Real Life Stories

You are not alone! Below are real stories of the financial harships people just like you are going through. If you would like to share your story, please email us at

NOTE: There's no guarantee of specific results and that the results can vary.

"When I started University I had a guaranteed Ronald Reagan low interest loan 1.9% for the life of the loan.  After I graduated Sallie Mae purchased the loans and said they would consolidate the loans so I could make just one payment per month.  I had approx. $21,000 in loans, I paid the loans for 8 years and called to pay of the balance as I was paying over $200 per month my balance must be small.  They told me my balance was not $26,000.  I said they must have made a mistake but they said when the loans were consolidated the interest rate changed to a capital interest at 8 or 9% and I was not even paying the interest every year.   I retained an Attorney and he informed my to stop any further payments, and he would take care of the situation.  While he was still trying to disolve the loan he passed away.  Again the harrassing phone calls started.  I made and agreement to make payments for another year and it would be paid in full.  After I made my 12th payment I asked for my paid in full letter and instead they now told me my balance was $50,000 because of interest and in fines.  So the collection company now lied to me and the bill continues to grow.  I moved to Europe 5 years ago as my wife is from there, we are looking to move back to the States with our two boys and looked up my credit score, here in Europe it is very high and almost a perfect credit history for 5 years, and then my USA credit score is low and says I know owe $90,000 for student loans. 

 So in summary there is no way out of this loan or fake debt that the government (Sallie Mae) has created.  There should be a class action suit agaisnt the Government that consolidated low interest loans and raised to interest rates to insanely high rates.  A free ticket to hold the citizens prisioners.  The government has become loan sharks. I have paid back appox. $26,000 on a $21,000 loan and now owe $90,000 so if anyone know how to disolve this loan please let me know."
-Terry Tierney *

"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 *

"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."
-Thomas R. *

"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 *

"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."
Margo C., Riverside, CA *

"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 *

"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 F., Gurnee, IL *

"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 *

"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 M. *

"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 *

"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 *

"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 *

"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 D. *

"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.. Thanks"
-Theresa *

"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 in Washington DC *

"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 *

"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 S. in Ohio *

"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 R. in Mass. *

"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 A, Watsonville, CA *

"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 *

"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 *

"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. from Loma Linda, CA *

"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 from Maryland *

"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 *

"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! Grrrrrrrr....sigh."
-Steve H. Seattle, WA *

"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 C. Flint, MI *

"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, Texas *

"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 G. Clifton, NJ *

"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 *

"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 V. *

"Hello, 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, Abington, PA *

"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 W. Arcata, CA *

"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 *

"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 H. *

"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 *

"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 *

"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, Chesapeake, VA *

"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 *

"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 S. Orlando, Florida *

"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 P. IL. *

"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 B. *

"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 S., Phoenix. AZ *

"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."
-Longmont, CO *

"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 *

"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 in MI. *

"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 in IL. *

"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 *

"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 in Yuma, AZ *

"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 *

"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!"
-Dan H., Tracy, CA *

"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 *

"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."
-Key West, FL *

"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 G., Egg Harbor Township N.J *

You can consolidate your own student loans at no charge at Federal Student Aid. or see if you qualify for a Student Debt Forgiveness Plan now, call (800) 990-9146.

* There's no guarantee of specific results and that the results can vary.

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NOTE: You can consolidate your own student loans at no charge at Federal Student Aid. National Docu Center (NDC) educates the general public and does not negotiate, adjust or settle debts. All phone numbers listed connect to a 3rd party private company offering fee-based services to assist with document preparation for federal student loan income-driven repayment and other programs. NDC is not a non-profit organization and not affiliated with any government program, the Department of Education, Sallie Mae, or any other loan servicing agency. By applying through NDC does not guarantee any outcome and results vary. By calling our number, you consent to be contacted by National Docu Center or it's affiliates by phone, email or text/SMS at the number(s) listed above even if your number provided on the form above is on a National or State Do Not Call List. Your consent does not require you to purchase any services. The information and statements contained on this Website are intended as general educational information and expressly not intended and regarded as legal or financial advice.
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