my Bachelors Degree, and pursue a higher degree (MBA), and am going to need to increase that debt even further. Having this debt in the background of my adult life has taken a toll on me. It really has taken away some of my hope and faith for future.

The debt it seems has always been there, and more than likely will always be there. When I finish my MBA in 2016, and with an additional 20 year payback period, I would have student loan debt in my life for over 48 years, at great profit to the servicer, Sallie Mae.

Thank you for taking a stand on this issue, and know that there are many older Americans that need this help as well as the new generation of students looking for a better life.

Anonymous, June 20, 2013

Gosh! I love the American dream. I love the people sitting on their porches getting stoned, crunked up and drinking their malt beverages, not working having several children. While I work my butt off every single day supporting their punk habit. I work hard all day everyday. I'm 35. I do have a good job. I also have 800 a month going to student loans that is just loans. My living bills are there also which means I am broke as a joke when I get paid. I try to think outside the box constantly to make extra money so I can treat myself to a gourmet meal at taco bell. Garnishment has come I worked for peanuts when I was younger surviving second to second unable to pay student loan debt. All good my decision to go to school. Not my decision not to be taught by my educators in high school about student loans, interest, all the bull shit that comes with it. The people who are suppose to teach and protect your well being failed. All I heard you don't go to college you will be nothing brainwashed everyday. They didn't tell me a kid who didn't have a checking account nothing about loans squat. So I guess the successful people in high school are the ones that did not listen to the bull shit and are getting stoned drugged up and having hundreds of kids mostly unsupervised. No stress of loans just stressed of whom their going to get knocked up and where to get an ice cold king cobra. The American dream. Love it. Sike.

Eric Scott, June 15, 2013, Columbus Ohio

I'm 37 years old and I owe over $200,000 in education debt. I went back to college after dropping out when I was younger. I completed my bachelor's at age 30 (2006) and my master's at age 32 (2008). I have yet to find a full time job in any field. The only jobs available would not pay enough for me to live in my area. I have done volunteer work after volunteer work to keep up skills, but no one will hire me. My self-esteem and confidence has taken a nose dive, and my anxiety about my future has become a disorder. Now I'm in a self-fulfilling cycle of lack of confidence, messing up an interview, then reaffirming my poor self-image. It's extremely frustrating. I have all these skills, and no one will give me a chance. I just want to be self-sufficient. Is that too much to ask?

Heather, June 13, 2013, Rhode Island

As the only child of a single mother, getting into college was hard enough. Luckily, I had always been an honor student so I was able to qualify for some grants and scholarships through my school, Champlain College in Burlington, VT.

However, as Champlain is a private college and not a "state school", tuition rates and cost of living on campus was a bit more considerable than other colleges. Don't get me wrong, I loved getting my education at Champlain, but unfortunately I feel as though I signed myself up for a 'double-whammy', as it were.

Not only did I attend a college that was very expensive, but I also went into the human service field, earning a BS w/ a concentration in Social Work. I knew going into college that I wanted to help people in some way, to give back to all the people that had helped me get to where I am today. Unfortunately I now feel as though I am being punished in some way for having these kind of motivations. I could certainly have decided to go into accounting, or go for the more general 'Business' degree that may have allowed me to earn more money. But I wouldn't have been following my dreams. My education wouldn't have been worth anything if I knew I was going to be stuck in a job I hated for the rest of my life. But hey, I probably could have made a decent living.

As it stands, I have $30,000 in student loan debt to pay back. I have been able to make all my payments okay, but only just barely. Doubling the interest rates on my already stretched finances will only set me back that much further. I am making huge sacrifices in order to try and pay off my loans as soon as possible. I'm living at home, splitting grocery expenses with my family, and am just starting to get a footing in my career and finances. Why am I being punished further for doing absolutely everything I can to repay my debtors?

Doubling interest rates on student loans is not going to solve this nation's problems. If we are looking to make America a strong fiscal nation, we need to invest in our future and not saddle the up-and-coming professionals with debt that will take a good 1/3 of their lives to pay back. There are other ways to get America out of the red, and back into the black.

As a Case Manager at my local Area Agency on Aging, I am loving my job. The pay is okay (not fantastic, but not terrible either). I love the work I am doing, and I love being able to give back to my local community through direct social service work. However, I don't love that the only way I am able to get by with paying my student loans back is to become dependent on my family for the next 7 years.

Insane student loan debt is not helping this nation. I believe America should base repayment on the income level of each student after college. If you go into human services, you obviously aren't going to be making as much in your career as someone who becomes a lawyer or an international businessperson. Doubling the interest rates on my already astronomical loans is not going to help my situation.

Please reconsider this proposition. The continued success of this nation depends on it.

Megan Goodell, June 13, 2013, Lyndonville, VT

I am a teacher who just finished getting her master's degree. I have also had to retire due to head trauma received in a car accident last fall (2012). I was told I would recover and just recently told that I have come as far as I can. This was sad news for me because now I can not teach or do any other job due to memory issues.
I took out a loan to get my degree. If I was teaching, there would be no problem repaying the loan. I will repay the loan but it is going to take time now. If the interest rate goes up, I'll only be paying on the interest rate and never on the never getting the loan paid off. I will never be able to work. Unforeseen things happen in people's lives and a car accident that wasn't my fault is one of those things. I live on Social Security Disability and as you know that isn't much because teachers do not pay into Social Security. I can not take my teacher retirement unless I take a much lower rate so I'm going to have to wait until I'm 65.
I'd like to think that the government will find other options to reducing the national debt other than raising the interest rate on our loans. Those that have loans at a certain rate should be able to pay back those loans back at their current interest rate. Future government loans can have the higher interest rate.
I don't want to default on my loan but if the rates go up, I don't know how I will be able to pay back my loan.
The government is going to face many people defaulting on their loans if they raise the interest rate and I'm sure many do that already. If that happens it could affect future students from getting loans.
Please vote against raising the interest rate on student loans.

Melanie, June 13, 2013

Both my brother and I were in college at the same time,when my father died. After his stroke my dad refused to hand the bill paying over to my mom. Now if you have ever lived with a victim of a stroke you would know how unstable and unreasonable that stranger can be. So when my father died five years later it was shocking and so too were the lack of funds he left or didn't leave as well as a tremendous about of debt. My mom is an teacher and doesn't have enough years to earn what is owed. We had to get student loans, as well as scholarships and grants. Our hardship is hard enough with out the debt we now have. He worked hard, were deans list student, did what was expected and got what we didn't expect in this great US of A. How is it the greatest country in the world, who helps all these other countries and we don't take care of our own. Please help.

Shannon McConnell, June 11, 2013

I am Divorced mother of two children under 12. Frustrated by the limited employment and income opportunites of a G.E.D. holder, I made the tough decision to go back to school. At that time I was faced with what would be the inevitable certainty of having to resort to the public assistance programs to survive. Unfortunately for me, my family was financially unable to assist in any way. Seeing no other option, I accepted loans believing that I would acquire gainful employment above minimum wage with every intention to pay them back. I completed my degree with a 3.75 in December of 2005.

Fresh out of college I did not have any certifications and zero job related experience in a highly over-saturated, extremely competitive market. It took nine months of resume submission and scores of job applications before I was forced to accept an entry position in an electronics retail chain. I earned slightly more than minimum wage, working less than thirty hours with no benefits. That company ultimately filed bankruptcy. I spent my entire unemployment period attempting to find any position in my related field unsuccessfully. I found myself again having to take a temporary job, which also came to an end and sent me back to unemployment.

I have since given up on ever finding an entry position in my field of training. Eight years later, I find myself facing the same fate as I did before I went to school, except this time with a considerable combination of federal and private loan debt. At this time even if I were able to make the minimum payment they demand, it would be close to $800.00 per month.

In my desperate efforts to avoid living in my car with my children, I have been unable to remain competitive in my degree. My education focused on the technology of 2000 which is now considered outdated. Most recently before being laid-off again, I earned a whopping $10.00 per hour in a factory job. After taxes I earn a total of $1400. Of which I could only afford dental insurance, leaving $1320. Rent in a terrible neighborhood, water, electric, gas to get to work, and car insurance costs $1040.00. Leaving a mere $280.00 to buy food, medical, dental, prescription, and vision bills, clothes, car repairs, and school supplies. We do not receive any form of public assistance at this time.

My car is on its last miles, the transmission is going out. The tires have little tread and hydroplanes when it rains. Our refrigerator and cupboards are bare. My children have outgrown all but a few of their clothes and shoes are full of holes. I'm ashamed to admit that I myself only own one bra that I'm forced to wash daily. Besides having serious medical concerns being over the age of forty, at times I find myself in constant pain and I can not afford to see a physician.

Obviously, my credit is toast. For eight years I have sacrificed my health and struggled just to survive. I honestly do not believe that in this lifetime I will ever be able to pay off the debt, be able to pass a credit check to buy or rent a home, or a car. My financial future is destroyed. Right now while I'm unemployed they are kind enough to offer forebearance until I go back to work again and no longer continue to qualify for it. Every night I know that soon they will be coming for their judgement to garnish my wages and I will no longer be able to pay the rent.

In honesty, I did this to be a productive member of society. I am not ignorant, nor lazy. I believed that becoming better educated would provide better opportunities. I did not want to live on government assistance programs. Instead, all I succeeded in actually doing was destroying my life. My advice to anyone even considering pursuing the illusion of upward mobilty and the American dream with loans- Don't! I wish I had just gone down to the food stamp office like others in my situation, at least I would have had a minimal chance of getting out of that mess unlike the one I'm in.

Anonymous, June 8, 2013, TN

I am Divorced mother of two children under 12. Frustrated by the limited employment and income opportunites of a G.E.D. holder, I made the tough decision to go back to school. At that time I was faced with what would be the inevitable certainty of having to resort to the public assistance programs to survive. Unfortunately for me, my family was financially unable to assist in any way. Seeing no other option, I accepted loans believing that I would acquire gainful employment above minimum wage with every intention to pay them back. I completed my degree with a 3.75 in December of 2005.

Fresh out of college I did not have any certifications and zero job related experience in a highly over-saturated, extremely competitive market. It took nine months of resume submission and scores of job applications before I was forced to accept an entry position in an electronics retail chain. I earned slightly more than minimum wage, working less than thirty hours with no benefits. That company ultimately filed bankruptcy. I spent my entire unemployment period attempting to find any position in my related field unsuccessfully. I found myself again having to take a temporary job, which also came to an end and sent me back to unemployment.

I have since given up on ever finding an entry position in my field of training. Eight years later, I find myself facing the same fate as I did before I went to school, except this time with a considerable combination of federal and private loan debt. At this time even if I were able to make the minimum payment they demand, it would be close to $800.00 per month.

In my desperate efforts to avoid living in my car with my children, I have been unable to remain competitive in my degree. My education focused on the technology of 2000 which is now considered outdated. Most recently before being laid-off again, I earned a whopping $10.00 per hour in a factory job. After taxes I earn a total of $1400. Of which I could only afford dental insurance, leaving $1320. Rent in a terrible neighborhood, water, electric, gas to get to work, and car insurance costs $1040.00. Leaving a mere $280.00 to buy food, medical, dental, prescription, and vision bills, clothes, car repairs, and school supplies. We do not receive any form of public assistance at this time.

My car is on its last miles, the transmission is going out. The tires have little tread and hydroplanes when it rains. Our refrigerator and cupboards are bare. My children have outgrown all but a few of their clothes and shoes are full of holes. I'm ashamed to admit that I myself only own one bra that I'm forced to wash daily. Besides having serious medical concerns being over the age of forty, at times I find myself in constant pain and I can not afford to see a physician.

Obviously, my credit is toast. For eight years I have sacrificed my health and struggled just to survive. I honestly do not believe that in this lifetime I will ever be able to pay off the debt, be able to pass a credit check to buy or rent a home, or a car. My financial future is destroyed. Right now while I'm unemployed they are kind enough to offer forebearance until I go back to work again and no longer continue to qualify for it. Every night I know that soon they will be coming for their judgement to garnish my wages and I will no longer be able to pay the rent.

In honesty, I did this to be a productive member of society. I am not ignorant, nor lazy. I believed that becoming better educated would provide better opportunities. I did not want to live on government assistance programs. Instead, all I succeeded in actually doing was destroying my life. My advice to anyone even considering pursuing the illusion of upward mobilty and the American dream with loans- Don't! I wish I had just gone down to the food stamp office like others in my situation, at least I would have had a minimal chance of getting out of that mess unlike the one I'm in.

Anonymous, June 8, 2013, TN

In order to fulfill my dream to teach in public schools (there were a shortage of teachers and they would hire with degrees out of field) I went back to college to finish my Bachelor in Business Administration through an online college. I finished in March of 2009, was promised career placement and burdened with 6.8% interest rate. I have not been able to secure ANY work during that time and deferred interest accrues and increases my student debt. BTW...the shortage of teachers disappeared right after the housing crisis in 2008.

Even if I was able to secure a job; the pay is so low that the student loans would keep me with excessive debt and never get paid off. If the banking industry can offer 3.5% interest rates why can't we get those with our loans? It's not like we can re-finance the debt. Also the government has a program through USDA for low income home ownership. I bought a house in 1990 with a fixed interest of 9.25%, never late with a payment, but they will not lower the interest to help me pay off the house (which is upside down now!).

It seems like you have to have money and strong credit to get the breaks in this society and things need to change for the better; sooner rather than later.

Susan Hoyt, May 30, 2013, Florida

I regret my decision to go to college because of my student loans. I was the first person in my family to go to college, so I did not have outside guidance. I was also 19 years old, so I was naive and had no idea that I probably should have researched how student loans work. I stupidly depended on the financial advisors at my for-profit college (DeVry) because I assumed they knew how to do their jobs. Federal loans alone could not cover my education costs, so I was encouraged to get private loans through Sallie Mae to make up the difference. I was told that private loan repayments were locked-in at $100 no matter how much I borrowed, so I "wouldn't have to worry about paying for school." Well, that was a lie. My minimum private loan payment is $353, which is over 3 times the amount I was promised. After I graduated and my grace period ended, I called the financial aid department in tears. Of course, they denied ever telling me abou the locked-in payment. Add in my federal loan, and my student loan payments are $555 a month. It's ridiculous, and has affected my emotional well-being. I have tried everything I can to lower my payments with Sallie Mae. They always say that I "make too much." The fact that my private and federal loans are considered separate hinders my ability to get lower payments on either loan to help ease the burden. Those payments combined eat away 20% of my monthly income. And this is not debt that I accumulated due to being irresponsible. This is debt that I have because I wanted to get an education to better myself. My private loan interest rate is variable, and is currently sitting at 9%. Despite the large quantities of money I throw at them, I have barely scraped the principal. At this rate, I will be 60 before my loans are paid off. I feel like I'm being punished.

Heather Carouth, May 29, 2013, Dallas, TX

We must look at revamping the student loan interest rates on the students that have already graduated. We must look not only at Federal subsidize loans but private loans as well. I have two college graduates, one a Bachelor in Computer Science and the other child is Bachelor in Finance. They both have Sallie Mae Loans and NJ Class loans with interest at 6.75, 7.8 and higher. Their payments are approximately $1,300 a month. Fortunately, they have found jobs, but they still live at home, cannot buy a new car, etc., they cannot move forward with their lives.

Lower the interest rates and you will boost the economy. The government bailed out the banks, the car industry and now its time to focus on the children.

Linda Gwozdik
95 Franklin Avenue
Maplewood, NJ 07040
Email :

anonymous, May 29, 2013, new jersey

I went to a 3 tier law school and foolishly took out public AND private loans, and even borrowed for living expenses. After graduation, I had employment but it didn't pay nearly enough to meet my minimum monthly payments to the debts. So I forebeared, for way too long. Now I have a total balance on all student debt of a number that I have yet to hear anyone topping - $239,000 approximately. It is so discouraging that all the predictable responses come to mind: just shutting down, suicide, etc.

I am not blaming anyone but myself, it was all my fault and I was foolish and blind. I expected a bigger salary after law school.

At this point I am lost, I do not know what to do.


John Hansen, May 27, 2013

It all began when I decided to divorce my husband. I went to a shelter as no money saved and lived on welfare for 8 months til I could get on program with Workforce and enroll in school. I had two children and started school full time to become a nurse. Living on student loans and pell grants I obtaine an RN two year degree in 3 years. I have come a long way and own my own home and car, children are grown. I graduated in 1995 and have been paying on a consolidated student loan for 18 years now and have not seen it go down significantly. The rate was 8.25% and is higher than my home loan. The EDDU says loan is older and they cannot change rates!!! The payments are automatic and not income contingent, $300.00 per month....Why is this a never ending debt??? I can only see this stretching out until I die!! It is very depressing and feel the government is making millions on students. Our house has been devalued in Florida now there is no equity in property. Bills are higher and incomes are frozen due to the ECONOMY. The Economy seems to be in the hands of the current administration. Government is making the rules on money and all are in their favor. I have been depressed over this for years just waiting for relief. Are there any lights in the tunnel, where does this end?? Nurses make decent paychecks but I have an old car and house needs repair and still a student loan that will not go away. No more American dream...just nightmare, look forward to not being able to afford health care also, just another benefit of our government. These rates are not fair, our schools are too overpriced, other countries take education to higher levels, our country just shows what greed can do! BTW I will be 62 this year so I do not know how long I can keep paying for the luxury of having a small home, old car, and 2yr. degree!!I have a hard time having $$ left for food and clothing. Sorry I ever went to school that is lesson I learned. Hard work for years results are evaporating!! My children wonder what will become of me and if they have to support me, isnt this sad. I was talked into school to help me support my family on my earnings, but I am supporting others who do not even work at all thru salary taxes, does Uncle Sam have to keep his hands in our pockets???

rosemarie, May 26, 2013, clearwater, fl

It all began when I decided to divorce my husband. I went to a shelter as no money saved and lived on welfare for 8 months til I could get on program with Workforce and enroll in school. I had two children and started school full time to become a nurse. Living on student loans and pell grants I obtaine an RN two year degree in 3 years. I have come a long way and own my own home and car, children are grown. I graduated in 1995 and have been paying on a consolidated student loan for 18 years now and have not seen it go down significantly. The rate was 8.25% and is higher than my home loan. The EDDU says loan is older and they cannot change rates!!! The payments are automatic and not income contingent, $300.00 per month....Why is this a never ending debt??? I can only see this stretching out until I die!! It is very depressing and feel the government is making millions on students. Our house has been devalued in Florida now there is no equity in property. Bills are higher and incomes are frozen due to the ECONOMY. The Economy seems to be in the hands of the current administration. Government is making the rules on money and all are in their favor. I have been depressed over this for years just waiting for relief. Are there any lights in the tunnel, where does this end?? Nurses make decent paychecks but I have an old car and house needs repair and still a student loan that will not go away. No more American dream...just nightmare, look forward to not being able to afford health care also, just another benefit of our government. These rates are not fair, our schools are too overpriced, other countries take education to higher levels, our country just shows what greed can do! BTW I will be 62 this year so I do not know how long I can keep paying for the luxury of having a small home, old car, and 2yr. degree!!I have a hard time having $$ left for food and clothing. Sorry I ever went to school that is lesson I learned. hard work to see evaporate!!!

rosemarie, May 26, 2013, clearwater, fl

I suffer from illnesses/injuries, that make it impossible for me to work in a normal setting. Major Depression had set in. I thought, if I can no longer be a nurse, what else can I do? I was looking into classes online and at the least 3 colleges (online) one after the other had convinced me that I could keep up and they would work with me. The more I couldn't keep up, the more depressed I got and further and further into debt. My student loans were $0 and now are at the least $25K. I am a disabled veteran who explained to the schools that I can no longer work and get Social Security. They made it seem that my schooling would be covered, with minimum cost to me. Now I am up to my eye balls in debt and have not accomplished a darn thing. It is just not right. Now I don't know how my 3 children are going to be able to go to college due to my mistakes while under a doctors care and taking medication, that added to my poor understanding and judgement in trusting the schools.

Anonymous, May 23, 2013

I suffer from illnesses/injuries, that make it impossible for me to work in a normal setting. Major Depression had set in. I thought, if I can no longer be a nurse, what else can I do? I was looking into classes online and at the least 3 colleges (online) one after the other had convinced me that I could keep up and they would work with me. The more I couldn't keep up, the more depressed I got and further and further into debt. My student loans were $0 and now are at the least $25K. I am a disabled veteran who explained to the schools that I can no longer work and get Social Security. They made it seem that my schooling would be covered, with minimum cost to me. Now I am up to my eye balls in debt and have not accomplished a darn thing. It is just not right. Now I don't know how my 3 children are going to be able to go to college due to my mistakes while under a doctors care and taking medication, that added to my poor understanding and judgement in trusting the schools.

Anonymous, May 23, 2013

What follows is my petition for tuition reimbursement. I have already been reimbursed for one quarter for faculty incompetence during an earlier quarter after I dismissed my dissertation committee for what appeared to be stalling. I have just dismissed a second committee for the same. Stalling takes the form of what you will read below. It also takes the form of a university provided dissertation template that has embedded coding errors that undo format revisions. I am over $120,000 in student loan debt from this university.

FR: Joseph Haefner
TO: School of Business - Walden University
RE: Refund of Spring, 2013 Quarter Tuition
CC: Academic Advising

Dear Committee,

I am requesting refund of my Spring, 2013 Quarter tuition with the following explanation:

In the Spring Quarter of 2012, Dr. Makrigeorgis delayed review and approval of my research proposal to the point where the copies being returned to me after review contained formatting errors introduced by committee members. I have continuously over the years reminded committee members that there are embedded format problems with the dissertation template that I received from Walden University. Dr. Makrigeorgis ignored my caution and he and/or Dr. Levasseur made changes to my Proposal and directed me to accept them after which they would submit my Proposal for defense. I reviewed their work, noted the errors that they introduced, and took a leave of absence out of frustration and to protest the numerous committee delays that were the consequence of haggling over nuances that added nothing to the value or content of the Proposal.

I used the leave to complete work on a book that was requested by a European academic publisher. It was about the preliminary theory, formulation, and case study leading up to my dissertation Proposal and draft of my Dissertation. I noted also that one of my published papers on the topic, co-authored by Dr. Makrigeorgis at his request, was included in a book compilation of business management articles. Another of my articles became required reading in an American University business management class.

Dr. Makrigeorgis maintained contact and kept encouraging me to reenter Walden to complete my dissertation. I had taken two quarters of leave and he wanted me back after only one quarter. I reentered and observed that he seemed upset when my book published. It seemed like he thought that he should be a coauthor. This is one of his professional themes. He has managed to become a co-author on four of his students’ published papers though never a primary author on any published work. I believe that Dr. Makrigeorgis viewed my work as rich with potential because of the attention it has been receiving. On numerous occasions he commented about being coauthor of future work. After reentering, my Proposal was reviewed and approved. I became ABD.

I completed my dissertation draft and submitted it to Dr. Makrigeorgis at the beginning of the Winter Quarter of 2012. The first comments back were via my personal email and not through Walden Universities email. His tone was immediately adversarial and instead of recognizing the value of the results of my research, and that my researched answered the Research Questions very nicely, he went down a path of outright error, misinterpreted statistics, poor understanding of the content, and convoluted logic. What follows is a small portion. Dr. M.’s comments are in blue and my thoughts are in red:
Joe, I reviewed your dissertation… To begin with, I opened the document and it showed a lot of red ink from my previous review… So I am not sure if you did a simple “accept red” in my last review or not but certainly this is causing a lot of confusion here… Yes, I reviewed the one you put up in the 7100 class…
The comments noted by Dr. Makrigeorgis were identification of my edits to the dissertation and not his prior comments. I wondered if Dr. Makrigeorgis had another graduate student review my dissertation. In the past, Dr. Makrigeorgis had his Forum students review other students’ work. It was unclear whether we were doing work for other courses that Dr. Makrigeorgis may be teaching or whether the assignments were purely didactic. In short, Dr. Makrigeorgis should have had his prior comment version.
So what I did was to say “accept all changes” so that I can see only black ink (an iffy thing I should not be doing…) and then I turned my red on again to add additional comments… So, we started this review on a very negative basis… I ONLY WANT TO SEE BALCK INK OING FORWARD. I hope this is crystal clear to you.
Pretty strong statement considering that he didn’t check his own work. This is an example, however, of how he treats his graduate students. Other graduate students have commented on this and do not like how he is imperious and never recognizes his own error. I have corrected his erroneous APA comments (for other faculty too).
Anyway, I did spend a lot of time in checking the consistency of the EFA run results… The results are ok but the presentation needs a lot of work…
Subsequently, in the Forum he would reverse his positive statement and make broad claims of “serious methodological issues”. The graphic presentation was quite good and very clear.
I also have a lot of BIG TIME confusion with your Open Systems Theory stuff here. I made a lot of comments on that… It boils down to this:
I am fine with bringing systems theory into the picture.. Now you run EFA and came up with 3 factors. Under each factor, we had a set of relevant questions to capture the factor. So if you want to bring Justice and Trust and all these things into the picture, you need to attach the corresponding Likert questions form the list of 66 that relate to your Table 12 and Fig 36 and 37. Else how does Factor 1 captured by 6-8 questions in the EFA runs relate to Justice and Trust etc? So this linkage is completely missing from Table 12 and Figs 36 and 37, you MUST have the actual Likert questions used in your survey as part of Table 12 and Figs 34 and 37. ULTIMATELY, YOU NEED TO NAME THE FACTORS DELRVED IN THE ANALYSIS. You did not do so. So this required.
Here is where Dr. Makrigeorgis has a good comment and then goes askew. I did present the theme of all of the questions, most were very close to the actual survey wording. However, the operational definitions leading to the actual questions are clear and do answer the question of how the survey questions relate to the theory from which they were extracted. This was clear in the dissertation. The linkage was not completely missing as was stated. Whoever is making these comments is seemingly unaware of what was written in the proposal and draft dissertation. The comment about naming the factors seems to not recognize that the factors that emerge in exploratory factor analysis typically are uniquely different from compartmentalized theories. That is the entire point of using EFA as a methodology and the point of my research questions – to see if hitherto unidentified factors emerged. They did. How are they to be named? Blunch (2008) in his book, Introduction to Structural Equation Modeling, explained that the researcher tries to interpret factors by correlation of the extracted factors around what they have in common. This is where my research became exciting. I identified a correlation for each of the three factors. The reviewer of my dissertation draft, by the capitalized comments, appears to have not read the dissertation to know this. The reviewer did not see that I did, in fact, name the factors according to what the extracted variables have in common. Instead of understanding the profound implications of the research, the reviewer entirely refuted what was obvious. This establishes an adversarial stance inconsistent with mentoring.
Dr. M. did not understand that the research results needed to be viewed through the lense of open systems theory. Instead of trying to understand that, he begins to argue against the methodology that he approved. That methodology, by the way, is standard for university research.
To add to my confusion, we had 4 factors, then you did something there to say k=3… Fine, so you run with 3. Then I see Figs 36 and 37 showing 2 factors. So what exactly are we doing here?
I presented graphic examples of two of the three tables and noted that the graphics were examples. The third graphic was the simplest of the three and the reader could grasp the concept of what I was doing. Dr. Makrigeorgis, or whoever was reviewing the draft, couldn’t make the logical leap and again took an adversarial tone inconsistent with mentoring. The adversarial tone would continue and arguments continue to jump around. One moment he is claiming that I cannot arrive at what EFA arrives at and the next he is asking to do stuff that has already been done. Nowhere does Dr. M. exhibit the capacity to communicate and mediate. It is simply his way (whatever that might be) or the highway.
I do not want to make any comments on Ch 5 until Ch 4 is fixed.
Now, I am really concerned. Walden has a policy of two weeks for review. Dr. M. is now, and has, established the practice of incomplete reviews followed by a small set of changes that are followed by another two weeks of review, small changes, review, small changes, review and so on. I suspect that he cannot complete his tasks because he is teaching numerous online courses at a number of different online schools. He handles this by being hostile with students and forcing them to take baby steps that slow down the dissertation process. That may be one reason why he didn’t recognize that my redline comments. Anyway, I submitted a draft and I wanted a complete review to work within the two week period. Instead, Dr. Makrigeorgis is restarting what caused me to request a leave of absence in 2012. I realized that I will never complete the dissertation within the allowed time frame at the rate Dr. Makrigeorgis was going. This worry was reinforced by Dr. M. beginning to argue statistical terminology nuances to which I responded with the following:
“Just a note about the use of the word relationships. Worker motivation research has already identified relationships between motivation manifest variables. The term, as such, is correct. Moreover, we know that EFA does, in fact, use the word correlation, correlation matrix for one. The entire point of EFA is to identify communality that can be described by a theme. When we get farther into CFA, the language says such things as, "Every manifest variable is connected. . . " (Blunch, 2008, p. 127). I appreciate your sensitivity to general concepts but we need to recognize that there are often slightly different descriptions of the same statistical approach. I keep reminding myself of that. However, the real question is, what motivation theorists are unaware that empirical research has already identified relationships between worker motivation variables? So, what I want to avoid are general universal mandates that result in obscuring the topic or creating unwieldy verbiage. In this instance, a simple word insertion could note that previous empirically identified relationships may be (are) more complex than previously identified.”
There were a couple more emails resulting in Dr. M.’s misinterpretation of the statistics in the dissertation draft. He mixed up Factor Loadings with Component Scores – two different statistics. Then, he launches into the following:

Joe, certainly there are relationships between the Likert questions… And I know that EFA math computes eigenvalues (which for a given factor measure the variance in all the variables which is accounted for by that factor) and also computes factor loadings (the correlation coeffs between the variables and factors which is the same as dividing the factor's eigenvalue by the number of variables). This is all terminology and no issues on all these things… My issues are again “how are you relating all these constructs such as Justice and Trust etc to Factor 1 and Factor 2? As I explained, the only way to do this is to have this:

Q5 and Q7 in my survey are under Factor 1 (based on my EFA)
Q5 and Q7 in my survey capture Justice and Trust (according to this author and that author)
Therefore I will draw Fig 36 showing Justice and Trust as 2 boxes around my Factor 1.
I will thus name my Factor 1 as “The Justice/Trust factor”

I appreciate that Dr. M. approves the analytics. However, Q5 and Q7 are not in Factor 1. In fact they do not emerge in any of the factors. So, he is now creating a fictitious dialogue. How does any student respond to a faculty who warps the discussion to something that does not exist? At this point, Dr. M. is going beyond adversarial and is manipulating the conversation to suggest things that do not exist. This theme as you can see from his comments below. Dr. M. suggests that somehow I am artificially mixing variables and as you can see from his comments below attempts to undermine the research. Actually, he is shouting as indicated by capital letters and cannot even type.

Else what you are showing me in Fig 36 is a pie in the sky, YOUR research does NOT support this diagram, as I explained, your research is on the first floor of a building and now we have all these other things on the second floor and telling me that they are all working for the same company or something of that sort! I do not buy that at all, ONLY THROUGH THE PROPER USE OF SURVEY QUESITONS RELATING THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS PUBLISJED IN THE LITERATURE TO YOUR SURVEY QUESTIONS AND THEN YOUR SURVEY QUWSTIONS TO FACTOR 1 AND 2 VIA EFA, THEN YOU CAN TIE IT ALL TOGETHER.

Earlier, Dr. M. said that I did not have a theme and now he is stating that I did propose a theme for each factor but somehow the survey statements were not properly used? Really! The statistical justifications for the survey statements are in the dissertation. He ignores what EFA clearly revealed. At this point, Dr. M. appears to be arguing simply to stall or, even worse, for the sake of arguing. He suggests that the EFA methodology cannot do what it does and claims that the survey question were not properly used? He cannot explain how the survey statements were improper and ignores how open system theory does exactly what he is criticizing. This is clear evidence that he does not understand the theoretic underpinnings of the research and how the methodology supports those underpinnings. His logic is circular here. EFA is very straight forward and for all practical purposes Chapter 4 is complete. It is worth noting that Chapter 5 draws things together and Dr. M. has said he will not review it.

So this is the substance and bulk of my comments. It is all explained in there in the document, please step back and realize why I am asking for this to be corrected. Else your research must stop on EFA.

Dr. M.

Dr. M. went very off track at this point and, as subsequent Forum dialogue and emails demonstrate, his ego becomes engaged and he tries to cover his inadequacy by going farther and farther off track leaving me no option but to request that he withdraw from my committee and that the University refund a quarter of tuition due to wasting my time. The university should not acquire profit in the manner exhibited by Dr. Makrigeorgis. Dr. Makrigeorgis is one example of how Walden University is not providing the services promised in the Ph. d. program. It is unacceptable to delay student progress in the manner exhibited by Dr. Makrigeorgis.

Additional Comments:

At one point in the dialogue, Dr. M. wanted my raw data claiming that it is public domain. Qualtrics proctored the research. They are used by virtually every university in the United States. Most of those universities provide use of Qualtrics at no charge. Walden does not and so I paid for the research from my income. The fact that Dr. M. made the claim of public domain when all copyright laws run contrary, raised a serious distrust of him. He knows that this topic has garnered some international interest and I am poised to publish much more. I recalled that he seemed upset when I published a book that did not include him as a co-author. He contributed nothing and I cannot imagine why he had the impression.

All along, I have been hoping that Dr. M. would engage his intellectual curiosity to support me in this topic but he has demonstrated opposition instead of support. I remember some of his earlier comments about my topic. On at least two occasions he commented that he didn’t think my research would find anything. He made that comment to both Dr. Shriner and Dr. Levasseur in phone conferences. In the face of obvious findings to the contrary, he refuses to recognize my work and is taking the path were he makes interpretive errors that lead to obfuscation.

Early in the quarter, Dr. M. took this into the Forum where he made broad, unsubstantiated statements about “serious errors” in my methodology. (I cannot recover that dialogue because Walden started my leave of absence prior to the end of the quarter and dropped me from the Forum. I will request that information later.) Note that he, Dr. Levasseur, and the URR approved the methodologies, I followed the approved methodology and the EFA approach outlined by prominent universities and scholars; and recapped those in Chapter 4. What remains to be done is to package the interpretation. This can be done without extraneous additional diversions; simply note how the research questions were answered and then follow through with an interpretation of how a gap in knowledge about my topic has been filled. Dr. M. clearly has something else in mind and I wasted this entire quarter and a fair portion of last quarter.

Therefore, I am requesting a refund of this quarter’s tuition to be applied to the remainder of this quarter’s tuition bill and the balance applied to Fall quarter during which I hope to finish my dissertation. I recognize that part of my student loan has been returned to the lending agency thereby leaving a bill of $2,493.

Moreover, please note that I asked for and received a 90 day leave of absence, one quarter. My assumption was that the leave would begin the Summer quarter. Why the university made the leave begin mid semester is a mystery that created logistical and financial issues and exacerbated the problem. Hopefully, this will not become more complicated as I intend to reenter the university in the Fall and complete the dissertation process.

Sincere regards,

Joe Haefner

Joseph Haefner, May 23, 2013, Menomonie, WI

I went to at the time Gwinnett Business College and when I was checking them out I specifically asked if they would help me find a job after words and they told me they would. That was back in Dec 2003 when I graduated and I have yet heard from them even after turning in a resume after graduation and I had all A's! I am 44 now and I had to quit my job three years ago to take care of my youngest son who has a mental disorder and I do not receive child support from the boys dad because he is in prison and I probably wont get it when he gets out either. I owe 12,000 for that school who lied to me. I do not think schools like that should be open.

Heidi Rogers, May 22, 2013, Monroe, GA

I am a recent grad from Harris School of Business and was not eligible to take state exams to further my goals because of my past non violent charges . If I would've known this was gona be a problem I would've got into something else to study now I'm stuck paying this debt with a dead end job not being able to help pay bills and sallie may calls me everyday for Thierry money that I can't afford because of not being able to take my license exam . I have all my paper work on denials and I even appealed and had numerous recommendations from my current employer and people who know me all my life. I made mistakes in the past and I tried turning it around by getting my GED while incarcerated after going to Harris school of business and graduating and being employed but my employer treats me as if I can't get another job any where else and really I can't so I have to deal with this situation because she knows I can't go any where else to work without being licensed . I love what I learned so I guess it's something I can do but I need help or relieve! Thank you yours truly Jose

Jose R.Gonzalez, May 22, 2013, Egg Harbor Township N.J

Upon release from Military service in 1972 I was contacted by a computer school in Miami with employment promises upon completion of their classes, nothing materialized.
Now 40 years later, my daughter went to state school in Tampa for her Masters Deg. and they changed her curriculum and gave her a obsolete degree to cover themselves which she has not been able to use for employment and is now $40,000 in debt which goes on me since my wife had to cosign for her loan and she is unable to pay due to lack of employment. In my opinion,none of these schools are worth paying for as they are not teaching what is needed.

Anonymous, May 21, 2013, Key West, FL

In receiving my BFA degree and MFA degree, I've racked up over $100,000 in student loan debt. Although I have been employed as a university adjunct professor since my graduation in 2005, I have never received health benefits, tax benefits (only K-12 receive tax breaks for teaching) and have defaulted on my student loans twice. My loans are nearly the amount of my rent, and the reason my husband and I rent as opposed to owning a home, is because of my poor credit in defaulting twice on my student loans.
I am so frustrated that the U.S. places so little value on higher education. In nearly every European country, higher education is either greatly subsidized, or free. Yet here in America, you can graduate with a Master's degree, become a college professor, yet remain too poor and underpaid to EVER repay your student loan debt.

Anonymous, May 21, 2013

I started my AA degree with the University of Phoenix at 46 years old. I finished through my BA and am currently in a PhD program for industrial-organizational psychology. I have mortgaged my life now with this entity because the fortune 500 company I work for will not take my education seriously and the management is bias. I have tried to work with their HR department to no avail. I realize that I must make a great effort to get into my new field, and have been applying without any response. The school did not transfer credits from other schools I attended like they promised. The counselors change all the time making it impossible to feel confident and standardized. The classroom environment is good, but the syllabus is usually inconsistent and the university library citation is questionable. The changes they made to the library for research is now nearly impossible to get decent information; authors, publications, news, etc. Complaints go to an abyss somewhere of unknown origin. I am trying to better my life and better corporate America with this degree, but will use my first job with higher wages to pay off student loans for the next 10 years. I have considered becoming a career student so I can die before I start receiving bills. I am deferred until I stop school. I just find this incredibly sad that my congress person is making millions, and has 100% salary and benefits when done and I get to pay that while I live on little and work like crazy. I have a 3.91 GPA along with work and teaching students how to play music. Making a living in the USA; it is not what you know it's who know. Statistics state this to be true. I can't claim bankruptcy on all the loans, and no one is going to forgive them. Other countries do not do this to their citizens. Shame on the USA!

Dean Hansen, May 20, 2013, Tracy, CA

I graduated from college with a Biology degree, no job and over $120,000 in debt. Those are only my private student loans. Sallie Mae has refused to work with me and now, they are going to eventually sue me to garnish my wages. Even in "Recovery" they are not able to offer me a payment plan that I can afford. I understand this is my debt but their interest that has capitalized is over half of my debt owed. I can't afford to have my wages garnished. We need help!! What's worse is that I had to have a co-signor who has threatened to sue me and is taking it upon himself to make payments. I am at a total loss and really don't know where to turn. The student loan debt isn't any different than the housing bubble that burst and caused all the reforms on housing and foreclosure. It is only a matter of time before our economy tanks again due to the student loan crisis. I will never be able to buy anything, a car or even a home. All I need is some hope.....I am just not sure where to find it.

Anonymous, May 17, 2013

I never qualified for financial aid. My parents made too much money, but the Financial Aid office never took into consideration that my father was not around and both of my parents were in a considerable amount of debt (credit card loans, 2nd mortgages, etc.). I had to take out the maximum amount on Federal loans and work 25+ hrs a week to pay my tuition fees and living expenses.

My Mother also took out Parent Plus loans which I send her monthly checks for now as she is on a limited income. They will not allow me to take her loans into my name a consolidate with my existing loans so I pay a total of $408/mth in loans and will be paying that for over 20 years. I've been paying them since 2008.

I find it really frusterating that the government is turning a HUGE profit on my education (I am a government employee as well) and they bail out corporations instead of bailing out middle class people like me; contributing members of society who would be able to invest more in our retirement, and put more money back into the economy if we didn't have these ridiculous loan payments.

Ashley, May 15, 2013, Yuma, AZ

Dear Congress, Mr. President:
My name is Joanna Leigh and I am 39 years old. I was raised by a single mom who worked full time and went to school at night, obtaining 2 Master's degrees. We have lived most frugally, and I have worked since I was 16 yrs old. I worked full-time through my B.A, my M.A in Psychology, and my Ph.D. I have never taken from the government, nor relied on a private bank loan until I switched my Ph.D. from International Psychology to International Development, and lost all my credits, forcing me to start over. I owe $36,000. Less then the cars you drive. However, in this economy, where I am apparently "overqualified" and with exorbitant interest accruing, it is spiraling out of control. The saddest part is that I have devoted my education and life's work to giving back to the society I never took from. I saw the egregious waste of the UN Millenium projects on poverty reduction, the catastrophic World Bank loan system, and the disastrous economic approaches to culturally based developmental problems. So I devoted my education and every bit of available income and energy to designing a new model of poverty reduction and putting it into action since 2006. I have never received a salary for my efforts. My health insurance does not cover my vaccines when I go to East Africa. I eat rice and beans every day, shop at thrift stores, use my grandmother's furniture, and live upstairs from my mom. My joy: the clinic we built in an isolated town services 13,000 people. The village banks we seed create micro-loan opportunities for hundreds- with 100% repayment rate. There is no price on seeing children educated, women learning their rights, the rates of HIV going down. I recently received a bill informing me I was to pay $900 a month in loans. It came the same day as my insurance denials for covering the numerous injuries I sustained in the Boston Marathon bombing. I am sending it back to you, members of Congress, Mr. President. For the following reasons: 1. I have never asked what my country can do for me, I have always asked what I can do for my country. I have never taken, only given. Even during the Boston Marathon bombing, when I was injured myself, only a few feet from the 2nd blast, I stayed and provided triage to two men who were injured far worse than I was. My health insurance is not covering the cost of my vision or hearing loss, skin treatments, or acute PTSD. And I would still stay and assist the wounded. Because I am THAT kind of American.
2. When a student enters a field that serves the public, particularly if she receives no compensation for it, she is making the world a better place. The salaries that tend to be paid at many non-profits are usually small. To require non-profit workers to repay loans is to essentially ensure people will not wish to become non-profit workers, as we will NEVER get out from the debt. As a society, we should want people to become workers for the greater good, particularly as our corporations and Congress are NOT doing their part to create and enforce measures that make our society healthier, safer, and more economically stable. I would have more sympathy for Congress if they didn't run off for "recess" like children in school leaving 12 bills on their desks. Or had they listened to the 90% of America who demands gun background checks, rather than the corporate interests who put money in their campaign coffers.
The time is NOW to start creating the kind of society we wish to live in, not only through our words but through our actions. I have done that in a dedicated and mindful way for my entire life. I am the American dream. So along with my Federal loan papers, which I will never be able to pay back as they spiral into the hundreds of thousands with interest, I will send on my medical bills accrued from the Boston Marathon bombing. As a special treat, I will also send on the leather boots I was wearing that day. I have been too traumatized to touch them; however, since you all make the decisions that affect our intelligence programs (ThinThread vs. Trailblazer), our healthcare, and our student loans, maybe you should see the consequences of your actions. They will arrive in a biohazard case as they have building debris, blood (not mine), and bits of flesh on them. One of the men I triaged lost his foot. It came off in my hand. I grew up understanding that our government was elected by the people, acted for the people, and served at the will of the people. I am wondering when a single one of you will be as good an American as I am?
Joanna Leigh, Ph.D.
Founder, Executive Director, Moyo International 501c3

Joanna Leigh, PhD, May 14, 2013, Boston, MA

I entered college when I was 17 years old.. did not know much about what I was getting myself into, financially. This was just what everyone did. Parents moved to the country to give their children a better life. My parents didnt go to college, they were hard workers. They were not educated on this. I just wanted to graduate as quickly as I can and go on to pursue my masters. But i became ill, and defaulted on a loan. Now I cannot sleep, I cannot eat, I have relational issues, I feel suicidal, I feel defeated. I am embarrassed because I see people who don't have a degree, who work at the mall or at McDonalds with NO debt. But they have nice cars, they are able to afford to pay their cell phone bill. They are able to live within THEIR MEANS. I have always judged those people before, but NOW I understand. I know someone with a MASTERS degree who works at MCDONALDS! YES!! The education system in America is all wrong. I feel suicidal, I want to end my life sometimes, but I realize that will not solve anything. They will go after my parents. I am just sad. I cry every night. Will I ever get married? Will I ever have children?? I am 24 years old now, still living at home, working 2 jobs (jobs that don't require 4 year degree) and i'm at about 80k debt. I want to return back to school, but I will have to pay out of pocket cash. I do not want this to be my life forever. I am considering enlisting in the military if I have to so my loans will be forgiven. I feel like a loser...with a bachelors degree. I will tell my children don't go to college. Live your life for a few years and support yourself. See how you like it. Save some money if you do choose to go to college. Get a scholarship. BUT NEVER TAKE OUT A LOAN!!!

JT, May 14, 2013

I was the first in my family to get a college education. My parents knew nothing about student loans and encouraged me to borrow what I needed to get my bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. I was never given any sort of financial counseling regarding the impact the amount I would owe would have on my financial future. I was encouraged by both institutions to borrow what I needed to get my education. Here I am, $100,000 later, owing more than a mortgage and unable to work due to caring for a special needs child. I will NOT let my children make these same mistakes, rest assured.

Laura, May 14, 2013, IL

I went to a private 4 year college at the cost of $48,000. I graduated in 1997 with $32,000 in debt. I did struggle in the beginning with paying my loans and did take a few forbearances along the way. I also started a family and bought a home. Struggles ensued through the years with some more forbearances and the recession. I still have $ $9,600 in debt which is scheduled to be paid off in 4.5 years. I'll be 53 with 2 kids at home. One startling college the other starting her junior year of high school. We are praying they get scholarships.

Steve, May 10, 2013, Michigan

My husband and I wanted our children to get the education that we were not able to have, so we were pleased when school advisers told us that we could get PLUS loans. Our son was healthy and finished his university education with good grades... then he grew too ill to work, and has been home ever since, unable unable to help pay the loan, as was planned, and we are covering his basic living expenses as well. He is constantly on the verge of depression. We cannot set him up in better circumstances because we are paying $700 a month in school loans... which is mostly interest!!! Because we were already strapped, we choose not get a loan for our other son. So now he is uneducated and unemployed, with no future. My husband and I both work. My wages are small and I have no way to beef them up, although I am trying. My husband's health is suffering and he is unsure how long he can continue working as he is. We trapped... by trying to take better care of our family we fell into a deeper hole with no escape. We have nearly 30 years of payments left... a life sentence for us, and crippling for our kids. If the ridiculously high interest rates were lowered, and we knew that the remainder of the loans would be forgiven eventually, at least we could have some hope.

Anonymous, May 9, 2013

In order to fulfill my dream to teach online college courses as my next career - I began my BA journey in November 2008. By the end of this year I will have both a BA in Organizational Management and a MAEd in Higher Education. Did I mention I'll have graduated with both degrees Summa Cum Laude? Did I mention I'll be 60 years old when I receive my MAEd? Instead of being able to thrive and survive in a new teaching career in 2014 - I'll be burdened with student loan payments with 6+% rates. The government moved heaven and earth to save the banking industry because they messed up the first American Dream: buying a home. Now we have to collaborate to rescue the second American dream: a college education. We're not asking to wipe out the debt for us - we're asking for a financial repayment interest rate lock so we have a fair chance to clear our debt while sustaining our lifestyle - not sacrificing everything we've worked so hard to build.

Anonymous, May 9, 2013, Longmont, CO

I received student loans through both my bacehlor's and master's in education at the age of 18. Being the first in my family to go to oollege, I depended on the school representatives to guide me through the process. Boy was that a mistake. I received checks each semester that they insisted was my money to use to buy books and live... I know know that those were excess funds didn't need for my education and should have been advised to send them back to the lender, but no one told me that then. I was never told that there was a maximum amount of loans you could receive through the federal government and thought that all but a few of my loans were federal... boy was I wrong. I now have a total of $225,000 in student debt, the majority of which is through private loans which are not required to assist students the way federal loans do. I am out of deferment and forbearance time as being a teacher in an inner-city school district didn’t provide me with the funds necessary to pay them back. I am now expected to start making $430 payments in June and have no idea how I am going to do it as I am lucky to have grocery money after all my bills are paid. I have been losing sleep over this and spend a lot of time crying because I am beyond stressed by this situation. Something needs to be done for those of us who were misadvised and misled!

Jennifer Schott, May 8, 2013, Phoenix. AZ

My sister is mentally disabled. Back in 1981 her father got her a loan so she could try college. It didn't work out because she's disabled. Unable to get a sustainable job because of her disablity she is unable to pay the loan. Because the loan is through the state of New York or through the government they won't dismiss it even though we have told them again and again that she is mentally disabled and sent proof. We finally gave up and let them garnish the little amount of money she made from a part time job for disabled people. Finally due to knee problems and migraine she's had to stop working and collects SSI (which they can't touch). She had gotten this loan in 1981. Isn't it time they see that she can't afford to repay this loan which they have held against a disabled woman FOR 30 YEARS!!!!

Theodora, May 7, 2013

I am writing concerning my loan through Sallie Mae; this account is a Spousal Consolidation loan with my ex-husband. As you may know, From January 1, 1993 to June 30, 2006, married borrowers could consolidate their federal loans together into a single loan. This loan was referred to as a joint consolidation loan. Each borrower assumed full responsibility for repaying the joint consolidation loan. The statutory language concerning joint consolidation loans was added by the Higher Education Amendments of 1992. Unfortunately, there was no provision in this legislation for splitting a joint consolidation loan when the borrowers got divorced. Thus joint consolidation loans became a tie that binds beyond divorce. If one ex-spouse failed to make his or her share of the joint payment, the other ex-spouse would be forced to make the full payment or risk ruining the credit scores of both borrowers by defaulting on the joint loan. To prevent more borrowers from experiencing this problem, the provision for joint consolidation loans was repealed by the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005). Unfortunately, there are still some borrowers who have joint consolidation loans. Congress did not provide any solutions for borrowers who are stuck with a joint consolidation loan. As a result, myself and others, have inherited nothing short of a nightmare. My loan with my ex-husband has accrued well over $225K just in interest and fees. Dealing with Sallie Mae has been nothing short of a nightmare. My ex-husband has been unemployed three times since graduation. For years before the Income Based Repayment came into play we took high interest forbearances while he was unemployed/underemployed because it was the only way to address the high loan payment on a single income. Forms get rejected for "missing data" despite the fact that everything is filled out completely. Often we have to submit the same forms 3 and 4 times before they get processed. I have come to the conclusion this is done to charge more interest and fees.

Dallas Benson, May 7, 2013

I'm speaking for what I've seen with my daughter. Short facts: The private institutions do not supply the contracted interest rate until after you have signed, contracted and received the check. The compounded interest is ridiculous as the rates are as high as 9 and 11%. When requesting to consolidate the rate was 8% with a cap of 11%. My daughter wants to pay her full contracted loan amount but as a new graduate with an entry level salary it would be much easier or even realistic with a 2.5% to 4% interest rate. Even her government loans are as high as 6.8%. In today's market, the cost of higher education needs to be contained and we need to make it more affordable for all, whether it be controlling the high cost or providing better pay back options.
Also, my daughter called one private lender and requested a lower interest rate based on her salary, the response was that they could not negotiate on the contracted interest rate and suggested that if she couldn't pay the required monthly payment she would have to default on her loan.

Angela Pindel, May 7, 2013, Illinois

I come from small town USA, population 250 or something close to that. I've always aspired for bigger and better things. I took a very unique route with my grade 7-12 education, homeschooling myself for the majority of those years. Immediately after getting my high school diploma (a day after I turned 16), I started working retail. Boy did that suck. I worked retail about a year and I decided I'd had enough. I have always been passionate about music and business so it was a no brainier for me, I needed to go to Full Sail. I obviously didn't come from money so private loans were pretty much my only hope. I had to borrow nearly $110,000 in private loans and my monthly payments are now nearly $1200, and that's not counting my federal loans, which are almost paid off (were only a few thousand dollars). What's sad about this picture is that $110k will compound and turn into almost $400,000 by Sallie Mae's projected pay off date. This led me to the realization that student loans were designed to keep us indebted to the system. Let young people borrow large amounts of money for an education that could otherwise be obtained for FREE on the internet (self research, self study, just like my homeschooling from grades 7-12). I am now forever indebted to the system, still living on ramen noodles and trying to build a successful business on my own with no help. I can't take out more loans because the student loan debt destroyed my credit rating... I have no one to help me take make it financially possible. I understand, it was my choice to go to college, I didn't have to go. But if I hadn't, I would have never left small town USA and I would have never been in an environment where my skills and talents are in high demand. My student loan debt has perpetuated into more financial problems in other areas of my life. Although I was immediately employed after graduating from college, I have been living paycheck to paycheck with student loans that take up over a third of my monthly income. I was unable to pay the IRS (as I was a 1099 sub contractor), so now I owe the IRS about $40,000 that I can't afford to pay them. The hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I'm still fighting to get above the water but it feels like there's no end in sight. It seems our government takes care of people who can't help themselves (EBT, welfare, minority grants, etc) and screws people who are actually productive and actively contributing to society. It should be the other way around, the active and productive people should get the assistance they need and the counter productive leaches should get NOTHING. This is just my story, I'm sure it resonates with many others. I hope we are able to make way with the student loan forgiveness act, but doesn't seem like it's going to happen any time soon.

Justin Smith, May 6, 2013, Orlando, Florida

I borrowed original principle of 81,000 for a bachelor's and master's degree, and now owe 121,000 due to capitalizing interest due to a series of forbearance and deferments. I felt I had no real choice but to go to college being a divorced mother of two, with a disabled child, no child support, a car that broke down every time I turned around, very limited family support,and working for $7 per hour as a secretary. I did the best I could with what I had to work with, trying to do the right thing. Seems what I thought was the right thing -was wrong after-all because my student loan debt will outlive me. Given this, I have decided I will pay what I can to stay out of default; otherwise, I see no sense in throwing good money after bad as the student loan debt will stand regardless until they throw dirt onto my coffin. I have had this crazy idea that college should be affordable to all who want to go, that it would be better for all (myself, my children, and society) not to be "welfare witch" or to otherwise live in poverty as opposed to being a contributing, productive member of society. Shame on me for my stupidity. The US student loan system with all its predatory practices can kiss my a**. I'm done with it and refuse to worry anymore with it.

Donna, May 5, 2013

I was the first in my family to go to college. My teachers, guidance counselor, friends and relatives were all urging me to follow my dreams. The cost didn't seem to matter because no one bothered educating me about student loans. I was guided to a for-profit school that made lavish promises I didn't realize were too good to be true.

I didn't know the difference between federal and private student loans, nor did my father who urged me to keep going, as if cost did not matter. The Art Institutes financial aid department guided me towards private loans before I even touched federal loans. I also didn't know they were gaining interest while I was attending.

AI conveniently didn't include housing and supplies in their $56,000 cost of attendance figure they gave me when I signed up. I ended up taking out about $79,000 for my degree. My student loans paid for tuition, housing, books and supplies. I didn't drink or party or go vacation somewhere exotic on Spring break. I didn't use the money to purchase expensive cars or electronics. I worked part-time all throughout my attendance and paid for food and transportation on my own. I also received about $17,000 in grants and scholarships.

When lured in to the school, I was expecting to make $50,000 in my field. Just before graduation they give you the real figures. Previous graduates were making less than $27,000 annually. It was a shock to everyone in my area of study. How were we going to pay our $60,000+ student loans back on that salary?

Six months after graduating, still jobless, I entered repayment. That $17,000 I gained in scholarships and grants was flushed down the toilet as that was the same amount of interest that was capitalized, making my total student loan debt $96,000.

I graduated in 2009 and aside from a few freelance gigs and "work for free to gain experience" opportunities that AI urged me to do, I haven't worked in my field. I've paid about $13,000 on my loans and still owe $95,890. Sticking to Sallie Mae's payment plan will have me paying more than triple what I originally borrowed!

Going to college uneducated about student loans was the biggest mistake of my life!

Kasey, May 5, 2013, Chesapeake, VA

I lived in WI all my life except for college. Now, my wife and I live in KCMO! I did not do the suvey because I thought you might have one for KC. I will tell you yes SL's are way out of wack. Long story short, btwn my wife and I we borrowed $26,000. I made $5-6/hr. first 6 years out of college, while I had to pay for rent, childcare, and expenses. By the time I got a job paying a "living wage" (barely), the loan interest was way out of control and my good job was threatened by debt collectors threatening to send the sheriff to my work, calling my work, and intimidation such as "welfare mothers pay more than you!"
Well, we filed a chapter 13 to (freeze interest), reorganize and be "responsible" by paying a little to our creditors each month for 5 years while trying to get established financially. I could have done a chapter 20 to wipe the debt at that time, but I was trying to do the honorable thing. At the end of our bankruptcy, we were hit with $12,000 in fees and interest on top of the student loans. The lawyer said some judge decided one year before that SL interest could no longer be frozen and there was no grandfathering. The SL people made it impossible to pay the people we wanted to pay back, including themselves. It's been out of control hell ever since. You can't reason with student loans. We have always driven older cars, taken very few vacations, and could do little for the economy, despite making what would be a "living wage," while making TWO MORTGAGE/RENT PAYMENTS (I call the SL's a life mortgage payment.
You got me going. So much for short story. This has been a nagging burden on my family for the 29 years since college. We have paid at least $40,000 (they refuse to give us accurate records the loans have been sold so many times!!!) and owe over $70,000 today. I have been unemployed since Oct, so unable to pay, so all the payment in the last several years pretty much for nothing as interest accrues again. If nothing changes, SL's-'til death do us part!!
I started doing research for a book on SL stories several years ago, and stopped, then Allen C's book came out!
God help us, thanks for listening, Kevin

K M L, May 5, 2013, KC MO

After reviewing other testimonials here, I'm almost ashamed to comment. But the essence of the issue is what I'm moved to address. The current policies are hurting the very people who are attempting to better themselves and in turn better our society. I am sickened by the "gaming" of what should be a noble and honorable undertaking. Compared to many of the heartbreaking stories I've read here, my situation seems mild, but the principles behind the penalties are sickening to me and I'd like to share my feelings.
In my case, I'd been making regular payments but decided to take evening classes in order to qualify for taking the CPA exam. The classes were expensive, but rather than incur further debt, I chose to put my existing loans into forbearance and once I'd passed the CPA exam, I'd restart payments with a predictably higher salary. During this period I received lots of promotional mail from my lender offering credit cards and other financial services. I foolishly presumed that it was all promotional and missed the end date of my forbearance which pushed me into default. Apparently I'd gone 2 months not knowing I was in default. That 2 months cost me $11,000.00 because of the Department of Education's rule for "Collectors fees" where a minimum of 16.58% of the outstanding balance is charged for the "privilege" to resume payments. To me this is a bold "gaming" of the desire to restore one's credit and to do so, an egregious fee is assessed. I haven't passed the exam yet and I'd like to study more, but in order to make minimum payments, pay rent, and cover the cost of living a frugal life, I must work as much as possible.
I'm very grateful that I can work and that I am employed, but the spirit of this policy is wrong in my opinion. I understand if compliance has been an issue with borrowers, measures need to be taken--however, penalizing someone who is trying to correct their situation doesn't make sense and certainly doesn't incentivize the borrower. If the penalty was removed with regular payments, I could understand, but this is just kicking a downed person when they're trying to reconcile a bad situation. I just wish we had some recourse.

Anonymous, May 5, 2013, Anchorage,AK

My husband has aquired nearly $100,000.00 in student debt,which may not be a lot compared to others but for me we will be paying this off for probably the rest of my life ( I'm 62). He is currently enrolled in a program to become a registered nurse financing it with student loans. Hopefully with this degree he will be able to find a job. He holds a bachelors degree in information technology and business management. Thanks to the economy he has not been able to find employment utilizing either of these degrees. His loan payment will probably be $500 to $600, which will severely impact our cash flow. What ever increase in income he attains will be eaten up by the loan debt. Our buying power will stay the same or even decrease! I hope through your efforts something will change. Thankyou for the opportunity to tell our story!

gracie heer, May 4, 2013

It was not until I began graduate school that I received financial aid. As a displaced/single parent, licensed teacher, I came to university for advice. Teachers were being laid off: I wanted to be marketable. New to the city, separated from my husband, away from family; 2 small children: I went to the University for advice. No one said work and go to school part time. All they did was tell me that there were few grants for an MA: I would need loans and work study. I worked at work study, carrying maximum hours, with classes at night. I got Federal loans. Later, I realized that I could have taught school, aned gone to school part time. A program was also available specifically for teachers, to allow you to teach and take classes alternately...NO one told me until it waws too late. If I had known, I would never have borrowed money! All the financial aid office did was show you how to fill in the paperwork. I ended up with $14,000 in loans. I went to teach in inner city schools. After a couple of years, I converted my loans to Sallie Mae, because, on a salary of $11,000 (1988) I couldn't afford my payments. NO ONE TOLD ME THAT TEACHING IN POVERTY PROGRAM SCHOOLS WOULD REDUCE MY LOANS BY 15% EACH YEAR UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE: I HAD ALREADY CONVERTED MY LOAN! One loan of a $1000 still qualified, but it had only a balance of $300 left, when they did me the BIG FAVOR of canceling the balance. Later, when refinancing my $58,000 fixer-upper house, they added in my school loan. I now realize that it will never be paid off....until my house is paid off! The way these programs are set up is criminal: there should be truth in lending with these, as with other loans, forcing students and administrators to take a workshop on the pros and cons of a student loan.

anonymous, May 3, 2013

I borrowed money to attend law school, so I could support my wife and three children. I borrowed approximately 67,000 at the time, which was double the tuition as I needed to provide for my family while attending school. At the time I did not realize and it was not explained to me that the interest rate of 8% would be substantial and that the debt would chase me my entire life. After graduating school, I obtained employment, but the salary was too low to make the 800 plus monthly payments and provide for my family. So, I consolidated the loans. I ended up defaulting on the consolidated loan, as I had a choice to provide for my children or pay the debt. Sadly, divorce played a role. In 2000, after opening my own law practice I attempted to pay the debt. The Department of Education (DOE) collection agents would not provide me with a correct accounting and attempted to defraud me by asserting I owed over 225k. I was prevented from making arrangements to pay the debt by their abusive collection tactics. Then, in 2011, the DOE, after waiting 11 years (presumably so the interest would bloom) I was sued by the DOE for the 20 year old debt. I was soon shocked to learn there is no statute of limitations for this debt and that there is no bankruptcy protection. Naively, still believing in our judicial system, and being a lawyer with skill, I answered the complaint and asserted the real defenses of misrepresentation, estoppel, prevention of performance. Thereafter, I sought discovery from the DOE concerning their collection agents activities. They objected asserting it would be too burdensome to produce the numerous records. Through a procedural stroke of luck, I managed to prod the magistrate judge to order their production. Thereafter, the DOE finally admitted they had no records, that the file was purged in 2008, although previously indicating it would be too burdensome, and that they could not refute my evidence of their collectors abusive tactics. I then filed a motion for summary adjudication, to limit any accrual of interest from 2000- the point in which I was prevented from repaying the admitted principal debt. The DOE filed their own motion for summary judgment, seeking 200k. Despite the fact I had all the evidence, and the DOE admittedly could not refute it- the Court ruled against me in favor of the DOE. Early on in the case at a prior case management hearing, in which I was ordered to attend in S.F, although I live 6 hours north, the Magistrate made it clear how this worked, "sovereign immunity", she said, calling it, "high minded advice". In the hall outside of the Court's chambers, I turned to the DOE's attorney and said, "this is a stacked deck- this is not justice and you know it". His smug reply, "Pretty much." So, here I am..., future unknown, very weary if not wiser- there is no justice in federal court, from a federal judge, when the federal government comes looking for money. Sovereign immunity, Wow! The King reigns supreme above the law. Oh, they want my house- Another tax paying business about to close. All I wanted to do was support a family and be a legitimate contributor to society; heck I even offered to pay back the 67k with reasonable interest, over time (payments over next 15 years)- Not good enough they want 200k. But I don't have it. I have no assets and make approximately 45k a year. I would like to file an appeal, but this has taken its toll- emotionally and economically, I cannot sustain the fight alone.

Paul J. Warner, Esq., May 3, 2013, Arcata, CA


I put myself through college – online – full time – while working full time. I chose University of Phoenix because it was something I could do while working – because I travel all over the US for my company, AMTRAK. I began classes when I was 54 years old. I had been told that without a degree I couldn’t go any higher in my career. I graduated in 2008 with a 3.97 GPA. I have a B>S> in Information Systems/Visual Communications. I worked very hard and was very proud of myself – even went to Phoenix for graduation accompanied by 3 of my closest friends. Once I graduated I did get a much deserved promotion and pay raise without which I wouldn’t have been able to even begin to pay off my loans. Unfortunately I now make too much money to be able to deduct my student loan interest. WHAT THE HECK IS UP WITH THAT? REALLY? I make too much? I live paycheck to paycheck!

I am single (divorced), own a home, pay a mortgage, pay a car loan, have credit card debt (even charged a few classes that weren’t covered by loans), and I can’t deduct the interest on my education loan? That is so sad. Apparently being single means I’m not a head of household either which could have helped me a tiny bit. But no, I’m just a hard working American who felt that a lifelong dream of getting an education was worth the expense. And now I’m drowning in debt. Some months it’s the gas/electric bill or groceries. I can't afford deferments so i pay what I can when I can and have almost caught up from time to time! If I were a wealthy person maybe I could pay someone to find those incredible loopholes that exist so the wealthy don’t have to pay near what I pay in taxes. But alas I am a middle class person (and proud of it). I’m not asking for debt forgiveness. I’m asking that a bona-fide and worthwhile expense – an education – and the INTEREST I’m paying on that debt, should be an allowable deduction on my income tax. I’m ashamed of the US policy on education.

Rae, May 3, 2013, Abington, PA

A local tragedy! Southern California community college tops 26% cohort default rate.

In viewing some statistics regarding student debt (my preferred term to student loan) figures, I was shocked to see a Southern California community college with a rate of 26.5% of those students in repay as also being in default.

This cohort default rate is troublesome for several reasons: 1) it is a community college, where attendance is advertised with low costs; 2) the community college student is typically a lower-income individual who looks at education as a pathway to better careers, employment, and life; and 3) the rural location of this community college puts an additional burden on students with debt by being in a location with poor employment possibilities.

What is the message that higher education is intended to give people wishing for a better life? Is it that education will improve one’s life and career prospects, or is it a reality that education is a very likely path to financial disaster?

There is a better time and a better place to have a lengthy debate on this issue, which has gained some national attention. However, as leaders in higher education, is there any greater issue that jeopardizes higher education than students debt?

According to Charles Blow of the NY Times, students are taking on staggering levels of debt for an education, only to find themselves unable to land jobs that pay enough to repay the loans. A Pew Research Center report found that 1 in 5 households now owe student loan debt, and perhaps not surprisingly, the relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum. (With my knowledge of this Southern California community college, I suspect most students attending this college to be in this low-income spectrum.)

A friend of mine, a career MedChemist in Big Pharmy and higher education for over 40 years, recently questioned when it would be that we as a society realized that higher education just may not be the best path towards career success…and the entire higher education system of the U.S. is going to crash hard.

Whatever your opinion of this, whatever the cause, whomever is to blame, one thing we can agree on is, to quote Blow, “this is not going to end well.”

How say you?

Steve Vodhanel, May 3, 2013, Southern California

I moved to the west coast in 2003 and had already completed almost 2yrs of my bachelor’s degree but was still undecided what I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to have had family assistance during that time but rather than waste their money and my time I chose to live life and figure out where I wanted to go before continuing my education. When I moved to California from the east coast back in 2003, I made the decision that after gaining residency I would go back to school and finish my degree as I was finding it hard to gain employment that would pay well enough for me to live in the state I was in without that piece of paper. Over the following 8 years I was gainfully employed by a large bank as an Administrative Assistant (this was the only work I could find with decent pay considering my lack of degree.) During my time with the bank I decided to go back to school and work full time but I had limited options of colleges nearby where I could work my 40hrs/week to pay my bills and then go to school in the evenings/weekends. The school I chose was private which I knew would be more expensive but it was the program and location that solidified my decision. It was a wonderful experience and education but the loans were pretty extensive for only a 2 year program to which I earned my BS in Business Management. What should have been approximately $70,000 for two years ended up being almost double after I graduated and started paying them back. I deferred my loans for the 6 months allowed once I graduated and although my degree was a huge accomplishment it did nothing for me at the bank where I had given 8yrs of my life to. So now I had the same career with the same pay (approx $60K, which by most standards is decent money but not if you live near the coast in California) and now I had double my income in loans to pay off. So there I was, 33yrs old, with a great degree, a somewhat decent job and a huge amount of debt on my shoulders. The housing market crashed and now it is nearly impossible to get a loan for a home but who could afford it, I am paying almost $1300/mth just to my student loans, it is a mortgage in itself. Let alone how am I supposed to save up 20% of a mortgage in a state where the average cost of a home is over $500K (in and around Los Angeles) My student loans were about a 60/40 split between Private and Federal funding. At the end of 2010 I was laid off from the bank, unfortunate but I was ready to make a change in my career anyway. My only issue would be getting my loans put on hold til’ I found a new job. Wanting to keep my credit in good standing since at this point I had been paying my loans for almost 4yrs without one missed payment I called all of my student lenders immediately trying to figure out if I could defer them or lower payments while I look for new employment, considering I was only receiving unemployment at this time which if you have taken unemployment you would know it barely the covers the basics and definitely doesn’t cover a $1300/month student loan structure. In this process I learned a lot, what was out there for me in terms of help and what was not. Both my private and federal loans offered min deferrment and made it clear that 1. it would cost me to do so, making my interest higher and eventually my payments and 2. this was the only time they would offer this to me. Lucky for me I found a new job with a little bit higher of a salary 4 months after I was laid off. Yay for me right.....well so I thought until I was laid off for a second time only 8 months later. At this point the economy wasn't any better and this time around finding a job was much harder. I ending up spending a full year searching for new employment and was unable to pay my student loans again on the unemployment wages. So once again, I reached out to my lenders immediately to figure out a plan thinking with how many are unemployed there had to be some kind of relief in this situation. I was so wrong, this time the response was defeating, in short they told me the were sorry but I have no more deferment time left and there is nothing they can offer me. I asked how at this time with the economy the way it was why was there nothing in place for those who were unemployed, the response I got was, we don’t know ma'am but hopefully something will happen the meantime can you make a payment. HELLLO!!! Did I not just say I lost my job, on what planet do you think I will pay Sallie Mae before I pay my rent and car and food!!?!?! I did continue to pay on my student loans as long as I could which eventually depleted my savings within a few months and I spent many phone calls trying to make some kind of arrangement until I could pay them back, but same response and still zero help from Sallie Mae or American Education Services (AES) it was either pay or don't I eventually had to stop paying. After making every $1300 payment for the last 5 years and it taking every last extra dollar I earned I now had to suffer the consequences of default and my credit is now ruined, not to mention the ridiculous phone calls at all hours of the night/weekends being threatened for payment and they even started calling my friends to track me down, no idea how that was even done. After 5 months of no payments guess what letter I received from Sallie Mae, "hi there, please call us so we can set you up on a plan to get you back on track, we have a special program available to you" where was this f'ing plan when I was trying so hard to not have to be in this position. By the way the plan is that I am now paying a debt collector who will not report to the credit bureaus until the balance is paid off (mind you each of my loans are $20K, $40K, $45K, etc...) so basically my credit will continue to look as though I am in default until I magically come up with the balance or die....whatever comes first.

The government has made all kinds of provisions to students who become teachers, doctors, lawyers or any govt service employee but there is zero out there for the millions of other employed Americans in fincance, retail, etc. I think its great that the govt is trying to do anything, but they need to take a hard look at what is out there, private lending is NECESSARY now as a secondary means because federal loans only cover a percentage of school expenses yet the interest rates are out of control. I have tried to consolidate my loans but there is nothing out there that allows you to combine your private with your federal loans, even my two private loans refuse to consolidate and they are with the same lender!!! Paying $1300 / month for education loans is absurd, most americans don't even make that much money in a month.

All in all the mass amount of students who have graduated in the last 5yrs either with a bachelor or graduate degree are carrying student loan debt in excess of $50K a person and these are the citizens who are supposed to be starting families, buying homes, re-building our economy by replenishing the cash flow back into the system, but every grad I know is putting their hard earned money right back into loans and are living in rentals and spending more nights in for dinner and less time out and about giving very little to resurgence of our local communities and our economy.

I am lucky I did find a good job after my degree was earned and I do make a decent salary but after my rent is paid, my student loans are paid, my utilities, my car payment, car insurance, the one or two small credit cards I have and then food and gas, I have very little left over for me to enjoy which almost always goes to some unforeseen expense. The American dream is lost on me and I think I speak for most who are in the same boat, when is this going to stop. The government needs to pay attention because those 20-30 somethings who should be making this country strong and investing back into it are unable to do so due to the Student Loan Crisis that is about to burst like its 2007 all over again!!

Jill, May 2, 2013, Los Angeles, CA

I am from a background of domestic abuse, a refugee from a household tormented by an undetained rapist and assault predator. At 14, I was homeless, kicked out by a single mother severely mentally ill due to the head injuries inflicted during the multiple rapes. As prescribed medications only worsened her symptoms, she self-mediated with drugs. Every day was a battle. But I fought - and my "home" away from home became school, academics, arts. Every day I worked hard, to pay my own bills (as a teenager), sleeping less than twelve hours a week to juggle jobs with school and resume building activities that would promote by eligibility for scholarships. I earned a 4-year renewable scholarship to any college in the US. I escaped. But it wasn't long before I realized that the scholarships and grants alone weren't enough, and that I was also struggling deeply with ptsd. Afraid of being medicated (because of how the drugs affected my mother), I isolated myself and tried to heal alone. Long story short, I lost 3 years of my scholarship battling ptsd and searching for something I could do professionally - and be functionally successful while dealing with ptsd. I eventually wound up taking out loans. Yes, loans. I was pretty much discriminated against in my department because I was so different - but also because i was gifted. In both the undergraduate and graduate programs, my work received national and international recognition, but the departments felt threatened by my work (obviously strong, motivated still by my background and desire to overcome it). They only gave scholarships to the students who were upper-middle class culture. I worked harder trying to make my qualifications stand out, but it only politically worked against me. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Due to that, and the fact that my own emotional illness limited my career options, I had to find alternative ways to survive. I wound up changing fields to a graduate program, out-of-state, and that one required loans too. Long story short, I am gainfully employed, but due to the recession my salary is barely a living. Though the job is the best job for me given my emotional ptsd related issues I am still working through. I am hoping that The Student Loan FAIRNESS Act of 2013 passes, because I am a statistic. Most statistics like me fall through the cracks. But I am not that. I found a way through the struggle to make something of my life, but my debt is not just a reflection of my choice to take it on to escape a life with no opportunity in it. It is a reflection of systematic failures all of my life that forced me into that postion - the systematic failure of the police to detain the predator who harassed my family and brought lifelong trauma to our household; the failure of the health care system to treat mental illness properly; the failure of the college to provide resources and information to freshman about first-generation adjustments; the failure of the faculty who discriminated against me because I was different; and lastly because i was forced to be "full-time" to get grants, and i had to work a p/t job STILL (with the loans) to even come close to surviving, i never had time to find outside grants and scholarships. THIS is the FAULT of the SYSTEM. Not me.

I am a victim. A person who was part of a vulnerable population, made so by the failures of systems who did nothing when help was needed, and who bullied and berated a victim suffering from ptsd instead of help. Fortunately for me, i had good individuals in my life (friends, teachers, community members) who believed in me and encouraged me to try. I gave everything, but where I am today is lifelong debt as the expense of me pursuing a better life for myself and my future children. I deserve better - we deserve better. Don't we?

So SIGN this petition!! Make a difference. :)

Anonymous, May 2, 2013

I was first given a student loan when I was 20. I didn't understand the impact student loans would have on my life, and I didn't understand what signing for that loan meant at the time. I was in community college for several years. I moved around a lot following that, and didn't hear anything about my student loans. Later I applied at UC Berkeley and was accepted. They gave me a financial aid package that included student loans, and somehow all my student loans went into deferment at that time. By the time I graduated I was 30. I couldn't make the loan payments due to the fact that they'd accrued so much interest by that point, so I deferred them again - always thinking that in the future (due to my fabulous education) I would at some point be able to make payments. A few years later I went into default, but then managed to get them consolidated and out of default. I knew I had to do something else... and higher education means higher income... so in 2004, it was back to graduate school!. And loans in educational deferment while I had to take further loans to fund my graduate education - as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Fast forward 2007- I was an intern for four years. These jobs don't pay much of anything, so I was in deferment once again. 2013 - taking my licensing exam to be a therapist (finally)!!! But my student loan debt is over 100K, I will be 50 years old next year, and my payments will be higher than my rent!! I'm really thinking about finding a way to move out of the country to escape them, because at this point I can't imagine ever making enough money to pay my regular day to day expenses AND my student loans, and because.... I have no intention of spending the rest of my life paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education that earns me median income at best, and really cost me only a fraction of what I would be paying back! I'm at a loss about what to do. I suffer from depression and from a sense of fear about the future. I can't escape and I can't move forward. I don't want to get involved in a committed relationship, because I don't want to have to tell that person - hey, by the way, I have about 150K debt that isn't going away! *sigh* There you have it.

Deana, April 30, 2013

I'm a working class girl from a working class family. I worked my way through college with no loans. Then someone suggested I go to law school in 1990. When I got there, there were all kinds of loans available - they couldn't wait to give me their money and I was urged to 'take out more than you think you need'...with promises of the big lawyer salary I will one day get as a justification for not worrying about paying it off.
I unexpectedly had to leave law school in my last year for personal reasons, and when I finally was in a personal place to return to finish my degree my deadline had expired. I went to NYC in 1997 and started working as a legal secretary to engage in the NY apprentice program..I did that for a few years and took the bar in 2000. At some point, I worked with Dept of Ed to get my loans in repayment...although the payments were always more than I could afford on a legal secretary salary. I could not keep up, it was either that or the rent/food.

I didn't get admitted to the bar, so started working as an executive assistant and tried to make payments - but when I got laid off after 9/11 I had to go to forbearance (or whatever its called). In 2002 I realized that somebody got a judgment against me for the private student loans - I was never notified or allowed to defend myself. I hear its called "gutter service". I began being stalked by the collector (an attorney).
In 2004 I was forced to file bankruptcy, I couldn't find another job. I was told by the bankruptcy attorney that the judgment would be discharged according to the hearings we were having.
I worked temporary jobs just to keep a roof over my head until a permanent job in a law firm came in 07. Immediately, I was contacted to begin making payments -- the amount of which was far too much for me to afford. I tried my best to make payments. Then the economy the end of 08 and into 09, my firm had laid off over 1000 people. in 09 I was laid off yet again. I put the loans back into forbearance, but this time I lost my apartment and moved around and around. Apparently they slid into default...all I could focus on was finding another job and a roof over my head. in 2010 I found a job and worked for a year, trying to catch up on everything else. Then in 2011, I was hit in a car accident and injured and unable to work. I spent 2012 in rehab...and live every day in pain. I have been uprooted, moved from place to place and life is generally sucky.
Then...CONSERVE came calling. A collection agency apparently hired by the Dept. of Education. They found my private cellphone number from a random webpage I had made years ago...and began the campaign of stalking me - calling day and night weekdays and weekends.
THEN...they found me on facebook...and somehow got the name of some friends and started calling...they called a woman I had just met two weeks ago who was a very successful business owner who I had just friended (in my quest to network and find a job).... and I was mortified when she told me they called looking for me, asking all kinds of questions about me. Clearly she knew it was a collection agency, I the embarrasment I cannot tell you.

I spoke with a lawyer who said this is all ILLEGAL activity...and she recorded the call when I called them back...I was verbally manhandled by a man who tried to strong arm me into making payment arrangements...I laughed in his face. I'm broke, essentially homeless and don't even have a bank account. I have had to erase whatever is online about me, disable my facebook...and I live in fear now of being stalked.
How is this the American Dream? How is this right? My original 70K is now 150K because of the exhorbitant interest rates charged. the fact that I have even tried to be a taxpaying citizen and work should give me some kind of ability to forgive these loans. My government should give me loans Interest free...better yet: educate those of us for free who WANT to be productive in the workplace. My life is a living hell. A burden I cannot get out from under...I am 50 and I will never see a day of peace or get to zero. I wish I knew then what I know now...I would never even try to better myself and take those loans. Its sad when your only salvation is the hope that you marry a man with enough money to pay them off for you, cuz a single person doesn't stand a chance. There has to be a way so we don't have to contemplate suicide or becoming an expatriate to live a peaceful life free from the burden of this debt. I tried....that should count for something.

Anonymous, April 30, 2013

I have federal and private loans the federal loans the government has worked with me. The private loans have caused me headache after headache. I owe 180000 in private loans and on disibility making 1360 a month I have been bankrupt and still owe money, no job ,no credit and even homeless ball over this private loan and loan company does not care when I said my loan was not a qualified student loan under the law they changed my status for a third time and ruined my credit again this was also 3rd time. I will die in poverty and no hope and even bankrupcy is not a option for it cost about 4 grand just to get into a special hearing after all is said and done

glenn p chickering, April 30, 2013

I have a total of $235,000. in student debt. The original amount was $150,000. but because of the economy I was forced to defer, and postpone payment. The amount has now more then doubled. My wife became sick (cancer). and we have an additional $23,000.00 in medical bills. I feel we have no future for ever getting out of debt. Am presently working and my wife is disabled. We live on pennies. We have been struggling financially for over 10 years. I feel hopeless. Why is it that the government can bail out big companies and companies that got us in this economic mess but can't or wont help this generation. I have seriously considered suicide. What life can there possibly left for me. I tell any student to seriously consider attending collage, If you consider that a person who finds a job out of high school and works his or her way up with out collage is in a much better position financially then the same person making a little more but straddled with unbearable debt.

Richard Guerra, April 30, 2013, Clifton,NJ

Back in 1998 I decided to go to college at the age of 27 so I could find a better paying job. Even though I had an associates in accounting, I wasn't getting paid much and could not afford to live on my own. I knew people who didn't have ANY college education and was making better than I was. I had to go to a local college being as I couldn't drive due to personal reasons (no...not because of DWI or DUI)! This local college was VERY EXPENSIVE!! After graduating with my BBA, I thought I would find a great job, but that didn't happen. The field of accounting is what I had worked since I was 21. As I looked for jobs in the accounting field, I only have about a $1.50 raise from when I only had my associates. In 2010 I decided to go back and get the 34 additional hours in accounting classes that I would need in order to get my CPA license. I decided to do this so that I could work from HOME as a CPA being as I was epileptic and this had caused me to lose up to four jobs. I returned to the same private college. I now owe around $40,000 in college loans. Problem is, now I am unemployed and on disability because of the seizures. I lost another job in March 2013 being as I had a seizure at work. I decided I just needed to get on disability and work on passing the CPA exam. Hopefully I will be able to get my CPA license, but there is NO WAY I can afford a $405 monthly payment on my college loan anytime in the next 3 years or so. I have tried to pay a little here and there, but just can't do this with all the other bills I have. I am on deferrement right now due to financial difficulty, but I am required to start paying again in September of 2013. I just will not be able to do this unless a miracle happens. Every time I think of this it makes me worry and terrified I will be in a lot of financial trouble if something doesn't happen fast. I am not trying to get away with not paying this debt, but there are times that we just can't always pay what we owe because of life's little curves we get handed. I had no idea that I would be losing my job due to seizures I have had at work. I would much rather have no more seizures and be able to pay my college loan off, but this just is not looking possible right now. I am not married. I totally support myself. I am scared to see what the total amount of just the interest is on my loan. I was thankful to go back to college, and the plan to become a CPA would have made it possible to pay off this loan. Again, my plans have not gone as planned. I just don't have a way to pay on the loan right now, but do I have a choice when September gets here??? It will just have to eat up my credit rating because I can't do the payments.

Laura, April 30, 2013, Texas

I am a disabled veteran and lost my job a few years back so I went back to school recieved my BS in Criminal Justice, I am a older student so jobs were scarce and decided to go to law school. I had to get private loans, I can only say it is a nightmare I now live in poverty and had to get a land contract on a rundown house, should have been condemmed, I can not get a loan and pay tripple for car insurance. I owe 15 thousand in federal student loan debt and my wife owes around 60 thousand and are on IBR which saved us a lot of money . The problem is the private loan I oew 192 thousand now with interest and no hope. The company will not work with me and has even gone out of their way to make life a mess. they want 1700 month repayment I only bring in 1360 total for housing food and clothes for two people. I even declared bankrupcy where lawyer listed loan but did nothing else. I have tried to make a case asking my lender to take me to court they called in my loan until I sent them a irs code stating my student loan was not a qualified student loan under the law. they replied in their oppinion it was and ruined my credit, I was homeless for 6 monthsw until another disabled veteramn gave me a land contract on a home thatwas un livable. however i did some patching and i am in the place. However if the loan company did not play games with me I may have petioned the state to take the bar. I am ruined and will live and die a poor man with no hope. My concern is I am no exception to the bad treatment i recieved and this made me a non wage earner and a person who can offer nothing to the community or in rebuilding a stable economy except that I pay higher insurance so have nothing extra to spend, I did not ask to become disabled and i have no light at end of the tunnel

glenn p chickering, April 29, 2013, flint michigan

I borrowed $29k for school many years ago, when interest rates were 12%!.
I made payments totaling over $45k over time.
Today, I owe over $160k...all in interest and fees!
Outrageous, immoral, insane, unregulated, and unfair.

Like many, I wasn't even able to complete the degree, since I transferred around too much over 8 years, accumulating enough credits for a BS and MS degree, but not all in one school. I still had to find my own way in the job force, make my own career, and end up in something completely unrelated to anything I studied in school.

When we handed the federally-guaranteed student loan system over to private enterprise (for-profit banks), they took advantage of this opportunity to underwrite and approve any loans, for any amount... which led to the schools raising fees and tuition costs across the board, unregulated, way above inflation.
If the students have a means to get the money (student loans), the schools can charge any amount they want and the banks will keep approving the loans.

This system makes no sense at all.

Why should I have to pay another $160K++ in interest (or twice as much as this if I pay out over 10-20 years), if I have already more than paid off the original loan??!

Yet, we bailed out the banks, just handing them $600B+, rather than pay off all consumer debt (credit cards), mortgages in arrears, and student loans...which would have reset the economy and stimulated buying again!

Steve H, April 29, 2013, Seattle, WA

I owe over $300k in student loans and they will never be paid in my lifetime because of the staggering amount and I am almost 54 years old. I cannot find work due to being an ex-convict and being partially disabled despite having almost 20 years experience in the IT industry. My felony is over 14 years old and I have paid my debt to society. I am a free man, but I have zero income. I know of no relief I can qualify for that will eliminate this debt. I feel for those that cannot make payments even though they are working, but I cannot even work to make the payments.

Hugh, April 29, 2013

I know, I know... When you read this, you see "Bangkok, Thailand" with a bit of a surprised look. Well, here is my story.

My story goes back pretty far, to about when I was 12. I was raised by my father, who was divorced from my mother, who lived in another part of the state. I had moved in with my father because I had never lived with him before, so I figured it was his turn.

It didn't take long... He was abusive, controlling, and made me feel like I would never get anywhere without him in my life. Needless to say, after a while I got tired of this and moved back in with my mother. My mother being quite poor, my father having more money and could help pay for my college.

I wanted to accomplish everything. Prove to myself, my father, and the world that I could do anything without his help. I could do things on my own. With this mentality I went on to receive my bachelor's degree with about 20,000$ of debt. Not too bad.

However, it wasn't enough. I went to finish my Master's degree. Starting off in my hometown and ended up finishing it in Bangkok to gain some much needed international experience, since international relations was my major. Oh boy. Over 40,000$ for the Master's program in all.

In addition, I don't want to leave Thailand. I have established a life here, not to mention have found the love of my life in paradise.

Now I am over $60,000 in debt, desperately seeking a new job here (I have one teaching already, but doesn't pay more than a waitress in America because cost of living is much lower here) because soon I have to start paying off my loan. And from what it seems, that will be about 500-600$ a month from what I heard.

Oh boy. What is a girl to do?

Mary P., April 29, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand

Although he had no background in computers, and although the market is flooded with unemployed web designers, my brother was not discouraged from signing up to study web design at the age of 55. At first, he was approved for student loans from Sallie Mae, and the loans covered both his schooling and his living expenses since he was not employed. But then, for reasons unbeknownst to my brother, he was switched to using Chase Bank for his student loans. He was approved for one loan with the bank being fully aware that my brother was not employed at the time, but when it came time for the next loan, Chase told him they would not approve another loan without a co-signer. When my brother asked me to be the co-signer on his loan, I had my doubts about doing so. But I had a good job as a legal secretary and $10,000 didn’t sound like that much to have to deal with if I had to help him pay it back. I didn’t have much time to seriously consider the consequences of co-signing the loan because my brother had waited until the last minute to ask me – if I didn’t co-sign his loan that day, he would miss out on being able to register for the next quarter. So, against my better judgment, I went online to Chase’s website and filled in the signature block for the co-signer portion of the loan application. I tried repeatedly to access the terms of the loan so I could print them out and read them in full, but every time I clicked on the link to the loan terms, their system froze up and I couldn’t access that information.

During the interim while my brother was in school, I started reading about the student debt crises and about how Congress had allowed the bankers to write the new laws governing Stafford loans. The banks wrote some of the most draconian laws ever written governing loans, where if the loan goes into default, the borrower can’t get a business license for his profession, can’t receive tax refunds from the government, can’t write it off in bankruptcy and can even have their social security retirement benefits docked. When it came time for the next loan my brother needed to continue his studies, I had lost my job of 12 years and I told him I could not co-sign any additional loans. My brother was forced to graduate with an associates’ degree and an incomplete education. Needless to say, he could not find any job related to his field of study, or any job period for at least a year after leaving school. He finally was hired as a security guard making minimum wage. Since he was no longer in school, his loans all became due earlier than they would have. My brother had borrowed close to $50,000 just to complete 2 years of school and wasn’t even making enough money to pay his rent and other living expenses. So, even though I am unemployed myself, I have had to take over paying the loan I co-signed in order to avoid my credit rating ruined, making it even more impossible to find a job. Or worse yet, Chase could even take the house I’ve owned for 35 years! My brother will be paying on these loans for the rest of his life and will be relegated to a life of poverty if his social security retirement benefits are docked (actually folks who only have social security to depend on in retirement are already relegated to living on the edge of poverty – having it docked will probably render him homeless).

I feel that my brother was lured into signing up to study something he had no aptitude for and had too many people in that field. I also feel that he was baited by Chase bank approving the first loan without a co-signer, then demanding a co-signer on the second loan. At that point, he had to continue in school or he wouldn’t be able to pay the loans he already had taken out. So he had no choice but to continue taking out loans. Since the interest rate on the Chase loans is 12%, these 2 years of worthless education will cost us both around $150,000. There’s nothing like paying that amount of money and getting nothing in return for it, especially as far as I’m concerned.

Did I mention that after Congress let the bankers write the new student loan laws, many of these same members of Congress became stockholders or board members of private colleges and are making a lot of money off the misery of student borrowers? And the schools are receiving kickbacks from the banks for every student referred to them for a loan. This means that instead of providing advice in the best interest of the student, school counselors are now only looking out for the school’s bottom line. Instead of bettering our lives, getting an education has ruined our lives and we are now debt slaves with no future!

Christina Lee, April 27, 2013, Atlanta, GA

I am 34 years old, have over 150,000 in student loan debt.

I have a ton of student loan debt, nor do I not have some fancy law degree, Ph.D, or medical degree to go with all that debt. I just possess two master's degrees, one in counseling and the other in education. Because of student loan debt , I will never marry, never have kids, and never buy a house.

Some of you might be thinking (if anyone is even reading this), is that I am throwing a pity party. That is not the case. I fully accept responsibility for what I have done. This is my way of self-evaluation, and coming up with solutions for digging my way out of this 150,000 mess.

Anonymous, April 26, 2013

I graduated from UCLA in 96 . I had my first child in 2001. I had heart failure after my daighter's birth and couldn't go back to work. I have defaulted on my loan. I have all intentions to pay it but two kids later and underemployed I justvwant ti pay my iriginal debt.. And have all that interest go away.

Mar Mercado, April 25, 2013

[April, 2013]
When I wrote the comments below, I never dreamed how much worse it was going to get! After fighting with Social Security for well over 2 years to get my disability and being denied twice, I finally had the privilege of testifying in front of a real live judge. Much to my amazement, she ruled in my favor. After another 5 months of waiting, my SSDI checks started at last. THEN…all of 2 months after that, without a notice or explanation of any kind, my check was (and remains) $327 short. I researched this at once and found out that the Dept. of Education is now garnishing my Social Security check for a 30+ year-old student loan. This may VERY well make me homeless! It was my understanding that any student loan over 25 years old was forgiven. What a disaster! If anyone knows how I should proceed, I would really appreciate some good advice.
Mad & frustrated in Chicago.

[Aug. 2012]
I just wanted to send you personally the text of my message. Please feel free to use it, and my name and contact info if you think it will do more good. This is something I could go on about all day, but I think I concisely expressed the "gist" of this issue:


THANK YOU, MR. Applebaum.

Allen Roberts

H. Allen Roberts, April 25, 2013, Chicago, IL

As a working college professor, I was doing fine, but I decided that pursuing a terminal degree would be a good career move. I racked up nearly $100,000 in debt finishing my doctorate, but I wasn't worried, I was making good money.

Then the great recession came, the college lost some of its state funding, and my department was eliminated. I tried for months to find new work, but being in my 60's, I was an expensive asset to cash strapped colleges. I wound up working whatever job I could find, often only a bit above minimum wage, with Sallie Mae on my heels. I was finally forced to declare bankruptcy, losing all of my retirement and all of my assets. Of course, thanks to the Bush administration, that didn't get rid of my student loan debt.

So I've now gotten myself into a rather sad position. At 62 and in poor health, it is unlikely I'll ever pay back the loan. I could take a middle level management job, but the Student loan sharks would take the money if I made it. I have the choice, apparently, of remaining in poverty for the rest of my life and not working, or of working and remaining in poverty for the rest of my life.

M, April 24, 2013, Maryland

At this point I have to make a choice whether or not I am going to pay my student loan or take care of my children.

Tonia M. Reaves, April 24, 2013

My story with student loans (I prefer its real, more accurate term: massive student debt) is as troublesome as you can imagine, but probably not new. Quite simply, having a high level of massive student debt is nothing more than living a life with a very poor credit rating AND no money. It's that simple.

So, how does this impact my life? Everything from using anything, consuming most things (including the basics like a decent meal or air-conditioning), purchasing products and services (including the basics like a running automobile and health insurance) has no become impacted by my massive student debt. Recreational choices in life have taken a back-seat, as I have yet to travel outside the state (or really the county where I live in) in the past two years. I simply can't afford that.

Just two months ago I apparently was late with renewing my Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan and Sallie Mae raided my savings account. Instead of paying an automatic deduction of $430, Sallie Mae took nearly $2,000! This, believe it or not, left me with a choice of purchasing gasoline to get to work for the next few days, or food. I bought the gasoline and ate anything I could with what was in the house and available for free at work. Luckily enough, my payday wait was just a few days away.

Fortunately for me, and I do mean mortgage is free and clear, having paid that off three years ago. If I were to have that $915 mortgage now, I could not afford to purchase gasoline AND food for the month after the mortgage combined with the IBR payment.

One area of frustration for me, and perhaps you can HELP address this, is how the press and politicians talk about student loan debt as a problem of the young. Well, when I was 46 I had to undertake higher education in order to remain gainfully employed after losing my ob with a back injury. Well, the bachelor degree did not amount to much gainful employment, and the universities were advertising the benefits of graduate degrees. Well, the master degree did not amount to much gainful employment, and the universities were advertising the benefits of doctorate degrees. Well, after two years with my PhD...still not much in the way of gainful employment. Certainly not any gain to begin repayment of my massive student debt.

I can tell you more...what more do you need to know? Connect me up with an agency or group that can SUE the for-profits for grossly misrepresenting the value of these degrees.

Steve V., April 23, 2013, Loma Linda, CA

Due to so many obstacles and my student loans being past from company to company i have staked so much interest on my loan. I've had to place it in deferment due to not finding a job and having 10 surgeries I final finish my degree but I'm so terrified that I want be able to take care of myself or own a home due to paying back that loan. I've been praying everyday for some kind of help.

Annie, April 23, 2013, Rockingham, nc

I am a mother is went to back to school in tried to advance myself by going back to school again and graduated in 2005. I had to take out loans in order to further my education. My daughter graduated high school @ 17yrs old and went straight into college. She graduated in May of 2011 with her bachelors. When she started I took out parent plus loans @ 8.5% and now I'm drowning in debt. I'm still paying off mine which is almost finished but then I have her's which put me over 70K. She also have the small loans that was allowed by her to take out. She has about 10k over her head as well. We really need help to try to get this debt down. If you have any suggestions please contact me.

Tara, April 23, 2013

I have 175k in private loans and 100k in federal loans. The interest rates are so high that I am not ever going to pay them off...

mike s, April 23, 2013

I have $120,000.00 worth of student loan debt. I received my B.A. in History, then went to Graduate School for Anthropology (M.A. '01) and History (M.A. '04) and cannot find employment, despite having a State of CT. certification for Secondary School Teaching. It is a horrible feeling to realize, day after day, that my interest is growing and that my Social Security will be withheld if I cannot pay this off by age 65. I am currently in Unemployment Deferment, and see no end in sight.

Amy, April 22, 2013

I earned my undergraduate degree in 1993, when I was 37 years old with a 7 year old and a three year old to support. I earned a masters degree in 2001. I took an offer to consolidate my loans shortly after they began coming due to simplify my payments and make it easier to track the totals. What I did not realize back then is that by consolidating, I gave up my right to refinance. I watched the offers of 1.2-3% financing come and go without being able to take advantage of lowering my payments. Meanwhile, the amassed interest owed on my loans is almost as much as the amount I borrowed. Because my interest payment alone,is $744 a month, I am ineligible for many of the current repayment plans under Mohela. At 57 years old I will never be able to pay down my loans. My loans are at 8.5% interest. Higher than any mortgage market or even the projected doubling of current interest rates this summer. It makes me sick to my stomach to think of the way I have been manipulated and seeing the bottom line rise to impossible levels, while I make less money and have to jump through inhuman hoops to keep my payments affordable and away from tarnishing my fragile credit rating. Not the outcome I was hoping for when I went back to finish my college education and earn my degree.

Rosemary Anderson, April 22, 2013, Watsonville, CA

There has been very little said or written about Student Loan Debt. It is borderline criminal what is being done to the future generation of Americans. There are no regulations regarding private loans (very few regulations on government loans) Basically, lenders such as SallieMae can charge whatever interest rate they choose, whatever fees they choose. Because there are no rules, no competition, no way to refinance for a lower rate – even with a decent paying job or history of making on-time payments, 22-30 year olds will be “stuck” with astronomical interest rates on top of capitalized interest on their loans for their entire life!
Make no mistake, this will affect every one – These young people (and in some cases older people) will not be stimulating the economy - they won't be buying cars or homes - they won’t be able to! In the current economic situation they are taking lower paying jobs just to have a job and in some cases moving back in with their parents to try to save a little. This plus having to shell out equivalent to a mortgage payment (but way higher interest rate) will have an effect on the economy for years to come! Parents who are almost ready to retire are now helping this generation…. These parents will not be buying cars, homes, vacationing etc.
This generation wants to make good on their debt – they are not “losers” as some ignorant people may say. They began college when the economy was stable, with the promise of a better paying job at graduation, they thought they would be able to afford to pay back their student loans (even though tuition rose astronomically during that time also) Why would they think otherwise? This theory had worked for many, many years! They had the misfortune of graduating into a very different economy than when they started. Regulations were dropped on all student loans and even though interest rates fell on everything else, not on Student loans. There needs to be a way that these young people can pay these loans back but still live, get married, buy a car, a house, be able to eat! The staggering high interest loans will stop all that from happening.
I knew this to be true, but it became more evident to me a few months ago. I went to the bank with my 24 yr old daughter. She graduated with a BS in Fashion Design in Dec, 2011 with over $100,000 in Student Loan Debt. A talented artist, her choice of college was limited to colleges with higher tuition. We allowed her to pursue her dream – knowing we would be helping her pay back the loans. We now pay half of her monthly payments (total monthly payments $1100) She got a job fairly quickly after graduation as an Assistant Designer at a high end fashion company near Philadelphia, PA making $42,000 a year – which is pretty awesome in this economy. But even with that salary, the reality is there is no way she can afford rent, living expenses, try to save and manage those loan payments. She moved back in with us. We went to the bank to apply for a first-time credit card so she can establish credit and she was turned down – Her debt to income ratio was too high. She loves her job, makes a decent salary but there will be no credit card, no future mortgage, no way for her to establish credit, no hope to ever be able to live a life like the generation before her. Should she wait 25 years to buy a home, start a family??
I know her story is not the only one – her sister has a similar story, has her master’s, is not in as much debt, but she was laid off last year from her $35,000 a year job and has now just started a new job making $37,000 a year. I realize they are very fortunate to be working in the fields they went to college for. My heart breaks for the many recent grads who are unemployed and/or working making way less money than they thought they would. In so many cases, even if you have a job, it is very difficult to live and save with the salaries that they are paying today. Hopefully, they will earn more as the years go by, but they are already starting out so far behind, I fear they will never "catch up". We have always been "middle class", but that will be changing for this next generation. They will be the "working poor" with rents higher than ever, I am so afraid that American dream will remain a dream for them with little hope of ever reaching it.
Most politicians do not have a clue as to what the real world is dealing with and I know there are way worse stories out there than mine. Instead of fundraising all that money for campaigns they should try to relieve some of this debt or at least help make every private and govt educational loan a set interest rate of 1 or 2%. This economy would easily turn around!! Sallie Mae has made way too much money off of our future generation, pays their lobbyists way too much money and who knows what other corruption exists with Sallie Mae– this type of greed needs to stopped!!

From: One of many parents who wants a better life for her “middle class, future poverty-stricken” children

Holly Maxwell, April 22, 2013

I am an 8 generation American. And I am a daughter of a British immigrant who misguidedly married my father. I was the unfortunate first issue of this mess that nobody was happy with. My earliest memories of nursery and grade school in the US were of teasing and torment. As a primary school child in England, nothing changed. I was an easy target for some reason, unexplained. My parents were willfully oblivious to my childhood social torments. "Jealous" I was told, and ignore "them." Jealous of what? My father poor married my mother poor. Must have had something to do with someone with our name in the senate and idiots with no class torturing an innocent child. We were clearly without anything our neighbors had. WHY ELSE would anyone be jealous? To shorten this story I grew up in isolation. My only memories of school are being teased and tormented. The nightmare of life didn't stop until I enrolled myself in a women's college. And there I was afforded luxurious freedom in which to catch up and satiate my intellectual starvation and to move forward. From there, a small town in the Midwest, and a short period of zero opportunity I catapulted myself to New York City. From NYC to the IVY league graduate school. It seemed all things were working in my favor finally, aged 30 to 40, except they were asking me to borrow a hell of a lot of money. As I was by then recommended to them by a world class firm I expected that the means would be provided to me for the money to be repaid. But then there was foreign harassment. I never heard the end of how MANY people wanted to be in my shoes. I was even harassed about the fact that my American family had slaves ... insisting that wealth was not destroyed, even though nobody can deny my father grew up in poverty without even his father. Next thing I knew I was in handcuffs and hauled away to a mental institution. It was three days before anyone gave me any reason why I was there. They gave me some slanderous excuse and held me there for a month under medication. I heard my father flew out and colluded with them on this. Then I was shipped back "home" and forced into my first bankruptcy. A second bankruptcy would have cleared me of this farce of an "education." George Walker Bush ruined that. I actually believe in the education I managed to get out of some of my professors. But I am inclined at this point to sue the country for the manner in which I had to receive it and what it has cost me: husband, child, relationships, I am 54 years old have worked my ass off have been denied the right to having children and I am still waiting for my life to begin. The more "far-fetched" solutions seem to be the right ones. I think we should start at the hague and its definition of human rights that people should be able to attend school without harassment. And work? I have been denied the right to have children. NO man is going to marry a woman with an Ivy League education and 6 figures of debt. Because of some certain high profile of my family I must remain anonymous. Because of the slander at their party that has been used to gain political advantage I must speak. And be silent. Not a day has passed since I was put on forced vacation from graduate school that I have not thought about suicide. And Not one member of my supposedly illustrious but slandered family has offered me any solution to my student loan hell. Even my own parents informed me that I am cut out of their will.

Anonymous, April 22, 2013

I only have a small loan $10.000 but I was conned into that by a for profit school! I am struggling to go to Community college on grants and free money working as much as I can at an $8 hr job with no benefits but the restaurant profit was $20 million last year!!

Justin, April 21, 2013

I am a 48 year old woman who took out a Federal Student Loan through the Department of Education in 1995 and 1996 in order to complete a graduate degree in Mathematics. The initial loan was $25,000. The maximum I was elligible to receive. I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign with a BA in English and a minor in Math. My goal after working many, many jobs not related to my field of study except a job as a Copy Editor and another one as a Manuscript Editor (basically the same thing,) was to get another undergraduate degree. This time in Math. Much more marketable. As my job(s) did not allow me to pay for my course work, I looked into loans and grants. I was not elligible for either. Loans because I already had an undergraduate degree and grants because my parents were (are) still living. The logic being that they could help me pay for my education whatever their income status might be. That's where the decision to get a Masters Degree in Math came in. And thus the $25,000 loan. I completed 4-5 courses when I made the decision to stop my course work as I did not feel my math skills were adequate enough to go on to the higher level courses. So I began paying back the loan. I had to move back home at age 23 and try to make my loan payment every month while working part time job(s.) On those salaries I was only paying the minimum amount thus only paying the interest. After finally finding a fulltime job with a substantial income, still living at home, I was able to make my monthly payment and actually put aside a little money as well. After a few months at this job I began having symptoms of depression and mania. I was declared disabled and unabled to work. Leaving this job meant that I have been on several different types of deferments since then. Now it is 2013, 13 years after taking out that initial loan of $25,000. My loan now stands at approximately $45,000, increasing daily as the interest is compounded daily. I have been living in an income-based apartment for 13 years, about to sign my lease for my 14th year. Without the income-based option I would have to live with my parents who are now 80 and 85. Since I can't work and receive a set amount of money with Soc. Sec. Disability and Medicare Disability benefits, there is no room for me to make a loan payment each month. I will never own a home of any kind. I am only contributing to the economy minimally with the small amount of food I buy each month and other necessities. No frills at all. My money goes towards medications and doctors. I have no savings whatsover. As the laws stand now, I could be one of the millions of people who are getting their Soc. Sec. Benefits garnished beginning in my 60's, if not sooner. The law allows that garnishment to be as much as 75%. Even if I were to find a way to pay a minimum payment each month that only goes toward the interest. I am proud to say that I pay all of my bills on time every month but as the laws stand right now regarding studenty loans, I will always have this burden hanging over my shoulder with no hope for my future. I'm lucky if I have $100 in my savings at the end of the month. How in the world will I ever have anything to retire on. Despite getting a degree fom one of the top Universities in the country with a 4.5/5 GPA and having paid taxes from age 16 to 28, when I could no longer work, I am living pennie to pennie each month. Something has to change. Something drastic in our favor.

Karen Fato, April 21, 2013, Gurnee, IL

I was happy to see the 4/20/13 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding baby boomers and student loan debt. Until then, I thought I was alone in this and now realize it is a national crisis. Out of desperation, as a single mom on welfare (with a BS degree who couldn't find a job to save my soul -- "overqualified" for everything) with two elementary-age children at home (and a deadbeat dad--no child support and no living relatives other than my children), -- and, although on welfare -- with NO debt at the time (although having gone through bankruptcy in 1989 because of my ex-husband), I took a deep breath and enrolled in graduate school at the age of 46 in 1996 (buying into the American myth of education as uplift). I completed my MS in 2 years and continued with my PhD, completed in 3 years. My assistantship was more money than I received from welfare, so I declined the monthly payment but kept the foodstamps and health care for my kids and me (and evidently now parents on welfare don't receive health care too.) I completed my PhD in Dec. 2001. At this time, I consolidated my federal loans (which, as of July, 2012, unsubsidized loans are no longer available for graduate students) and thought I received a decent interest rate -- 3.5%. At that time, I realized I likely wouldn't live long enough to pay off the debt and that retirement was not in my vocabulary (since I was honest with welfare and told them I had some retirement at the time and was told I had to cash it out, live on it until it was gone, and only then would I qualify for welfare -- all the time I was seeking employment.) At the time of consolidation, I selected a payment plan that evidently no longer exists -- one of graduated payments over a 30 year period, because I knew in my field of education, I couldn't afford any of the other plans with higher payments. It took me until 2004 to land a tenure track job (and I feel fortunate in this after reading others' experiences) and kept my loans in deferment until that time because I didn't know from year to year if I would be employed or not. I have paid my loans faithfully since that time. Currently, at the age of 63, I still owe over $64,000 in student loan debt. The principle doesn't decrease in any noticeable amount with each payment. I have been teaching in public universities 2003-present and am now tenured (the only way it seems to get a raise). When offered my current and previous positions in higher ed, I tried to negotiate having my student loans paid off and they just laughed at me. I contacted the USDOE loan office and asked if my loans would be left to my children upon my death and they said not as long as they sent a death certificate. My loan was "sold" (or whatever they do) to another entity a year or so ago and the documentation said that nothing would change. So, I hope that forgiveness upon my death via a death certificate is still an option for my children. I saw the loan forgiveness option for those working 10 years in public service. According to the guidelines, I should qualify because I have and still am working for state universities. However, because my loans were incurred prior to 2007, I evidently do not qualify. I personally think this is criminal. My health has always been good, which is a blessing, until after I came to my current position. Since then, I have had throat cancer surgery and major back/neck surgery. (I fear for the future of my health, health care as well, and my ability to continue to work.) I am in the field of education, which is underpaid considerably in comparison to some of the other fields in higher education. I have been helping to prepare our future teachers for all this time. We haven't had a raise in 5+ years and in no way keep up with the cost of living at my university. Further, I had to move away from my home and small family to another state to find work and I have to rent a place that eats away my small income. I have feared that if I ever was able to retire, that my loans would be garnished in my social security by the federal government and the Chronicle article confirmed I was right. (I have joked, but with the underlying truth, that I may end up dropping dead in the classroom and traumatizing my students.) As many, I have worked my entire life (other than a few times when I couldn't find work.) My first job was when I was in 6th grade and I made $0.50/hour. I am more fortunate than some in that my parents left me my home in my home state and I have managed to hold onto it. Even when on welfare, I recognized that I was more fortunate than most in that situation. Most of the people I work with have been in higher ed their entire lives and have, in my opinion, no idea what real life is like, much less capable of identifying with my situation. I continue to seek work in my home town, where at least I might be able to get ahead a little bit if I didn't have to pay rent somewhere else, but that hasn't happened yet for me. At this point in life, I believe that ageism is real and that diminishes my chances to reach that seemingly small goal. As many others, I don't understand why Wall Street and other big business are bailed out and rewarded with our tax dollars and those of us hard working people continue to be penalized. I was thrilled to find this web site via the article in the Chronicle. I hope there is a way to make AARP aware of this, if they are not already. And, I pray there is help for all of us in this situation -- before I'm dead. At this point, I am better of dead in terms of leaving fewer problems for my children to deal with. Suicide has crossed my mind more than once. I've had to reinvent myself numerous times throughout life to keep going and find work. I haven't thought much of the government since 6th grade when our farm was condemned via eminent domain for the new interestate system and they booted us off our land. (The myth is that people are supposed to receive a fair price, but that wasn't true then and I have no reason to believe it's changed.) The government has done nothing but become worse and ALL the fools in Congress need to be booted out, the system gutted and start over. Yet -- they and their children receive student loan forgiveness and health care for the remainder of their lives - ALL at our expense. There is something seriously distorted, criminal, and wrong with this.

Anonymous, April 21, 2013

I am extremely frustrated at the lack of help for people with student loans. I have $50k of student loans,in which where originally $27,000, I have not been able to make payments for the last years due to the economics slowdown. Last year I was denied any forebearance, right now I am danger of being in supposedly "default" on my loans.
Oh, one of my denials said the form was unreadable, it was typed in Microsoft word.
These servicers of these loans are legal loan shakers. I am being charged 8% ,but it's really not, because the way it's compounded ita equal to 24%. Why is it that the government of the united states penalizes their citizens if they continue their education.
My wife is unemployed and I am a store owner. I have fought to eliminate my debt, my house is modified,my credit debt has one more year and it will be gone. Yet my students grow to unmanageable high debt which I can not control.
Why can't I modify my student loan debt as I did my mortgage.
Are the senators and Congressman making money from our student loan debt? What is wrong with them?

william reed, April 21, 2013, Massachusetts

I have 85K(plus) in student loans disbursed as follows(64K) in forbearance and (24K) in private loans which I am repaying. Cannot afford to purchase a home and interest keeps accruing. This is out of control and frustrating. Cannot sleep at night and sometimes feeling suicidal because I cannot find solution to this problem. I am working with DoD and hope that these debt goes away with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Only have 3 yrs of service, but haven't made payments to the Federal Loans. Under PSLF loan can be forgiven after making 120 payments and have 10 yrs of service. I sincerely hope goverment forgive or modify these loans. Another thing is Sallie Mae, the worst organization to manage student loans. I called them and they told me I don't qualify for Income Based Repayment. Hope there is light at the end of the tunnel because is too darn dark.

Gabe Santiago, April 21, 2013, Blacklick OH

I attended school as an older person so my children and I were all attending different schools at the same time. I was a work study at a college and tripping over credit card "pushers" handing out water bottles for student loan holders without counselling or the maturity or ability to pay it off each month. I believe the credit they were offering to 18 year old students who did not need a parents approval ruined some students credit by the time they graduated. The perfect storm that was created to get the students to spend money on living expenses paid for out of student loan money without thought to a strict budget, was in error and needs a reset to a more fiscally responsible society so greedy banks cannot take advantage of the immaturity of students fresh out of high school who do not have a fiscal history to make good choices.

“Anonymous”, April 21, 2013

I took out loans for 40k in '97 to become a public school teacher in a high needs area (Title 1 schools). Been paying for 15 years straight, and today my balance is over 40k. I use my own money regularly to pay for classroom supplies and school events. Why do corporations and banks get bailouts and subsidies, and we get no help.

Terri, April 21, 2013, Washington DC

I went to grad school on disability from my job. I was using the time to improve my chances of going back to work by training for a less physically demanding job so I didn’t have to go on permanent disability. While I was killing myself to do this I wracked up 100000 in debt. I went to school with many many foreign students who had a free ride from their government. When my temp disability ended I went to work at my university in hope of getting finished. i WORKED 40 hrs a week, went to class and worked on my dissertation while raising a special needs kid and an unemployed husband. While I did this my foreign colleagues hung out and raised their families without the stress of having to work. They finished their doctorate. I did not. I did not get one penny of support for my graduate study.
How fair is that. The best and brightest of us are saddled with life long debt (at 60 I own 80000 still and am in default). I will be paying it the rest of my life along with huge medical costs of my chronic illness. While trying to raise my granddaughter on social security. The good news is I never made enough money to get used to a life style much above the poverty level..

Theresa, April 21, 2013

In a nutshell:

I started at Bethany College in West Virginia back in 2003. In 2005/2006 I found myself in an abusive relationship that progressed and I ended up drugged, raped and found myself in the hospital for a week, where I was treated like a drug addict instead of a survivor.

It was MY decision to finish what I started; I didn’t want him to continue to take from me and going back to school helped me heal faster. So I did finish at Bethany in 2009. During the course of that relationship however, and while I was in the hospital, all of my original loans defaulted and no one would work with my mother, who was also in shock and being told, “You better pay the doctor or we’ll stop giving your daughter the help she needs.”

So the loans continued to pile up so that a hospital which did more harm than good could be paid for. Now I’m $90,000+ in debt, and I only make $1,400/year after paying every day bills, doctors, and the one collection agency that was nice enough to work with me.

I’m not asking for all my student debt to be forgiven. I took out additional loans in 2007 to finish school on my own accord. But the loans that defaulted while I was in the middle of a violent relationship that I was lucky to get out of? Give myself and my family a break! We live with the aftermath of that situation every day. My mother told the collection agencies what was going on, but they looked at me like a number and not a person.

They’re no better than the guy who beat me.

Megan, April 21, 2013

I started community college when my daughter was 5 months. My husband lost his job the next month but we both continued to study. He did not got a decent job for another 2 years. I was taking 1-2 courses per semester, borrowing of course because we had no means to pay for it. I finished my master’s degree after 6 years… my debt doubled in that time. My interest is close to 6%, not even the 3&% you’re talking about here. I cannot even afford to pay interest on monthly basis. Yes, I majored in a good field, but no-one wants to pay “industry standard”. I was laid off this week too on top of that. Why did my debt doubled when I was still studying? It is not fair for the interest to be growing during the time of study. I’m stuck with amount of debt I cannot pay under any circumstances. No-one wants to help.

Dana, April 21, 2013

I started going to college to study Marine Biology. When I met my now husband. We have been together for 4 years now. He has started his job as a teacher and his loans are forgiven if he teaches for 4 plus years in a low income school which he is. My loans seem to be overwhelming us. We are trying to get a vehicle to start a family and all of a sudden, I fell while pregnant. the bills we are having to pay along side with my loans (which they wont lower payments on)and all of our rental bills such as rent and utilities add up and we have nothing left at the end of the month. We lost our first child and are struggling to make it. We are hundreds of miles from any relative and are trying to stay strong.

Jessica, April 21, 2013

I got student loans in 1987-1989 and attended two years at a university. Did not graduate and ending up working at the time what was a min wage hour job as accounting clerk. Around 1991 I went to a 18 month "college" and got a certificate as an Executive secretary which I already was doing but needed "paperwork" to back it up so I could try to make more money and advance in that field. I am currently a graphic designer/secretary and only make $26,000 a year gross. Husband makes maybe $22,000 a year. We have a mortgage, 1 car payment. I have made student loan payments all the way back to late 80s/early 90s. Never been in default. But I have had to use many forebearances, lower payment amounts, deferrals, etc. over the years. As a result, the $9000 I initially borrowed is now about $15,000 although I have paid about $15,000 in interest over the years. I can still get an "affordable" payment of about $109 a month but that will have me paying on the loans til I am in a nursing home. I can't afford much more than that and we are probably having to file bankruptcy cp 7 this year anyway. But that will mainly only relieve us of credit card debt (we haven't use a credit card for 4 years). I am paying over 9% interest and have looked at redoing the loan with Direct Loans and they would give me 8.25% interest. But with our finances I will will be looking at paying this when I am a senior citizen. By then I probably will have paid about $40,000 on this $9000 loan and will probably still owe the initial principal.

I hope that you or something is working on something to help those like me. Getting partial forgiveness, or being able to get 0% or lower interest rate would allow me to keep paying what I am now or even a little more but be able to pay off the loan.

Looking back, every year I should have used my income tax return to pay down the loan. I think perhaps that would be a good solution for students beginning to have student loan payments, to be able to select on their loan apps, to allow the gov to pay down the loan with the tax returns for a period of years?

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I have ALWAYS kept my loan current (with few minor hiccups) either via regular payments or deferment periods. My loan has NEVER gone into default. I have been paying the price for going to college since 1994. Below shows my original loan balance and my current loan balance and my final payment amount after the loan has been cured. It's shocking - but true. You have to read it carefully - you are not reading anything incorrectly if you are able to realize that today I owe (including interest until the end of the most recent repayment period) only about $5,000 less than what I owed starting 18 years ago. That's right - it's all in writing and I have the supporting documents from the American Education Services group that manages student loans for SunTrust Bank, among other entities. These are solid factual numbers, and be forewarned, they're shocking!!!! I owed over $19,000 18 years ago and today I still owe over $15,000!! That's right - my balance has only been reduced by less than $4,000 in 18 years. What the numbers below do not show are what I have actually paid, in total, over 18 years. No bank or loan servicer would EVER provide the total amount of money that has actually been repaid on the loan. I'm guessing that my total repayment will be at a minimum twice what I originally borrowed - and that's a conservative figure - and that's what most students, including myself, do not realize when they get into these student loans. They will haunt you for life! I am 48 years old.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I would like to share a story. I know a guy that grew up in public housing with a single mother and seven other brothers and sisters. They all shared in the struggle of growing up poor, even having times where the food they ate was retrieved from dumpsters. However, this same guy had a determination that led to graduating with honors from high school. He had a full scholarship to college, but by not being able to escape family issues, he abandoned it. His recovery was to go back to school and graduate summa cum laude with an Associate Degree in Education, magnum cum laude with a bachelor's degree in education, and since has earned a master's and specialist's degree in education. His story has catapulted him into being a prominent community activist as he has become a speaker and an avid volunteer in the community to give back in similar terms to the help he received as a child. He has been nominated as teacher of the year, selected as an honored member of the Covington Who's Who Professional registry for excellence in education, named Professional of the Year for Covington Who's Who Professional registry, and even was a finalist for a position at the world renowned Ron Clark Academy. He speaks continuously to students about the power of education and perseverance, using his personal story as a model. He's a published poet, author, performer, and community activist. He is the epitome of how education can change a life. But, his net worth is close to $100,000 in student loans (over $150,000 with interest). With all of the time he has spent on work and service, his only wish is to have the ability to help his mother of eight finally get her own home, but it will take at least 30 years to change that debt to income ratio that will make a difference. This is an issue that drives decision making. He is not an ordinary citizen; he is an extraordinary contributor to society that has a voice that makes people listen. He feels like he is paying his debt to society, but it continues to grow. His life and service should be worth something. How many CEOs that received bailouts can share a similar story?

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I've been in love with the guitar since I watched back to the future when I was 3. At the age of 14 I started to take it seriously, and practiced and played and taught myself by listening to the radio and CDs. Being more of a creative person, I never loved school per say, but following the pressures in our society that dictate college = success, I thought that if I loved music, I'd apply to the best music school in the world. I applied to my dream school Berklee college of music late in 2006. I was thrilled to find out that I was accepted, and without any experience or knowledge about student loans, I was all in. Coming from an family of 5 on an income that was far below the poverty level, I had to take out loans if I was going to attend. That wasn't a wonderful option of course, but i told myself, it's America, the land of opportunity! I should be able to follow my dreams like Ive been told i should all of my life right? Well, I followed them into $40,000 plus a year for two and a half years and racked up what is now estimated $160,000 of private student loan debt. Getting approved for the private loans was seemingly
easier than getting a credit card or even a job. Almost all of my loans were applied for and approved right over the Internet without any cosigners. Which I now know was because due to the current laws, the banks knew I would be liable to pay the debt no matter what happened in my life. So a 21 year old
kid who hadn't made more than $12 per hour in his life was approved for tens of thousands instantly. Only Sallie Mae asked for a cosigner. Forced to stop going to school because of the ever increasing bill, my wife and I moved to Texas in 2009 for her recruitment into the Teach for America program where she was pretty much locked into a solid salary for 2 years. We figured we should take her salary and pay down our debt to help our future. So we moved, and I was unemployed for half our time there. Fast forward a few years and I'm still not in a position to go back to school to help get into a decent salary to help pay down our student loan debt. I've been unemployed for about half
Of the time we've been married.
We have mortgage sized monthly student loan payments at $1300, which is exactly the amount of our actual mortgage. We have a daughter to support, and many things in our house that are in dire need of repair. We are suffocating from a few years of college in which I couldn't even get a degree to help qualify me to earn money to pay off the loans. If our elected officials don't help and make some real change for those of us with mortgage sized private student loans, there will be generations that pay for it in many ways. It's hard to have confidence in a government that is quick to bail out banks that made horrible and irresponsible decisions, but are turning their backs on those who were just trying to follow a childhood dream.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I have tried to work with my lenders to refinance and have been given no options. At this point I have been able to keep my accounts current by working full time and living at home with my parents.

I have three separate private lenders; the worst of which being Sallie Mae. I was told by Sallie Mae on multiple occasions that I had 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan and have used 12 of them to make ends meet. When I hit 12 months of forbearance, I was told that federal loans have 24 months of forbearance and private loans have 12 months. Therefore, I had used it all and had no other options. I had been told 24 months on numerous occasions that I spoke with their customer service representatives. I am currently making interest only payments of $599/month as well as my other loan payments, totaling $1200/month.

I am trying to stay current, but have found no options to make payments affordable. I recently met with a bankruptcy attorney who basically told me there was nothing I could do to remedy the situation besides wait for the studen loan "bubble to burst."

My mother is unemployed and my father is disabled, so I have no financial assistance in that regard. They are able to offer me a room in a two bedroom apartment, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

In a nutshell I grew up in a small town called Sanford, ME. I was adopted from Bogota, Columbia at 11 months and from an early age learned I was very different then my immediate family. I am a dreamer and always wanted to travel, go on great adventures, and concur the world. My Parents were incredible discouraging and oppressive and eventually my dad went from being mentally abusive to physically abusive. I was in and out if the house starting at age 14. My aunt kept telling me the only way out was college. Because we were a lower/middle class family I didn't have many resources for other people who had gone to college, or any support. I too thought college was the only answer and fought my way through the application process and eventually the FASFA constantly overcoming hurdles to get there.

Around this time my dad decided to use this as a way to regain power over me and we would spend weeks in battles about things I needed to apply for college which he would refuse to give me or sign. Eventually I made it to the University of Vermont where the power struggle continued because every year I needed a co-signer for my loans. I lost financial aid and quite a bit of myself during those years constantly being threatened with not being able to go back if my parents didn't cooperate. I worked really hard in college and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I graduated in 2011 and now work as a mechanical engineer for a company in Time Square called Hardesty & Hanover. I design the operating machinery for movable bridges and retractable roofs.

I am living a lower standard of life now then I ever have in the past because of my student loan payments. I have about 34,000.00 of federal debt and about 70,000.00 is private.

Unfortunately for me the private loans are nearly impossible to work with and it is hell. I work long hours as an engineer, and I also find jobs on the side to supplement my income. I have designed a few websites and am now looking for a bartending job. I'm exhausted and loosing motivation because when I do the math there is no hope for these loans. I can not consolidate most of them and some of them are in my mothers name even though I am paying them.

I have a passion for life, traveling, helping people, and rock and ice climbing. I am currently being stifled in a job that feels like its destroying my soul and I'm really stuck because the debt takes away all of my income. My coworkers bring me lunch a few times a week or I get free food from the kitchen because I wont have enough to eat. I don't have much of a social life anymore because I live in NYC and can't spend any money. I have been working hard to organize my loans and loan terms and talked to a few lawyers and life coaches to try and figure out if there is a way out. There might be a little hope but I have to finish preparing the information first.

I am 25 and still don't get along with my immediate family at all. I've spent a lot of energy helping out my grandparents and spending time with them because they were the ones who basically raised me and believed in me when no one else did. Unfortunately I am realizing that the dynamic and decisions my parents and aunts are making around there end of care life is not in line with what I would want for them and it is too hard to watch. I think I'm going to have to walk away and never turn back because I have exhausted every resource in the book an want them to have better quality lives. Thinking about my next move in life and a perfect career is very hard. In a nutshell I know what I want and will continue to go after it. My monthly loan payments holds me back from taking many of the risks I need to make some of these things happen (like taking internships or doing strictly volunteer work ). This past year I paid ~14,986.84 in student loans and 5,536.80 of that was interest.

I want to share this story with the world to try and stop it from happening to other people. College is not the only way "out" and for many people its not necessarily the right decision.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I graduated from Brooklyn College in 1997. I was in school for 7 years and received a BFA in Literature, and 18000 in student loan debt. I paid for a while while i was working, but then an illness, and economic downturn forced me into delinquency. I tried forbearance, but it became harder and harder to find work in the recession. I was out of work for 2 years and finally ended up defaulting on my loans. the phone calls stated almost immediately, and the Department of Education sells their debt to collection agencies who employ the most horrid of people. There were threats, and threats and more threats,and the debt kept growing and growing and growing. I still have not paid back my loans, and the amount is now over 30000 dollars, most of it penalties and interest. unless i get a job that pays over 60000 a year there is no way i can repay these loans and they have been garnishing my federal tax refunds for several years. the amounts don't add up to much so this will go on for the forseeable future. They have also placed garnishment orders on jobs that i've had in the past, and left me with barely enough money to put gas in my car. my biggest fear is that if and when i'm able to retire they will garnish my social security if i don't get them under control.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

For the past 5 months I've made my monthly payments on the balanced due for my student loan with Wells Fargo and NOT one penny has been applied to my principal balance on the student loan. They also stopped in Decemeber 2012 giving me my monthly statements that keep me updated on my payment progress, interest rates, current balance etc.

I've contacted them today via email, and will be calling them next week on this issue.

This poor business practice has to stop with student loans and the banks.
I would like to get this out to the public and media to gain awarness on this growing issue.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013

I have been a Montana resident for 5 years and graduated college in '98 with a BA in psychology. I was in touch with a couple of different federal student loan offices for several years trying to keep my loans repayment status in forebearance and as long as possible so I could have time to establish myself in my career, make a good enough income and start paying off my school loans. I worked 3 years in mental health after college trying to get my career going and couldn't make anywhere near enough money to make even one small repayment. The mental health system in almost every state where I worked or applied for work...Oregon, California, Iowa and Montana is complacent, corrupt and apathetic unwilling to offer any sort of well-paying job to undergrads or offer a career path. Also my school did not offer internships for counseling for mental health work and did not seem to care what I did after graduation as long as I paid them their money for my undergrad degree. Since fall of '01 I have been working in various trade and food industry jobs just to survive but it hasn't allowed me to make a steady income I can rely on nor improve my financial situation.

Up until '07 I had been in touch with a couple of federal student loan offices trying to keep my student loans in forebearance. I had been very regular and punctual in submitting the paperwork they needed to keep my loan repayment suspended. When a new federal loan office called me in June of '07 to inform me my loans had gone into default I was shocked. I had submitted the paperwork to them as I had always done but this time they claimed they never got the necessary paperwork from me. Perhaps it went to the wrong office, got mishandled somehow, I may have accidentally tossed out some crucial mail from them, or my paperwork was incomplete. For whatever reason there was a miscommunication and I couldn't get my loans out of default unless I paid a collection agency they had hired to have me pay a monthy payment under their terms for 6-12 months then the loan would return to normal and get out of default. The debt collectors wanted too much money as a minimum per month and I was not making nearly enough money to even pay my bills or rent on time. I and my family have been barraged with phones calls from debt collectors wanting me to enter a repayment plan with them for the last 6 years now. At this point I get a few phone calls and automated messages from a debt collector everyday, even on weekend days. I am still not doing well financially and I'm currently unemployed. I am looking to go back and get a Master's degree and attempt to get into a higher paying job after grad school, however, I'm not certain (because of my defaulted loans) the federal loan agencies would allow me to borrow more money for school.

This has been an onging stressor for me and ridiculously challenging to deal with. I know I'm capable of doing great things for my community and making a great career for myself to gain financial independence and resolve all my past debts but that's a long, long road uphill and, at this point looks, insurmountable.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Anonymous, April 20, 2013



Comments (4)

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  1. Dana says:

    I started community college when my daughter was 5 months. My husband lost his job the next month but we both continued to study. He did not got a decent job for another 2 years. I was taking 1-2 courses per semester, borrowing of course because we had no means to pay for it. I finished my master’s degree after 6 years… my debt doubled in that time. My interest is close to 6%, not even the 3&% you’re talking about here. I cannot even afford to pay interest on monthly basis. Yes, I majored in a good field, but no-one wants to pay “industry standard”. I was laid off this week too on top of that. Why did my debt doubled when I was still studying? It is not fair for the interest to be growing during the time of study. I’m stuck with amount of debt I cannot pay under any circumstances. No-one wants to help.

  2. Socialmedic says:

    Corporations are people, they can file for bankruptcy. Student’s can not file for bankruptcy. Students therefore are not people.

  3. Megan says:

    In a nutshell:

    I started at Bethany College in West Virginia back in 2003. In 2005/2006 I found myself in an abusive relationship that progressed and I ended up drugged, raped and found myself in the hospital for a week, where I was treated like a drug addict instead of a survivor.

    It was MY decision to finish what I started; I didn’t want him to continue to take from me and going back to school helped me heal faster. So I did finish at Bethany in 2009. During the course of that relationship however, and while I was in the hospital, all of my original loans defaulted and no one would work with my mother, who was also in shock and being told, “You better pay the doctor or we’ll stop giving your daughter the help she needs.”

    So the loans continued to pile up so that a hospital which did more harm than good could be paid for. Now I’m $90,000+ in debt, and I only make $1,400/year after paying every day bills, doctors, and the one collection agency that was nice enough to work with me.

    I’m not asking for all my student debt to be forgiven. I took out additional loans in 2007 to finish school on my own accord. But the loans that defaulted while I was in the middle of a violent relationship that I was lucky to get out of? Give myself and my family a break! We live with the aftermath of that situation every day. My mother told the collection agencies what was going on, but they looked at me like a number and not a person.

    They’re no better than the guy who beat me.

  4. Theresa says:

    I went to grad school on disability from my job. I was using the time to improve my chances of going back to work by training for a less physically demanding job so I didn’t have to go on permanent disability. While I was killing myself to do this I wracked up 100000 in debt. I went to school with many many foreign students who had a free ride from their government. When my temp disability ended I went to work at my university in hope of getting finished. i WORKED 40 hrs a week, went to class and worked on my dissertation while raising a special needs kid and an unemployed husband. While I did this my foreign colleagues hung out and raised their families without the stress of having to work. They finished their doctorate. I did not. I did not get one penny of support for my graduate study.
    How fair is that. The best and brightest of us are saddled with life long debt (at 60 I own 80000 still and am in default). I will be paying it the rest of my life along with huge medical costs of my chronic illness. While trying to raise my granddaughter on social security. The good news is I never made enough money to get used to a life style much above the poverty level..