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NOW on Demand
Week of 6.5.09

Student Loan Stories

How are you handling your college loans, and how are lenders handling you? This is the question we asked our viewers and visitors to answer, and the response was overwhelming.

Here's a taste of what some had to say about their situation:

"For over a decade, I have suffered under almost constant harassment. Sometimes, the calls come as often as three times a day!"

—Dustin Logan, who said his student loan debt was forgiven after becoming permanently disabled and unable to work. But years after his disability case was resolved his lender demanded that he pay up anyway, Logan says. He's afraid he will be hounded for the rest of his life.

"Currently, my monthly student loan payments cost me nearly 50% of my take-home income ($1600 per month)."

—Kaycee, who fears she will have to leave her "relatively low-paying" job as a public defender because she is unable to keep up with her student loan payments.

"I was diagnosed with systemic lupus last year, and still not able to see a doctor to begin treatment. There is no money to spend."

—Kimberly, who says her decision to care for her ailing grandparents has made it impossible for her to keep up with her loan payments. She feels like everyone involved—the politicians, the lobbyists, and the money lenders—have been "unbelievably heartless."

"My $38,000 debt had exploded to $70,000."

—Edward McKinley, a social worker who after a serious family illness and low paying entry level jobs, says he was unable to pay back the loans used to acquire his advanced degree.

"A $5,000 dollar loan has turned into a $50,000 dollar loan due to interest and my life is hell."

—Turquoise, who says she developed cancer before completing her degree and has been unable to work due to disability. After fruitlessly trying to repay her loans and pleading for debt forgiveness from the loan companies, she is in despair.

Share your personal stories below or read other personal experiences.

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Lisa
I was the first in my family to go to college. My family was working class and could not help me in any way. I ended up taking out student loans to finance my final two years of my undergraduate schooling and then grad school to become a teacher. However, due to having to work, etc., it took me 6 years to finish this coursework. During that time, since I did work full time, I did qualify for the subsidized loan. So for 6 years, my loans were accruing interest. By the time I graduated I had close to $55,000 in student loan debt. I knew I could never make the payments on such a loan on a teacher's salary (the estimate was $600/mth - this was in 1995), so I joined the Army to qualify for the student Loan Repayment Program. In 3 years they paid off $45,000 of my student loan. Why not the entire amount? Well, the rules were that they would only pay principle, not accrued interest. Great. Not only that, but I had to pay taxes on this forgiveness - and due to a mistake by the Army, ended up owing $3,000 to the IRS upon my discharge from the Army. Still... it was better than the original total amount. I have now been paying on a (by the time it was all said and done) $13,000 student loan (not including the IRS payments I had to make for about a year) for 11 years. I still owe $10,000. I've gotten nowhere. Yes, I've gone into forebearance a couple of times.... but that's just the problem... you could pay this thing forever. It just seems wrong. Pardon the class envy, but I know a lot of people will say things like you should have thought of that when you took out the loans. Personal Responsibility!!! But what are you supposed to do if you want an education? And what kind of 'Personal Responsibility' did all of those kids whose parents paid for their educations have to demonstrate? It's easy to be judgemental when you had it handed to you because you were born into the right family. When I was sweating out in the Saudi Arabian dessert on 36 hours shifts, I couldn't help but think of all those kids I would pass in the halls who not only had their tuition and books paid for but living expenses too. I was proud to serve in the military for my country, but it just seems wrong that I had to risk my life and go through hell in order to pay for an education. And I still owe.
It is just so wrong.

Commenter: Jason
I'm a lawyer with over $150K in debt. My student loan payments are more than 50% of my take home income. The job market for attorneys is not great even when times are good but in a recession, it is nearly hopeless. I own no home and can't even think about starting a family because I can't even afford to take care myself.

The average attorney does not make what they once did. The market is saturated, yet the average debt is far higher than it used to be. I know guys that I went to high school with that didn't go to college that are living in $300K homes and have families. I have a bachelor's and a juris doctrate and I was forced to move back in with my parents. It makes absolutely no sense.

I should have been a student loan lender...there's virtually ZERO risk in the investment. It's criminal. It oppresses people that want to be educated and positively contribute to society. Our founding fathers are probably turning over in their graves.

Commenter: Thomas Forlano
I first attended college in 1999 at the age of 18. Back then I did not give much thought to the reality of paying back student loans. I honestly didn't give my loans much thought until this year when I began my monthly payments. If I were that age again I would approach education and paying for education with great caution. This time I would ask myself if I were really ready to learn and apply myself and if my degree really was applicable and sustainable in an uncertain global future. At 18 I had a fantasy about life that did not require me to look closely at my decision to borrow money for school. Money was immaterial to me then, but very material to me now. The irony is that because I have a more practical relationship to money now, being that I am responsible for supporting myself, I would not seek to undermine my livelihood by creating anything but the most minimal financial obligations for myself. Also, facing uncertain times ahead, I am more interested in having work through which I can provide for my basic needs and provide needed services to others. This is quite different from my perspective earlier in life that I needn't worry about money because one day I would have lots of it and that I could fulfill my artistic dreams without considering the needs of the world. How naive it is to think this way and be borrowing money by the bushel.

The story highlighting Sallie Mae arouses some questions of intuition about if and when to borrow. I remember when Sallie Mae came under new ownership because I received loans from them. The question I would ask myself now is, Regardless of my educational aspirations, are these people that I want to be dealing with? Are these people I want to be in relationship with? It is clear to see that in uncertain economic and social times, each one of us needs to examine the types of relationships we engage with. If we do not, we risk falling into the clutch of inhumane systems that eventually erode and exploit our social and spiritual integrity.

If I could offer advice to younger people in school who undoubtedly are readying to sign those loan papers each semester with hardly a glance at the principle, it would be this: Consider carefully the value and meaning of the subject and school you choose within the context of a world in need and the implications of paying off debt for decades of your life. Try to be certain about the use of your education in terms of how it will provide for you and others in the future. If you are uncertain, perhaps it is a good idea to lay low and out of debt. Let the errors of other students teach you about the realities and limitations of using money and the difficulties associated with money for those who have too much of it and for those who have too little of it.

Commenter: Stack Jones
I owe more than 135,000 in student loans. The rate of interest makes the loan grow and grow. I can't rent an apartment, and my credit rating has destroyed my life.

I have a law degree, but by the time I finished law school, I could not afford the 5000.00 USD, I needed to take the bar exam.

I was already disabled, and I actually spent 3 years in law school, living in the back of my truck.

The "American" dream is gone.

I live in Japan. I will never get out of that American debt. So, I gave up on trying.

America is a shadow of what it once was.

America cannot compete in the world, on any level - especially in the "globalization" Americans so pushed for.

I personally, will be happy the day America falls, afterall, all that America is about is - purchasing crap products made in China, McDonald's garbage that is somehow called food.

America doesn't care about you.

Stop pretending you "love American. It doesn't love you.

Its a complete fraud.

Commenter: Mary
Im active duty military, and deployed. I was on a military defferment. I was told my defferment was to end 04/2010. I got a email from my credit card companies saying one was canceling my card, and the other one the intrest rate sky rocketed! Sallie Mae had cancelled my defferment, without notifiying me, reported it to the credit agencies as being late payments, and my score dropped 62 points with in a 2 month time frame! I called them to see what was going on, got hung up on 3 times, and then told its not their mistake and there is nothing they can do, except put a forebearance on my account. Guess i learned my lesson.

Commenter: Angela
I went to college to get a bachelor and master's degree in social work. My student loans were paid off evetually, but I could never find a full time social worker job that I liked or was good at. Mostly I could only get was part time work or grant funded positions (which means the money ran out after a couple of years.) Because the pressure was on to pay off my student loans I had to take jobs in other fields. Now I am starting a new career in nursing. I feel like I wasted my money going to school for social work. I pray that Ms. Moss and her daughter will be O.K.

Commenter: Alane
Dear God help! I have been trying to pay off my debt. After years of paying what I could each month Wells Fargo sold me (into slavery) to a colletion agent. But once I start debt never decreases...instead after a few years I'm sold to another collector who theatens until I agree to again make payments I cannot affort. Is anyone helping us? Does anyone care? The only way out is death...and that is sounding better with every thearting letter I receive.

Commenter: Denise
I appreciated the opportunity to be part of the PBS Now that aired on 6/19/09. My son and I have lived this nightmare for 3 years. Of course, we wished we had done things differently, but we trusted the school and Sallie Mae that they were in this for the student's best interest. I have read the stories on this blog and most have experienced what my son and I have gone through the last few years. I agree that my son should pay his debt, but at 18% for a private student loan. Come on. I thought student loans were supposed to be low interest and payments that are low and reasonable. It seems that the majority of writers on this blog have been scammed like we were into believing that a good job would follow a college degree. Those days are gone. I have considered moving with my son to another country, but why leave when I need to change the system to help future students. We must fight back, be informed, get involved, and please don't give up the fight for treatment that we deserve as American citizens. We did nothing wrong. We should not be treated as criminals for wanting an education and for a better life. This is what we have been told the minute we are old enough to understand the importance of education and a college degree. We need a government that is for the people and not acting in the interest of banks and other predatory lenders. Get involved with the fight to bring consumer protections back to these student loans so others will not have to go through what so many on this blog have experienced. It is all the truth, my son and I have lived it.

Commenter: Brian S Salado, TX
I borrowed over $17000 in education loans in the 1980's and early 1990's - a high level of indebtedness at that time to receive my bachelor and master degrees. I consolidated at 8% (an apalling rate by today's standards), made my payments on time, and paid my loans off early. I am thankful for my student loan and to my loan provider as this financing enabled me to pursue my higher education and become a productive member of society. THIS is the story of the 95% silent majority who took the time and the personal financial responsibility to understand and manage their debt.

Commenter: David
My wife and I consolidated our loans after completing school (Total borrowed = $30,000). Unfortuntely, our entry level postions never provided us enough income to survide and make student loan payments, so several years passed where we used deferments and forebearances. We finally exhausted all payment postponment options. Because of interest our student loan has increased to $106,000 and it takes just about every thing we can do to make our $700/month payment. With a young child and another special needs child, the student loan situation is killing us. In my opinion student loans are a conspiracy by the politicians and the student loan companies against the public. Please help us!!!

Commenter: Change
We need to get red of the people who are controlling our congersmen, our gov. They are the same people who are controlling the media (our minds and preception of what reality is). They are also the same people who are on the other side of our loans collecting interest and acting as if gov bailout is realy needed. Look we pay enough taxes, we need not to be in debt to get an education and serve our selves and our country. This is a mind game, it is not just their practice of sucking the blood out of your flesh, it is a tradtion of theirs to enslave the minds of the masses and bend their wills to their desires. We need a change, and you know what we will never get it because we have gone stray for too long. They worked us realy good, after all it is a tradtion.

Commenter: No resolutions offered here
On this message board I see a lot of gloating, finger pointing, judgment, and bitterness.

If you are not giving an account of your student loan story, how about offering some constructive advice and council on how to successfully pay these loans off without being gouged.

"Don't go to school if you cannot afford it."- really? Is this your sage knowledge you're passing on?

It used to be that a household could survive on one income, put money in the bank, buy a house and a car.
Hardly true today, and in addition you have banks aggressively marketing young people loans and credit cards just to tap the market.

We're not making this up people. This problem is just as real as the sub-prime housing loans. The only difference is you can write the mortgage off in bankruptcy. Not so with student loans.

Even if you were lucky enough to escape student loans, how many of you are guilty of taking a sub-prime mortgage? Is the housing crisis real enough to you, or just a country of people whining about having to pay?

Commenter: Stephanie
I'm a graduate student in my early 40s, currently ABD (All But Dissertation), and carrying about $100K in student loan debt. I started grad school in the hope of making a better life for myself after finally getting out of a decade-plus long bad marriage and suffering a bout of severe depression. Five years later, I see the "better life" was but an illusion. I now see the truth - that I will most likely spend the rest of my life at my current standard of living: driving cars with mileage over 100K, secondhand clothing, $10 haircuts, vacations and travel completely out of the question, etc., etc. It is now apparent that home ownership will never be even a remote possibility for me - paying my student loans will preclude any possibility of making mortgage payments. And it is highly likely that I will have to work into my 70s to pay off those loans. Retirement? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I absolutely expected going into graduate school that I would temporarily need to live a highly frugal lifestyle. It never crossed my mind that I might wind up with one for the rest of my natural lifespan.

I have heard it said that we are the first generation in many generations who can expect to have a lower standard of living than our parents did. That is certainly going to be true for me, and from what I have been reading on forums here and elsewhere, it is going to be or already is true for millions more.

A recurring theme I see in these comments is regret for ever having decided to pursue higher education in the first place. How heartbreaking, and how tragic that this is the message that an increasing number of young people will be hearing in the near future. How many potential Einsteins, Picassos, Madame Curies, and Bachs will we lose because youngsters dare not go to college in the very justifiable fear they will spend the rest of their lives as indentured servants to student loan companies?

In my darker "X-Files" moments, I start to believe there is a conscious effort on the part of The Powers That Be to a)undermine the education of the populace (e.g., making higher education something only the truly wealthy can afford), resulting in a citizenry that cannot think critically and does not question the status quo; and b)rigging the system in such a way that the vast majority become part of a permanent underclass who are lifelong debtors/wage slaves and are too beaten down to even think about fighting back.

Good God, I hope I'm wrong.

Commenter: Bob Danforth
I had decided to go back to school and was given a great pep talk told I could definitely get in and handed a batch of papers to sign that would commit me to paying the school what would eventually cost about $50,000 and lay out a great career.

Before I signed committing to pay the money, I asked what loans grants etc were available as I do not have that sort of money. I was told that they would help me get what was represented to be mostly grants but I would have to actually commit to paying the Tuition first, before I could apply for the Grants.

They did such a good job of convincing me that I actually signed the papers, but after thinking it over realized that all their promises were talk and all mine were on paper. There was a 24hour escape clause and I took it just in time.

It is easy to think that a starry eyed student of lesser years would not have had the second thoughts soon enough. I am self taught in Engineering and Design and get paid half what those who have degrees get and often find myself doing their work in any case, and have a harder time finding that work.

That the many Vampires sucking our society dry might finally be pushed back in Health, Education, Military, Banking, and the myriad other ways more subtle was the Change I was hoping for.

Unfortunately I see more Audacity than Hope.

Commenter: Brandon Carriger
In early 2005 I decided to go back to school to obtain a second degree, but I needed help financing that degree. I decided to contact the financial aid department at the school I would soon be attending. Because I already have a degree, the financial aid representative automatically suggested that I get a Private Loan. They provided me a list of lenders and highly recommended that I go through Sallie Mae. I tried to gather as much information from my school's FA Reps as possible about all of the lenders on the list, but was continuously referred back to Sallie Mae and was told that they would be my best chance of getting funding. I decided to go with Sallie Mae at the recommendation of the school reps. After all was said and done, I took out two loans totaling about $62,000. Each loan having it's own high interest rate, one at 12% the other at 15%. The loan is now up to $83,000. Payments of over $1000 started within six months of me leaving school (I never completed my degree). At the time I was making only about $1200 a month. I called Sallie Mae and asked for a Forbearance of the loans. They agreed at a fee of $50.00 per loan. I was able to do this about three times before Sallie Mae finally denied my requests. This is when my troubles with Sallie Mae began. When I tried to contact Sallie Mae for help, the refused to do anything. I decided to ask to speak with a supervisor and was told by the Sallie Mae operator that there was no need for me to speak with a supervisor because they wouldn't do anything for me either. I was finally able to get a supervisor on the phone who automatically started badgering me about paying my loans. Asking, "why did you take out a loan if you weren't going to pay it back?" He also told me, "If you don't pay now, we will be forced to garnish your wages." The supervisor made a point to say this many times, continuously speaking over me when I tried to explain my situation. When I was finally able to explain that when it came to me paying rent and having food to eat or paying my loan, he replied with, "Well, I am going to put in your record that you are refusing to pay us because you feel that you have more important bills to pay!" When I protested, he just repeated himself. I tried to explain again, but was told one more time, "Why did you take out the loans if you're not going to pay them back?" At this point, I had had enough and told the supervisor to do whatever he wants to do and hung up.
After that ordeal I have tried to make a payment of whatever I could afford, which is between $25 and $50 a month. Sallie Mae has called me up to 10 times a day demanding payment in full. It has not been until recently that Sallie Mae offered a forbearance of the loans. I do not know what I am going to do when the forbearance runs out. I want to pay these loans back, but due to hours being cut at work and rent taking over half of my pay, I am financial unable to do so.

Commenter: Aimee Powell
I took out student loans in the late 1980s to help support myself and my infant daughter, so that I could continue on my college-bound path despite my unplanned pregnancy. I consolidated those loans in 1994; at that time, the balance was just over $33,000. Over the years since, family issues -- my mother's declining health, my husband's severe mental health concerns, and my children's needs -- left me looking for the relief that forbearances and deferments offered. My balance now stands at over $87,000, even though I have made payments periodically over the years. Due to health care expenses incurred, I recently filed for bankruptcy. New bankruptcy laws require that there be nothing left over in one's budget to pay back any debt (for chapter 7), but paradoxically student loan debt is still not dischargeable, generally.

While personal responsibility is certainly an issue, it must be remembered that many of us have taken what was offered to us by those servicing our loans when we contacted them to let them know of our difficulty. It's a great system for them -- you can't pay, they offer a year or two off, and at the end your payments are even harder to afford. Ultimately, you're out of options, your debt is insurmountably high, and there is no option left but to forego needed medicines, scrimp on groceries, and still be behind.

Commenter: carmen roa
I am a co-signer of my son's private studen loan, the lending company has from my perspective mis-informed me and now the loan is in default and I am having to pay the consequence of their actions.

I now found out that they do not have to answer to anyone but their Board of Directors. I wonder whose side are they going to be on.

Not to metion that my son also has a great deal of loans that have been consoladated but because of the job market in his field cannot pay back the loans.

Commenter: Valerie
I owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $190,000 for an undergrad, a law, and a master's degree. Nearly 66% of my monthly income goes directly to making loan payments. I consolidated with the Feds after they passed the Public Interest Loan Forgiveness law last year. I make the minimum payment; the income-contingent payment would actually be higher. According to them if I make the payments on time for 10 years I won't have any debt left to forgive. What is the point of the law then???? I'll still have a ton of private loans that aren't eligible and would have gotten ZERO benefit from the federal program.

Commenter: Brenda
I became ill during college and could not complete it, and then shortly thereafter I lost my job and was in default. Later when I had cancer, I still could not go Chapter 7 on my student loans. They are enormous and I can't even pay the interest anymore, so I spend my money instead on shelter and medical care and hopefully they won't garnish my paycheck more than I can afford. I'll never be free of debt. They even garnished my unemployment.

It wasn't worth it. I can teach myself and could have slowly worked my way to an associate's degree, but everyone tells you that you can't have a decent life without your B.S., and maybe it's true.

One thing is certain, this country can't compete technologically with countries willing to pay to send their bright students to study science and engineering at universities. We will see that we have overempahasized individual responsibility at the price of sacrificing the educational attainment of our entire society.

Commenter: Misty Rose
Dear President Obama:

We would like you to turn this around so that the predatory lenders are not making a mint off of us. It is unjust.


I graduated with my BA in '88 and MA in '90 and the original loan amount was $33,000. I have made payments but the current amount due after all these years later is well over $100,000.

You are our only hope for a debt-free life.

Please help!


Commenter: responce to SURPRISED BY LACK OF CARING
Right on!! I agree with you many of us where not lucky enough to have great jobs after college. Some of us where mislead by college counslers "YEAH YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT JOB ONCE YOU FINISH THIS COURSE JUST SIGN THE DOTTED INE ON YOUR LOAN. I was screwed big time my friend. I understand you completely. I signed and well after the school got their money it was like I WAS NO ONE THERE ANYMORE....Counce where not as nice....and well after a year or so this college was closed!!!! What do I do now,who would I turn to for a job search if they said they would be there for me after college and if I needed help getting to a GREAT JOB!!!! And for those who put us down for trying to better or lives well good for you hopefully yOU NEVER GET SCAMMED!!!!

Commenter: Liliana
I totally agree. I will never get debt free. I was making all my payments on time and well I moved and had no work. I called my lender and they said to me "SURE WE COULD HELP YOU WHILE UNEMPLOYED.WE'LL PLACE YOUR LOAN ON FORBARANCE(sp?)" and while it sounded perfect while I got back on my feet it was the worse thing I did!! Now I come to realize all the interest built up on my loan. So now my loan is more than what I borrowed! Then they worked with me on getting my loan interest down to 4.2 % and keep it there, which I thought was a grand idea because it would make my payments easier and I would pay this loan off faster. Well,this only got worse the $ 3,000.00 I had already paid where lost.Where who knows? maybe in their own personal pockets. They found one more fool that thought of getting the AMERICAN DREAM ACCOMPLISHED!!!! They explained to me what happened when they lowered my interest. Fancy words but more LIKE YEAH WE ARE GONNA RIP YOU OFF IN ORDER FOR YOU TO START ALL OVER AGAIN FROM SCRATCH WITH THIS GREAT INTEREST RATE. So I am screwed. I mean this is dealing with the government and we all take it serious and will do anything to pay off a debt. Even if we don't know what the heck they re telling you on the phone. So now after 12 years trying to pay this loan I feel ripped off BIG TIME. I realized that when I signed up for a college course I wasn't shown a video on the differances between the 2 loans available until I signed!! another NO NO for lenders and colleges!!!!! If I would have known then what I know now I would have never signed!!!! Government has your SS# and could get you when you miss a payment! They have access to your accounts and Tax Refunds. I don't want to loose what little I have to survive in these hard times.So I make the payments on time and well I have no future.I tried to get a bank loan but I get denied because it has taken me forever to pay the student loan. For this my credit is screwed for like when I have great grand kids!. What we do as individuals to get ahead in life to better our futures and in reallity we are getting screwed and not realizing it until it's too late. PBS was great to show this issue on tv and hopefully President Obahama CAN help us out of this!!!! It's not right that lenders are winning! I sure tell anyone I know to becareful when applying for loans. A PERSONAL BANK LOAN would probably work best.

Commenter: Michael Zahara
Our detainee at Gitmo have more rights that you do! At least they have access to the courts--you don't!

I was one of the persons on PBS NOW.

If you need help, have questions, are a borrower in distress and are trying to get a hold of me with your name and which state you are from on the subject line, and breifly tell me what you're going through.

I was the only person who worked for both SLM and it's Guarantor, United Student Aid Funds...I know how they robbed you and how you can help correct things.

No fee, I want nothing from you. I have helped hundreds around the country by telling you/them, what you need to do, who you need to call and the people in Congress who are repsonsible for letting these two voracious predatory lenders and voracious collectors rob what is left of your financial future.

Under the law, your only way out is your own death...I can help change that for you.

This happened for a reason, and was done deliberately to you becasue SLM and USAF bought Congress and thought none of you would ever find out.

Call me, or have your counsel contact me. I'm here to help!

Michael Zahara

Former SLM/USAF employee--Las Vegas

Commenter: Joanne Jarvis-Owens
Sallie Mae is causing psychological depression for me. I'm in constant fear of lossing my modest home. A few months ago I discovered my loan of 30,000 has ballooned up to $50,000. No wonder I never hear from them. I even called to tell them I do not want a forebearance, but I believe I'm in one now.

I have had a lucrative job in 10 years. My son became disabled and I had to work part time or close to home. I have no husband or support system. Just me and my son. What can I do? I want to pay them off, my son needs me at home. I don't want to lose my house.

I've called to ask them what can I do. The so easily tell me I can get a hardship forebearance, but I don't want one.

Please help!!

Commenter: Amy
I understand what it's like to eat peanut butter sandwhiches everyday because I can't afford anything else. However, I am being proactive about my $116,000 student loan. My husband and I live off of my 30K salary and contribute his 32K salary to the loan. It will take 4 years of peanut butter sandwhiches, no television, no phone service, cars that are falling apart, hand me down clothing, going without, coming up with creative things to do without spending money, to get the loan paid off. But, I am taking responsibility for my actions. I TOOK OUT THE LOAN knowing I would have to pay it back. It sucks, don't get me wrong, but all of us took out the loans ourselves. Do I think college was a mistake? Absolutely. I went to a very well known art school and got my BFA in Interior Design. I can't find a job in my degree. I currently work two jobs making less than I should have been starting out with after graduation. College doesn't promise you a better life. I agree the system is broken, but that doesn't excuse us from our responsibilities. I'd rather my life suck for 4 years than for it to suck for the rest of my life.

Commenter: Peggy
I was so moved and upset by the story of that young mother buried in debt that I had trouble sleeping. I kept seeing her face, and wanted to do something - anything - to help. Then I spent this evening reading the heartbreaking stories of other "debtors" on this blog. I worry for my young nieces, so full of hope and excitement as they head off to college.Will this be their payoff, too, for buying into the myth that college will be their path to success and security? I paid my loans off in the 70's at $40 a month. What has happened to our nation since then? I can't help but agree with one writer that this is natural outcome of a society where disparities in wealth are so obscenely out of balance.

Commenter: ron fowler
After default, the interest and penalities have made it impossible to pay off these student loans...Its been twenty years now and I until the day I die will have a bad credit rateing... kinda getting used to haveing not much, but if I had to do it all over again I would of never gone to college all its taught me is that student loans are big money makeing business that prey on the young and navive person thinking some how that they would get a head of the game by getting a college degree.. there is still hope for some who still are in college Look at Bill Gates:::: a college DROP OUT

Commenter: Johnny Blade
I would propose a protest be made in every state at the same date, in front of the student assistance operations. If there is a loud cry from those of us who have fallen into this trap they will have to change their evil ways of love for money and deception of humanity...covertness. be it known


Commenter: Peter O'Lalor
In the United States a group has been established to provide a voice for student loan and educational reform. We at CEDR (Citizens for an Educated and Democratic Republic) have contacted all Senators and Representatives with a BILL for student loan reform. In this 18 page BILL are facts and figures gathered from substantive information useful in our challenge to unconstitutional laws. We have also recommended 29 separate laws to support our reasoning.

The current bills being proposed to alleviate the problems in the area of student loan legislation are unsatisfactory and only help the student loan creditors. The present legislation has caused grave harm to many citizens and their families. For many, their struggles have continued for decades, taking a toll on their marriages, health, and an increasing inability to live and survive in a worsening economy.

At the present time, there is no relief. The present legislation provides for creditors making tremendous profits at the expense of too many citizens. These citizens have spiraled down to poverty level and are under great stress because they do not see an end in sight to their student loan debt problem. Many have moved out of the country or gone off the grid. We want them to know we are pro-active and empathize in their expatriation.

Please contact us at Citizens for an Educated and Democratic Republic if you would like a copy of this BILL in Adobe pdf. We encourage you to share it and contact your legislator about it.

Commenter: John Williams
I thought I was pretty smart until after I graduated with a masters degree and I realized that I had been scamed, thinking higher education was the best way to better myself.
Now I realize I should have got an associates degree in some tech field.

Commenter: Free Lunch
Everyone.. pray that the self-righteous Nan Barlow graduates before she kicks the bucket.

Commenter: Terence McGinnis
In 2008, I had to postpone school after starting a new job. After five months I received a letter from Sallie Mae saying I was overdue and delinquent on my loan. I repeatedly tried to explain to the loan servicing agent I had 6 months grace period and I it had only been five months. She said I have to options pay the delinquent amount or she could easy bring the account current by doing forbearance. I took the forbearance option because I did not have the money pay my delinquent loan which was not really delinquent nor did I have the time or energy to proving to them I was still in my grace period. After watching the show I which I would not have let them push the forbearance option. I have loans with Sallie Mae and Wachovia. Wachovia has always been great. I would discourage anyone from using Sallie Mae

Commenter: Chris land
Ok -has anyone heard of going part time? I mean save , take one or two classes at a time - that you pay cash for?
I feel bad for folks here, but how can anyone think that coming out of achool with a 30yr mortgage could be a good idea???
My 20 yr old has almost 2 yes done at our local community college and will do more when she has saved enough to pay for another class.
Never ever co-sign a loan for anyone!!! Not even your kids.
One of the mnay themes here are those getting degreesto " help people". Please! Take out 100k in loans for a job that might pay 40k a yr if you are lucky.
I only ever had an AS but it was 100% paid for.

Sorry for the typos, can't use my iPod touch keyboard worth a darn

Commenter: Robert
My $177,000.00 student loan debt is going to put me in the poor house, as my payments take about 50% of my take home pay. Unless something is done ease the burden on students, people will never be able to afford to retire, thus causing a burden of the U.S. economic system. Even if I am able to retire, I will still have to be able to afford my student loan payment.

So much for having a better life. I encourage more and more people not to go to school unless they can afford NOT to take out loans!!

Commenter: Financial Aid Administrator
Other financial aid representatives have stated that students are told not to borrow and warned about borrowing. This is true, I have warned students about the perils of borrowing too much student debt, and however, what is a student to do to get a degree.
We may not hold a gun to their heads but yet our colleagues do. These students are told by recruiters and basic world economy that you need a higher education degree, that a BA is just par and that you should get an MA/MS. The tuition rates and cost of living is nothing to joke about, and most schools don't give enough grant money to come close to covering. Yes state school can be cheaper but unless you are just out of HS and can live at home while going to school, then you might not need to worry about rent, food, utilities. It is not easy to say go and work and go to school, I went to work at two jobs and went to school and it was not easy and i'm still in student loan debt. Lenders and Schools need to get their acts together. Just because the govt gives increases in grant money and makes it easier to get student loans doesn't mean that the school should take it as an ok to raise tuition. As this article stated, school increases in tuition were more than inflation and you do not see it being used to better the education, books are extremely expensive and the schools cover no part or help in anyway by trying to go to publisher and lower the cost. There can't be much over head, you have a teacher, a room, and students; the students bring their own paper, pay for their books and for the most part are being taught the same material year after year because the fundamentals do not change. So why does the tuition increase so much that federal aid alone cant help cover tuition, forcing students to go the way of private funding.
The system is damaged and needs a lot of repair.

Commenter: Arthur
Starting so called higher education rather late at
35, and being the only one in my family to do so as
a second generation American, should have had my
being allowed acces to the program's geared for such
a profile. The aid officers stated in private that those funds had been earmarked for only incoming
younger minority students!!!!ONLY. Sign for a loan
and they will do it; sometimes even double per term.
Here I am now retired with every refund check being
confiscated on a fixed income, and threatening phone
calls around the clock. !

Commenter: Herman A.
Our vaunted financial system over the last two decades has established and built wealth based on the availability of exceedingly easy/cheap credit to make our "dreams" a reality. They have picked the consumer clean using the "me having it now and paying for it somewhere down the line" mantra. It has happened to individuals, families, men and women,small businesses and corporations. Schools enticed by students seeing dollars in their future careers increased their tuition beyond the "high heavens" yearly and still do! This has been an unmitgated disaster for our country. No limits, avarice and greed up and down the line . . . NO SHAME! We try looking into the mirror but, we only see ourselves as the blame and turn away. Gov't and those we elected into gov't betrayed the country but, they were bought and sold by the highest bidder; Democrate and Republican leadership alike have failed the nation.

Commenter: dan
Dont stress collectors. Your credit is already ruined they can do nothing more!!

Commenter: Amanda
Obama should read these stories. He thinks that everyone in the country should go to college. What happens when everyone has a degree and the debt that goes with it? Who is going to hire everyone at an increased salary that is supposed to go with a college education? It's ridiculous to think that every person in the United States needs to go to college. Even if college was free, the degree would mean nothing because everyone would have one.

Commenter: Beth
I have two Stafford subsidized loans. I have made all payments on time, w/o deferrals or forbearances. I have already paid 24% more in total interest than in total principal. WTF!

Commenter: student aid administrator
Although I feel for the person the program featured, It's rather difficult for me to understand how she would not have know what her student loan debt it, since the student aid office would provide her with an award letter listing such loans, in addition to the lender/lender's servicer doing so. Lenders and guarantors are required under the law to notify the student accordingly, and much of the correspondence she recieved was probably in that vein. Further, she would have been required to complete entrance and exit counseling with the school to assert her knowledge and assent of understanding of the terms and conditions of the loans she accepted. Of course, she was under no obligation to accept the loans, although, of course, at a private university (and many publics now, unfortunately) loans are almost certainly part of the mix for paying the tuition bill.

I completely agree, however, that there needs to be a concerted effort towards student financial literacy. As a professional student aid administrator, I'm actually working on a document to provide an annotated bibliography of print and media resources on the subject (which will include your program now).

The real issue needs to be the focus on the growing private loan environment, with the exorbitant interest rates that make them predatory lending practices. The "debate" over FFELP and Direct Loans simply obfuscates this critical need, especially, as you noted in your program, the role of the private sector in the federal student loan program will not necessarily go away, even if the Obama proposal passes Congress (right now, it looks like the Senate, with some Senators highly protective of state interests in this market, will be the Waterloo).

Just as the creation of the "environmental justice" movement spawned sensitivity to the siting of infrastructure in predatory means, the same needs to be done to effect the development of "financial justice".

Commenter: Karen
When I graduated with my undergraduate degree I had $25,000 in government loans and managed to pay the amount down to about $8000 in eight years with an income of $30,000. Granted, I lived with my parents for a number of years, did not eat at restaurants were dishes cost more than $6, went to $10 hair salons, didn't buy a car, bought used clothes, and took no vacations. Now I am in repayment of my graduate loans which are in the six figure range and I'm working at a job that is paying me less than what I made with a BA degree. While personal responsibility is a valid argument to make, majority of students did not use their loans for spring break vacations in Nice. I don't understand why higher education has gotten so expensive, how did our government permit the practice of allowing students to borrow huge amounts of money, and why does our society keep talking about the value of education and educating the youth yet do nothing to help alleviate tuition costs and essentially blame students for their debt situation?

Commenter: Antonietta Dumeng
I am deaf.In 1995 was attempting to get off welfare and care for my three children by going to school and getting my GED then B.A. degree. I received my B.A and then went to graduate school at Columbia teacher college.I was unable to complete the program, due to my hearing and sign language interpreter problems I encountered in the school .I was kicked out out college because I was unable to keep A/B average, I already took out $30,000 loan. I went back on welfare for a while after that. I am now employed and the Sally May loan company is garnisheeing my wages and taking income taxes, and any extra money I have. I was kicked out of college not allowed to finish. I wanted to complete education and then I would have been able to pay back money. Loan company is harassing me even though they are getting their money from my wages. they told me they will come after me until I'm dead. they will take my retirement, old age, disability money forever. When I was finished paying $25,000 the company put the $25,000 back on my garnishment amount.I had to start paying all over again from the beginning I need help.

Commenter: C Wiseman
My daughter and son both had to borrow money to get through college. The Direct Student loans available to freshman are capped at 1500/semester and then go up to 3000/semester sophomore through senior years. Tuition and cost of room and board reached $46000/year for my daughter and close to 10000/year for my son. they are both in debt as high as 120,000 now and the interest is mounting. The predatory lenders -- Great Lakes -- and Sallie Mae -- and even the Direct Student Loans that are managed by Citibank are usurious...these are bankers -- again like the thieves that we have seen rape and pillage the international economies -- rob and steal from kids...they are robbing these young of their futures...they are enslaving these young people who have to get a college education to get a job -- and they are robbing our nation of the kind of educated class that is necessary for us to compete in the global marketplace. This is shameful...and to learn that Sallie Mae is being rewarded with a greater role in the student loan business is shocking. Where is advocate for what used to be the lower middle class? I thought that these were the people that the OBama administration were going to protect? How can this administration then give companies like Sallie Mae the power to continue these practices and make money hand over fist?

Commenter: PJ
That story above is NOTHING compared to the corruption and the lengths that Sallie Mae will go to. They defaulted my loan in error while I was still in school, took back the loan and quietly tacked on over $36,000 in collection fees. I didnt find this out for over 5 years. By then the collection fees ONLY - ballooned to over $72,000. Went to consolidate -they would not take them off - EVEN THOUGH THEY RECOGNIZED THEY MADE THE ERROR OF THE DEFAULT IN THE FIRST PLACE. I was studying to be a chiropractor. Then after I graduated, I thought I would rent an office and open a practice - NOT - I COULDN'T RENT AN OFFICE BECAUSE THEY HAD PUT THE DEFAULT ON MY CREDIT REPORT - NO ONE WOULD RENT TO ME. So I was stuck for all those years working for pennies for someone else struggling to pay. Tried to get a lawyer to fight it all only to find out that it has to be a lawyer that can arbitrate in federal court. I have talked to every single lawyer that I found out can do this only to be told by EVERY FIRM that they couldnt take the case. WHY???? because of a conflict of interest. Apparently, Sallie Mae has these firms doing work for them so they won't have to even entertain the cases. CLEVER HUH?

Getting garnished by Sallie Mae,

Commenter: Monique from Detroit, MI
I just watched the episode of NOW concerning the student loan debt problem. I am also a victim. I probably have about $100,000 in student loan debt, including subsidized, unsubsidized, private loans, etc. that I feel I will never be able to pay back. I am teacher, so I had no choice but to borrow money to go back to school to become certified. I am expericing much of what others are with the phone calls that don't stop. How do you jugle other personal bills, car note and insurance, and pay back student loans on less than $40,000 per year. Thank goodness, I have the option to live at home with a parent, because if I didn't I would be living out of my car. This problem is becoming a serious issue and I really don't know what I am going to do.

Commenter: CT
I too had a student loan and paid it off early, still living like a poor student. That was 30 years ago, now that Congress changed the 6 year statute of limitations on student loans. The dept of education is free to do whatever they like with loans paid or not.
About a year ago the dept of education came after me saying I did not pay my loan and if I could not come up with records from 30 years ago (from banks that have been bought and sold 10 times over) that I had only one option to pay the loans all over again with fees and interest of 30 years!
The collection agencies garnish your wages, charge up to $2000 then garnish $2200, send $200 to the dept of education and keep the $2000, then stop the garnish, pass it on to another collection agency then it start all over again.
I am retired on fixed income and am nearing end of life. This congress won't be getting many more of my votes.

Commenter: Ian
How did we get from the America we once were to the mess we are in today? That's what I want to know. Even some third-world countries offer free education and health care to all their citizens. We are living in the most powerful country in the world. Is this some sort of bad joke?

Commenter: jeff
To Cheryl Vowell,
Your debt dies with you.
Collection companies will still try to call you and harass your relatives. Also most states have consumer laws about how many time a collection agency can call.
Find out what they are in your state. They are not allowed to harass you, it's the law and these companies knowingly break it.

The whole thing is a mess. Our country is a joke.
No health care, predatory loans to go to school and don't get me started on how we treat the vets.

School should be paid for with free grants to those who qualify and low interest loans. 2 to 5% with 1 to 2% penalties is your late. There should be a grace period of a year so one can get a settled after graduation. If you can't pay due to financial problems then you should be able to have a forbearance with the interest frozen and a small penalty of say 1 or 2% on the principle.

This seems reasonable to me. In most European countries education is free or very cheap.
For example in the Netherlands the average student pays about $600 per year for school.

For those who think this is the greatest country in the world, wake up. Our country is fast becoming a third world country and it will soon resemble one with a wealthy class and a poor uneducated class, a majority. This will lead to turmoil and chaos.

Stop predatory lending NOW!

Commenter: Give me Debtors Prison
I would gladly go to debtors prison for 5 years if I could get this student loan forgiven in that time!

Hahaha.. well.. in the meantime, indentured servitude will have to do.

Commenter: Lisa
I see many stories here describing how the loans cannot be paid because of too low income. That tells me the education was not worth that investement.
We have to change our money culture. We are a debt society, we take on huge loans for school because we're told we should. We have insanely large mortgages because we're told we deserve that house we can't afford. The housing bubble burst, good, we'll reset to reasonable prices and responsible loan requirements. The student loan bubble should burst, too. We can adjust our mind-sets and look to our fine local state and community colleges.

Commenter: MS in NYC Again
Wanted to add to my previous comment.

I just did some calculating and tallied up payments. Turns out after 10 years I have paid 80K on my original loans totaling 66K @ 8.25%. My current balance is 88K. My last payment is due in 2025, just around my 65th birthday.

I'm a young professional (currently out of work, but paying my loan anyways for fear of accrued interest on my unsubsidized loans) I usually earn well, in the $80k range as a graphic designer.

As the first in my family with a college degree, education has created many opportunities for me.

However, because a large portion of my paycheck goes to student loans, I don't have the resources to purchase a house or car. I have to sit on the sidelines as co-workers and friends who earn equally seize these opportunities. It's also frightening to potential husbands because they fear having to assume the debt.

It's money I could be saving for retirement, purchasing property, or generally pumping into the economy. Instead, it's all going to the bank.

Now, I fully intend to pay. I assumed the responsibility. I just want to point out what an inescapable interest cycle the loan has me in until nearly the day I literally die.

Can all the those who suggest it is entirely the fault of the student see the flaw in the financial model?

Sallie Mae says it is in compliance with federal law. This may be so, but the law clearly needs to be modified.


Commenter: Diana Munkacsi
Of the $460 I pay every month for the next 30 years, ONLY $50-$75 of that goes toward my principal! OVER $390 OF MY PAYMENTS GO TO INTEREST FIRST!!!!! I have not seen my principal go down! This is how people that don't have money end up! The affluent'S children go to Ivy League schools, get Ivey League jobs and don't have to worry about debt! The average American ends up paying for the rest of their lives and struggling! I will not push my kids to go to school because it is NOT WORTH IT!


I went to school hoping to make a better life for myself. My family always told me how important it is for me to finish college. When I finished I owed $42k. I had some problems with a pregnancy and was not able to work. When I contacted Sallie Mae, my principal had jumped from $42k to $63k! I had defaulted and was charged over $20k in interest and penalties.

I am now current and paying my loans at $460 per month until the year 2038! I cannot get a job as a mental health counselor, for which I have a degree and I took all the loans out for, because I cannot make enough to pay my student loans and and the rest of my bills. I am now an admin assistant! I could have had the job I have now without a degree and not have this huge debt hanging over my head for the rest of my life!


Commenter: Eman Amen
When I graduated from an Ivy League school about 30 years ago, financial aid and student loans were available in a reasonable way. Those were the saner days. But these days before going to college or grad school one might first be wary of being tortured for life.

The truly incredible thing to wonder at is WHY so many people put up with this situation? Why not band together and call a nationwide student strike. Band together and STOP paying all student loans for the period of One Year! This will put the fear of god in those dirty lousy bankers. And only then will things change.

Why do students today, as well as past students in debt, continue to be led like sheep to the slaughter? Didn't you people learn anything when you attended college! No student strike? Then maybe you deserve what you get.

Now get out there and protest, protest, PROTEST!

Commenter: Shari Silverman
Something concerned me during your broadcast: You mentioned that Sallie Mae and some other private companies is are going to help manage government loans. Did I understand that correctly? Have they already started?

I am currently paying off student loans. So far, I've been keeping on top of it. But I have Direct Loans, which has been trustworthy. From your broadcast and what I've heard, however, I might not be able to if Sallie Mae takes over. I still have a little under $25,000 to go. My monthly payments wipe me out since I'm an archaeologist, so don't command a high salary. A private company's tactics could really get me in trouble.

Commenter: AmberDru
I took out a $5,000 student loan in the 80's.

The school told me the government was having banks process the loans. They took $500 off the top- which I now think was prepaid insurance if I defaulted. I didn't have a car or phone and comming from a poor family (the first "house" I remember had a dirt floor and no indoor bathroom)I didn't spend on anything unnecessary.

My science degree did not result in a science job or a job that paid enough to make a rent and car payment- much less rent,car and student loan payment.

I never made much money and at times was unemployed.
I rented a room and had 3 part time no benifit jobs-which I paid taxes on.

The loan had been sold several times so the number of companies trying to collect the same loan increased.

When I could pay it back- I ONLY PAID THE GOVERNMENT! Interest rates were 8% at that time so my loan dramaticly increased. I had a paper- from the U.S. government saying the loan was paid in full so when numerous companies called for the same loan I told them it was paid and didn't care what they thought or said. I cann't imagine trying to pay multiple sources since they kept selling THE loan and even after it was sold the same people who sold it were still trying to collect it. Paying one would not have stopped the others from trying to collect. But paying the government eventually did get them to stop.

Everyone I know is over educated for the jobs they have. Many people with science degrees cann't get science jobs- I've heard the "We need more people studying math and science" since the 70's. It's not true. I heard actuaries were in demand also not true, after passing the first exam I could not even get my foot in the door.

Construction pays more than office work which requires a dress code and microsoft certifications.

Illegal aliens roofers in my neighborhood make more than I do- and no taxes!

Commenter: Nan Barlow
We have become a culture that wants everything whether we can pay for it or not. Our government also follows this cavalier philosophy. These young adults feel they are entitled to NOT meet their financial obligation, adopting a "poor pitiful me" attitude. In my day, no one went to college unless they could pay for it! This meant delaying the educational opportunity by working first, or working days and going to school nights. In my case, I could never afford to go to college until now. I am 67 and a college student - something I have waited a lifetime to become! I am a straight A student and grateful for every class I am able to take. There is no free lunch, not now or ever! That's life kids.

Commenter: hotmail
After Vietnam, I put my soldier husband through law school (we had three kids, ages 3, 6, 12) and I had a written agreement he'd put me through med school afterward. I kept my end of the bargain until he had a secure job and could support the family. He filed for divorce soon after I had my acceptance. Because there was no property do divide, my divorce lawyer filed arguments to enforce our agreement (Marvin case extends contract rights to unmarried partners). The California Medical Association supported my case with amicus briefs. I lost. Guess unmarried partners have more rights than married ones.

The court issued a defacto order compelling me to take out student loans by reducing family support to the minimum and terminating it at graduation. I had to use these loans to pay for school AND to support three children who had a father earning six figures. I fled the jurisdiction and have never looked back. I'll go to jail before I repay these loans.

PS The EU doctors (also Swedes, Danes, Scots) I work with paid nothing for medical school educations. American's could learn something from their more enlightened allies.

Commenter: In debt to my mistake in getting an education.
I have a debt that has risen to over $120,000.00 with interest and repayment starts in 5 months and i cannot find a job that will pay enough to make the payments. I am considering a move out of this country.

This would not have happened if i had not been promised money from a private source to pay back the loans. But to date their finical situation has drastically changed and now i am stuck with the debt.

Commenter: NYPHD
There is a connection between this issue and the shrinking middle class. The subject of your report thought a graduate degree would give her a better life for herself and her daughter. I thought the same thing about being a college professor. I am not in the same dire circumstance as your subject, but I do know that I will be in debt for decades to come and my family lives paycheck to paycheck praying to stay healthy and employed.

I also know that the victims of these loans would in th eones in past generations that became the consumer class, the people that are so vital to our economy. I know that having $700 more each month I would buy a car, purchase a computer, save for retirement, maybe for the first time in twenty years take a vacation, and have some to invest in the stock market.

I also know that NOW could follow this story with the issue of public university funding. In the 1960s up to 80% of public colleges were funded by the taxpayer. That is no longer the case. A college is lucky with 15-20% state funding.

On a related note, some states are begining to take money that students pay in tuition and divert it to non-related state expenses. What that means is that our best and brightest young people are taking out these loans to subsidize state budgets to keep taxes for the wealthest citizens low.

Commenter: JOE
I didn't go to College I went the military rout. But I married my wife who has an MS and had to help her pay off her student loans.
Now I have grown children getting ready for college and the student loan situation is much worse. I'm advising my children to work as you go. Don't take on loans. I think we need to make our higher learning institutions more conducive to this method.
I'm teaching my children: NO CREDIT CARDS, NO LOANS, NO DEBT, Hard work pays off.

Commenter: PAM
I took a loan for $4000.00 back in 1987. Suppose to be for books, housing, food etc. However when the check arrive the school made me sign this over to them. Later found out that the school was stealing grant checks and loan checks. Including my grant check.
Well in 1995 Sallie Mae took over loan could not afford to pay. Since then, I have paid their collection companies. Then they add more interest onto the loan. I also have it on my credit report saying "Loan paid by insurance" Then they changed my account# and the dollar amount by one dollar and it started all over again. Anyways my $4000.00, will be over 34,000.00 by the time it is over. Sallie Mae just cares about making money. Nothing else. Do not ever get a loan from them.

Commenter: lee bennett
I of saw the program on STUDENT LOAN SINKHOLE? On6.19.09. So I'm now writting. My story is way to long to put here,But I feel that I was take advantage by the student loan counsellors/advisers.I was ignorant ofany thing to do with college. I had only the GED when I went to college.I began with,14,000, is now 90,000.I,m part time, own a car, rent a room. Have no money in the bank,I just got a Cell phone. BUT all the trouble I,ve gone through with these loans, I would never have taken them out. My son did not go to college, now has a job making 30$ an hr. I with my college , make 13$ an hr.Now they take my taxes,said they willtake my medical ins.and my s.s. when I retire, I,m all most on the street. If they do this I will be homeless with nothing,except maybe my car.There is lots more to this story.

Commenter: Mandy
This is in response to Carol who stated that private schools expect their students to take out loans. Once the FAFSA is filled out, the school determines what your family, including the student, can afford to pay and works their financial aid offer around this number. Non-subsidized loans are offered as options in the financial aid package if you do not wish to pay cash for your portion. The parent or student is never obligated to take out the loan. There are many students with high GPAs applying to private schools and the colleges cannot possibly offer full scholarships to everyone.

Commenter: Vickyv
My student loan went into default due to financial hardship after Hurricane Katrina, it has now gotten out of control. Fees added to the loan have raised the balance over 40% I am paying a collection agency 1/3 of my take home pay to maybe qualify for another program in September. At this rate I will be dead for 15 years and still owing money. There has to be a solution for people like us or the burden of a population aging into poverty is what America has in store for the future. When you run the numbers on what Medicaid and pubic nursing homes will have to pay it far outweighs forgiving student loan debts.

Commenter: Marloes
I graduated in 2008 from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. I borrowed $11,625 federally and now owe $18,000. I also took separate loans with citibank (which totaled $13,700 and are now at $15,500) because I was told that I could only take out so much federally. I'm starting my life $33,500 in debt. My boyfriend and I are trying to pay both our loans off together, and he has another $27,000 to add on to that. $60,500 until I can start living freely. It was my understanding that a higher education would improve my future, not cripple it.

Commenter: Abdul C.
What ever happen to self responsibility? Many student take program or major in subject that are plain stupid and expect to be top of the world after they are done. I had student load and I paid it off in full. I was able to do that because I majored in engineering and got a job right after school that payed well.

Commenter: Joy
What we need is BANK reform.

The bailout our government gave the banks?

They were supposed to help people with that money by giving out loans.

An article posted in the NY TIMES nearly immediately after the bailout complained - saying the bailout money instead of going for loans - was BEING KEPT BY THE BANKS.

Our government handed these banks BILLIONS with no strings attached.

And did they help the US?


They helped themselves and then once again tightened up their purse strings.

I have ONE credit card - ONE.

It's small and I keep it for emergencies.

In January they raised my rate to 18.9%.


When I asked them WHY that is - I'd made no late payments - had no late fees - had always done things properly. When it came down to it a member of my bank said to me - we DO have to pay our employees.

Bottom line?

It's all SELFISHNESS and GREED and these institutions are THIEVES.

Oor government is letting them get away with it and NOT taking care of YOU and ME.


Commenter: Paula
I didn't educate myself about student debt and took on the full amount that was suggested by my school. I transferred from a community college, which I smartly paid for with my own, part-time worker salary. By the time I finished two years at the university, though, I had $38,000 in debt, which I'm still just paying the interest on because I don't make enough to pay for the $500 monthly payment in addition to my living expenses.

I was an Art History major, hoping to have a career in museum collections, but even though I had done lots of (non-paid!) internships and volunteer work, I still did not have enough experience, and no one was hiring, anyway. Now, I work in administration at a community college. I would love to go to grad school but am hesitant because I'd have to take on more debt.

I regret not seeking financial guidance before taking such a huge financial responsibility or seeking alternative ways to fund my education. These past few years of life after college and living with such a burden has been a great learning experience, though.

Thank you for doing a feature on student loan debt and starting a dialogue on this. I feel like I can't talk to my friends about this because they had made sound decisions while I'm saddled with my bad ones.

Good luck to everyone struggling with this. I hope that you eventually find yourselves able to comfortably pay your loans off.

Commenter: Sam
The student loan machine is a huge bureaucracy run by those who are concerned with the proper handling of their complicated machine and are hardly aware of the students. As paradoxical as it sounds, this is none of their concern. Technique and intellect when not balanced with feelings and reason will inevitably lead to life defeating policies and destruction. A good example is the case of defaulted loans where perversely and in my opinion sadistically, students who couldn't afford to pay back their loans in the first place are penalized an additional 25% or more and then are saddled with interest rates ranging from 8% - 19%. Quite easily, this situation spirals out of control and a vicious cycle is created where the student is likely to live with this debt for the rest of their lives – affecting not only his/her life, but the lives of their partner, children, parents and ultimately society.

Considering the consequences, do we support a society that feels, that sees and reasons both with the mind as well as with the heart? In short, that is human. Or, on the other hand, do we prefer to trust our future to the machine with its team of technical-bureaucrats? Administrators faraway that don't see the people or families whose lives they have destroyed.

Commenter: DAVID

Commenter: Brian Patrick
The US Senate and Congress has to start standing up for the majority in this country. These student loans are just one example. Don't be fooled these stories are stories of the majority. You are not a special case. Your government doesn't care about you unless you got them elected with your money! Your vote is not your voice. Your vote is not your permission for the government to do what they think is right, it is for them to do what you think is right!

Commenter: Brian Webb
Went to Western Michigan in 1998 on mostly Federal Loans. Left WMU in 2003 due to family illness and loss of financial support. Entered Forbearance in 2004 unable to pay due to good but low paying jobs. Was contacted last fall to enter a 10 month repayment plan to get me out of default. When I left School in 03' My loan total was barely 30,000 dollars, by 2007 they were upwards of 48,000, just due to interest. I am now 7 months into a 10 month program. Paying 350 dollars a month, over 1/3 my take home pay. Filed for Bankruptcy in early 09'. Behind on bills, rent, and moving to a smaller home. Collect corp who collects for the DOE doesn't care, I have to make every payment on time or start over. They will not lower my payment. The know I haven't been paying rent or bills on time or at all but insist that's what I have to do. Even encourage being late with others.

Commenter: Carol
In looking for a college for my son, I was told by all of the private colleges that several thousands of dollars in student loans each year was what they expected each student to be willing to do in order to attend their school. When I explained that I was looking for my son (with some help from us) to be able to pay as he went and not go into debt (he had a 3.93 GPA and high SAT scores), I was told by one of the schools that he must not value his education if he wasn't willing to borrow the extra 10K that we would have needed to come up with for him to attend that particular school.

The problem isn't just predatory lenders, it is also colleges who expect their students to graduate with tens of thousands worth of debt from their institutions. On the financial aid packages that were offered to my son they even list the loans as part of the financial aid that they are offering. This isn't financial aid it is DEBT. The colleges should not be listing it as part of their financial aid package. The only exception should be for the subsidized loan, which has special rules so that the student can afford to pay it back and not increase how much they are indebted by it while in college or unemployed.

Commenter: Joy
The banks and creditors don't care about you.

WHY should you care about them?

Get a phone that's prepaid.

They won't hound you again - at least not that way.

Commenter: Richard Walker
It's sad to see what a historical low mark of greed American has gone through. Is there no shame? Is this the swine flue of human decency?

Commenter: Dale Pavich
Our two kids owe a combined $300,000 dollars in student debt. We have taken over $100,000 of debt, in addition, which has resulted in refinancing our home. Our daughter is a 2nd year emergency medicine resident and pays two thirds of her take home pay for her s.l. payments. Our son has a B.A. in chemistry and must pay an equivalent amount of his monthly earnings. The private lenders for some of these loans have interest rates in the double digits and severe penalties for late/delinquent payments resulting in rising pricipal balances. Consolidation to lower rate loans is not available at this point, so there is a growing sense of hopelessness and despair in our family as a result, to the detriment of all. Another legacy of the Bush administration we cannot afford.

Commenter: Claudia
Whether a student loan is discharged based on hardship is not automatically determined in the bankruptcy process. You must file a petition (called an adversary proceeding) to get a determination. I don't know if I can list the website here but you should be able to find the information by using a search engine. Don't forget to type in "sample".

Commenter: Lorraine Johnson
I have over 100,000 in student loans, therefore, I must stay in school half time for the rest of my life because of the outstanding balance. I can't pay the money back. What is the next step???

Commenter: Claudia
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I achieved a masters degree. I feel the school took advantage of my illness in allowing a BS and MA in fields I did not understand and would never work in. I've deferred repayment and allowed forebearance for years now. I was mailed a Discharge Application however you have to be totally and permanently disabled of which one does not use the same disability standards as social security disability rules. My wisdom years later...if you can't keep a job...don't spend money on an educaiton.

Commenter: Elizabeth
Reading through most of comments these is disheartening and shameful on the part of our government. However, looking closely at some of these comments (which are grammatically incorrect with spelling errors and wrong word usage,) is all the more tragic. The comments are supposed to be left by intelligent, college graduates. Really? I am happy to say that since I worked so hard in high school, I received a full ride to the state university. I graduated in four years (unheard of nowadays,) with TWO degrees.

To those people who criticize the "lower paying" jobs resulting from unimportant/ superfluous degrees, you are mistaken. The degree is not important; it is the real world knowledge and experience which you SHOULD get from going to college. Unfortunately, most students (at least from my university,) did not realize this and are probably writing all of the sad stories found on this page. College kids need to work, (even if part time at a terrible job - I have been working since I was fifteen!) through school to gain WORK experience. You cannot expect to get a high paying job when you have NEVER worked before. (Mommy and daddy actually do you a disservice when they pay for you to do whatever you want in college.) Go there to get an education and to gain experience, and I don't mean experiencing bar hopping. You have the rest of your life to kick back, IF you go to college with the right intentions. I have a well paying job because I have been with the company since I graduated from high school. I am not interning at the Corporate Office with a potential job at the end of my term.

There are ways to go to school for cheap. Look at scholarships - there are a MILLION scholarships out there, simply look! Scholarships for left-handed people, scholarships for first generation graduates… Do your research, apply for as much as possible, speak up for yourself to the scholarship office (that's what I did) and you will be able to comfortably survive, if not flourish. Good luck to everyone. God bless us if we do not educate our future… teaching children and more importantly adults proper English would be an immense improvement, as this comment page shows.

Commenter: Elizabeth
Reading through most of comments these is disheartening and shameful on the part of our government. However, looking closely at some of these comments (which are grammatically incorrect with spelling errors and wrong word usage,) is all the more tragic. The comments are supposed to be left by intelligent, college graduates. Really? I am happy to say that since I worked so hard in high school, I received a full ride to the state university. I graduated in four years (unheard of nowadays,) with TWO degrees.

To those people who criticize the "lower paying" jobs resulting from unimportant/ superfluous degrees, you are mistaken. The degree is not important; it is the real world knowledge and experience which you SHOULD get from going to college. Unfortunately, most students (at least from my university,) did not realize this and are probably writing all of the sad stories found on this page. College kids need to work, (even if part time at a terrible job - I have been working since I was fifteen!) through school to gain WORK experience. You cannot expect to get a high paying job when you have NEVER worked before. (Mommy and daddy actually do you a disservice when they pay for you to do whatever you want in college.) Go there to get an education and to gain experience, and I don't mean experiencing bar hopping. You have the rest of your life to kick back, IF you go to college with the right intentions. I have a well paying job because I have been with the company since I graduated from high school. I am not interning at the Corporate Office with a potential job at the end of my term.

There are ways to go to school for cheap. Look at scholarships - there are a MILLION scholarships out there, simply look! Scholarships for left-handed people, scholarships for first generation graduates… Do your research, apply for as much as possible, speak up for yourself to the scholarship office (that's what I did) and you will be able to comfortably survive, if not flourish. Good luck to everyone. God bless us if we do not educate our future… teaching children and more importantly adults proper English would be an immense improvement, as this comment page shows.

Commenter: Rich from Moscow, Idaho
Student loans should be government loans and they should be interest free. I cannot think of any better use of government funds that will produce better returns than an educated population.

Commenter: Imataxslave
I'm simply shocked at the number of older or returning students that are complaining about simple contract law. Some are even attorneys. Simply shameful. You signed a contract, you chose to return to college, it's your responsibility, period. I agree that there should be a review of predatory lending to teenagers, perhaps raise the requirement to enter such a contract to 21. I'm not completely heartless though, there's good news, the baby boomers will eventually have to retire. It's all cyclical, in the 80's physicist were pumping gas for minimum wage. $2.90/hr if I recall. The baby boomers' retirement demand on SSI and medicare will expose the 60 trillion elephant in the room and hyperinflation will erase the magnitude of your obligations. Just hang in there and let's hope when this happens,the many careless offenders in this comment section will not repeat their mistakes. And no, I'm not Republican. I'm centrist and advocate responsible living.

Commenter: A Social Worker
First of all, I have a Master's degree in Social Work and the pay is NOT that bad. My first year out of grad school in 2008; my starting pay annually was 46,000 a year and increased to 54,000 this year (in Georgia). I also work part-time because I am a LMSW at a pay rate of $40.00 a hour. The work is time consuming and it takes a caring person to do this job. I am 26 years old and I am happy with my career path. Social Work has a large field. There is a difference from a Social Worker and a person that works in human services. Human service positions are entry level position for experience; In Gerogia in order to be called or use the title Social Work you must attain a BA in Social Work or a Master's in Social Work.

Commenter: Jerry R
I feel so bad for all of these people. I am appalled at the fact that education costs much more than money - it costs lives. Education should be an inalienable right that should be more accessible, including things like health care and security. People should not be penalized for wanting to improve their lives and take a piece of the American Dream. With that being said, alot falls on the shoulders of the high school level of education for personal finance...we need to ensure that 18 year olds understand what terms of universities are. Another point is this: if you can't afford it, look for things you can afford. Maybe you have been accepted to a college that is perhaps beyond your financial means. There are many ways of getting around this. Why haven't some people thought of reducing costs by going to a community college first and then transferring to a 4 year institution? Also, I myself obtained a degree using the GI Bill. Military service offers lots of financial aid to those willing to serve for an enlistment of 4 years, or even a reserve duty as well. Finally, I think that student loans need to be treated as equals to any other type of loan - they should be inclued in bankruptcy protection and they should also be modifiable like mortgages have recently become.

Commenter: Sandra Berry
My lifetime profession (print retouching in photo labs) was fading out due to digital photography, so I returned to college to earn AA, BA,

Commenter: Born Again
I'll need to change my religion so that I can pay off my college loans after reincarnation.

Commenter: william P
I owe student loans and have been making my payments...barely..on another note...I worked for a private, for profit "college" in az that is part of the Career Education Corporation...and in my opinion it is a complete scam - the typical student came to this school to get a job in the gaming/video/graphic design field, they were not required to take any entrance exams at all and were encouraged to take out student loans...most of these students did poorly in high school and wouldn't get into traditional colleges so they answer the ads on tv and apply to these schools who are only too happy to sign them up as long as they qualify for student aid...why? because the companies that own these schools get the bulk of the student's financial aid, at inflated tuition short, these schools want bodies, not students, they overcharge them and the recruiters lie about the job opportunities available upon graduation...I was appalled at the lack of basic reading and writing skills (most not even at a 6th grade level,some were functionally illiterate)...I was pressured by the school administration to "dumb down" the tests and curriculum...when I started teaching my students to investigate their student loan obligations, I was summarily passed over for promotions and salary raises...a few students caught on and realized the scam for what it was and protested outside the school...sure enough, a stretch limo from the corporate offices would roll into the school, the fat cats would roll out, and the student protesters would disappear - either threatened with lawsuits or paid off...after two years of this bs I resigned in good concience....moral to the story? these colleges are a scam, backed up by big money politics and corporate lobbyists...they are fleecing the american people by raiding the student loan system for private gain,by employing predatory lending practices aimed at potential students who are already behind the educational eight ball, students who will graduate with a so called degree that is accredited by an obscure organization composed of, guess who? former employees of the Career Education Corporation...a degree that does not transfer to other colleges (except as an elective), and these students will graduate to find that the so-called $50,000 a year starting jobs promised by the recruiters are really $8-$10 an hour they default and who pays? YOU AND ME THE your congressional representatives and demand an investigation....or wait for the next 750 billion bail-out for student loans

Commenter: Cheryl Vowell
All I can say is I was 45 when I decided to go back to school. I had never had a credit card and did not owe anyone. Now, I am getting sick from the calls that never end. The threats have become so bad that I can not slepp at night. We had a flood the year I got out of school and the jobs dried up. I want to work, but who hires a fifty-three year old woman when there are so many younger kids available. My town has a surplus of very smart people. I worry that my only child will be in trouble if I die will this debt, even though she has her owe loans. If I haf only known, I would have stayed just the way I was. I do not want this diploma anymore and it has not helped me in any way. Thanks for listening.

Commenter: william robinson
the us department of ed. has taken my income tax returns for 30 years, they do not want to acknowlegde this fact. I do not have $60.00 per copy of my returns for 30 years, ( 1,800). i was unemployed for 20 years, now this agency is taking 15% of my income plus my income tax returns. this agency does not evan want to negotiate with me.

Commenter: Chuck Aswell
So student loan interest has risen at twice the rate of inflation. We bail out the auto industry and the financial institutions.....but not the "best and brightest" who will potentially comprise the future middle class?! Nothing much is ever said about the criminal and unjustifiable (and destructive) cost of a college education. This administration and policy-makers need to spend a half a day pondering this dilemma and then provide a bit of relief to these millions of young people who have, to some degree, been victimized.

Commenter: Brian
I had a loan for $12,000,to get a Associates degree I payed back about$8,000 of that and ran into some life problems.(devorce,job loss,lack of work) but after all was done the loan company basicly said I did not pay and said now I owe $13,000 and started the loan all over again. By the time it is payed off I will have payed back $32,000 on a $12,000 loan.

Commenter: Colleen
I graduated in 1997 at age 30. As a single mother with two small children, I made the decision to obtain a bachelors degree in order to make a better life for my family. I attended school full-time and worked part time, and obtained my degree in four years cum laude. Fortunately, I qualified for some low income grants, and I used student loans to help make ends meet during my four years in school. At the time I graduated, my consolidated student loan balance was just under $30k.
After graduating, I remarried, and my husband and I planned to pay off the loan balance as quickly as possible. However, my husband was injured and unable to work for a long period, making it impossible for me to pay toward my loans during this time. With my forebearance options exhausted, my loans went into default and were sent to collections. My total loan balance is now $66k, including a whopping $18k (!!!!) in penatlties the collection company will receive for making approximately 20 phone calls to me arranging to put my loan into a "rehabilitation" program. At the rate of $520 per month, it will take me 30 years to repay my loans. I will be over 70 years old.

Commenter: Lori
I had know idea what I was getting into at 19 when I took out my first loans. I had no financial guidance from parents or school counselors, so I took what was offered (my family was very poor) and completed a BA. I have never been able to use my degree in the work world - and I have only begun to pay down my loans as I now approach 30. I owe what seems like a huge amount, bu I have many friends in the same boat who owe much more (they went to out of state schools). This has destroyed our credit, our financial lives and our ability to support families at this time in out lives. The system needs to change. A degree is often not worth the cost anymore.

Commenter: marilyn crevere
I think you should all get on the Presidents website and write him, and you congressman. Jpin a club, and persistantly call the department of education.osed

Commenter: Bethany
I'm 49 years old and a professor. I took out a 4,000 dollar government guaranteed student loan in the mid-80s (chicken feed today. It was around that time that trading in debt must have begun because I remember being shocked to learn that my loan had been sold several times without my ever being informed and finally it was defaulted (by Sallie Mae) when it should not have been. A year of harrassing phone calls from collection agencies ensued. One day I reached the end of my psychological tether and in the middle of a particularly ugly harrassing phone call, burst out with "what are you going to do, send someone to come and break my legs?" The phone calls stopped for 16 years. My outburst was not strategic, but I learned a valuable lesson: you do not have to put up with harrassing phone calls from collection agencies and simply ignoring them and refusing to make payments will protect your health from stress related illness and possibly prevent you from ending up on the street. That's my first comment. The second is that for nine years I taught at a liberal arts college in Massachusetts beginning in the late 90s. I was shocked at the cost (40,000 when I left, probably close to 50,000 now). I can tell you that NO education is worth that kind of money in this country. As other commentators have pointed out, most jobs in this country will never pay you enough to pay back this kind of money. What is sad is that the real worth of education isn't economic; rather, education is necessary for democracies to function. There can be no democracy in a society where only the wealthy receive educations. The cost of higher education in this country is contributing to an ever increasing wage slave class - people who find themselves deeply in debt by the age of 21, who can't earn enough money to ever pay the debt off, who can't afford the health care that becomes even more necessary as stress, anxiety, and overwork wreck their health. And the government continues to bail out the very institutions that are profitting from disempowering the country's citizens and destroying democracy by turning them into indentured servants. It is insanity to pay upwards of 100,000 for a college education - go to community college, buy books, read, and educate yourself. As an educator with experience teaching in both private and state schools, I can tell you that private education is in no way worth the money it costs.

Commenter: NIck
So sign up for student loan debt, and you are a owned by the banking industry until you die if you are unable to to pay back the money with interest.

Is slavery legal in this country? The above reasoning would suggest that it is alive and well. I do not see how this loan model is any different than criminals that smuggle humans to different countries promising a better future, than enslaving them in sweat shops, or as prostitutes.

To me it seems that this is another symptom of a country with corrupt finical institutions, where greed rules.

Commenter: Lisa
I took out about $15,000 in loans to attend a public university in the late 90s. It paid for my bachelor's degree. My master's degree was free--I won a scholarship. I worked throughout college and kept my expenses really low. My parents were unable to help me with school--it was either borrow or not go.

After 12 years of solid employment AND solid repayment, I still owe $13,000. Unlike a home loan where you get some relief from interest over time, student loan interest keeps racking up. It's relentless! My loan costs me over $100 a month in interest, and I simply cannot make a larger payment. My expenses are still very low and I work more than full-time. I just want some relief from the interest! I haven't defaulted, and I haven't stopped working. My degree has cost me more than twice the 'sticker price'. Enough!

Commenter: Carol Richter
I went to school as an older student, in a rural area with a chronic high unemployment rate. I excelled in academia and graduated with honors. But age was against me in the job market and easy employment did not follow. For me employment ended in 2003 and I was finally forced to early Social Security of (drum roll) $500/month. Because it is so low, I get a supplement of $165/month. This is my sole income!

Harassment on these loans knows no bounds! My neighbors have been contacted, as have my relatives. The interest is staggering. After years of pointless phone calls, forms, etc. I was put on "income contingent" status because barring a miracle, my income is static and I can never repay these loans. I barely manage to exist month to month.

Any government "stimulus" is seized so any hope of financial relief whatsoever is quickly extinquised. Both the Bush and Obama stimulus checks were taken by the government for payment on this escalating loan sums. It is a dismal situation.

Even though there has been an agreement on my status of "income contingent," the harassment continues from time to time and I have to go through the process all over again. There are other problems but we won't even discuss those. Communication is dead end. There is no recourse, no redress, no relief. I have proof of my age, proof of my limited income - none of it matters.

Government student loans sounds so progressive, like something you'd find in a wealthy country to make sure that its populace is well-educated. But it is anything but what it seems to be. While I loved the educational process (I have a genius I.Q. and am the first in my family to have a college degree), it has not facilitated life for me in any way other than validation. I wish I could give it back. My life would actually be better and I'd have more money too (the stimulus money) - and my credit rating would be sound.

Commenter: On The Lamb
I did all I could but I could not make the payments and the debt soared to over 150K from 30K. I finally made the decision to leave America and emigrate to Canada for a better life. The irony is that I had to leave America for freedom. I think America has tacitly put a de facto feudal order in place..the very same order that led it to break from its debt to England. I've had enough of America's "freedom".

Commenter: Afraid of the Governement
I like Al-Qaeda more than I like Sallie Mae or the US Dept of Education.

Commenter: Rob from NY
The whole system's a big mess. The only people to benefit from borrowing large sums of money for school are people going into certain fields with almost guaranteed high paying jobs. Needless to say, in this economy I'll be amazed that lenders would even consider lending and how borrowers could fathom going into debt in this economic climate. Not all jobs are created equal. At the time when I took out my loans in the '90's to attend an Art School at Boston University, it didn't really dawn on me that as an art student, upon graduation I would have serious problems with paying it back. In retrospect, how could these lenders think logically I would come out of art school with a high paying job and can pay these loans back with reasonable doubt? It's almost laughable. It's like saying, sure we'll lend you $80,000 for you to get your BA in social work or education. Social work jobs don't pay more than 30 grand and you'll be lucky to retire at 50 grand. And then add on the costs of living, how does anyone pay off their student loans? One way of looking at it is that I'm grateful for their financial assistance, however I wonder if they knew that somehow I would get screwed with this and that they would get their money back one way or another tenfold with the balance compounded with defaulted interest penalties and other sneaky tactics to pay back more than what's been borrowed. They will argue that education is a privilege and that I am paying for that privilege. Ha! funny how employers could care less what school you attended as they only care about what your experiences are and who you know. Sometimes I wonder if education really matters anymore. The flip side to it is that going to school is a bragging right. I went to an expensive private university. The thrill has past, I could care less about it now, as do my potential employers scanning through my resume as I join the million others hoping to land a job at McDonalds. The sign of the times.
Captcha words: even dislike

Commenter: bob walker, Fin Aid Director, Itawamba Community College
I wish you had asked a college fin aid director for their view. Most would agree with me that students are provided all kinds of information regarding the dangers of excess student loan debt. Students are told the importance of borrowing as little as possible, student loans will have to be repaid unless the student dies or becomes 100% totally disabled, to keep good records, and to try to use the same lender, among many other things.

I have told students not to borrow during student loan entrance counseling. No one held a gun to these students' head and made them take out a loan. I have compassion for our students and it bothers me to see so many of them take out the maximum student loans each year, knowing they are putting themselves in harms way..

Some students are encouraged by parents, siblings, and friends to take out loans they do not need.

Also, the Dept of Ed has a hand in this. They make it practically impossible for a fin aid director to deny or reduce a student loan.

However, many students and parents pay these loans back and the student could not have achieved the college training and opportunities without the loans. Some students, want to live the good life while in college and not live like a broke college student. Expensive private schools are not for everyone. Low cost community colleges are available.

Thanks for your show. Its about time this issue is picked up by the media. However, in most cases the student is not an innocent victim.

Bob Walker, Fin Aid Director
Itawamba Community College

Commenter: Rob from NY
The whole system's a big mess. The only people to benefit from borrowing large sums of money for school are people going into certain fields with almost guaranteed high paying jobs. Needless to say, in this economy I'll be amazed that lenders would even consider lending and how borrowers could fathom going into debt in this economic climate. Not all jobs are created equal. At the time when I took out my loans in the '90's to attend an Art School at Boston University, it didn't really dawn on me that as an art student, upon graduation I would have serious problems with paying it back. In retrospect, how could these lenders think logically I would come out of art school with a high paying job and can pay these loans back with reasonable doubt? It's almost laughable. It's like saying, sure we'll lend you $80,000 for you to get your BA in social work or education. Social work jobs don't pay more than 30 grand and you'll be lucky to retire at 50 grand. And then add on the costs of living, how does anyone pay off their student loans? One way of looking at it is that I'm grateful for their financial assistance, however I wonder if they knew that somehow I would get screwed with this and that they would get their money back one way or another tenfold with the balance compounded with defaulted interest penalties and other sneaky tactics to pay back more than what's been borrowed. They will argue that education is a privilege and that I am paying for that privilege. Ha! funny how employers could care less what school you attended as they only care about what your experiences are and who you know. Sometimes I wonder if education really matters anymore. The flip side to it is that going to school is a bragging right. I went to an expensive private university. The thrill has past, I could care less about it now, as do my potential employers scanning through my resume as I join the million others hoping to land a job at McDonalds. The sign of the times.
Captcha words: even dislike

Commenter: Luke
While I sympathize with those who are overburdened with student loans, I must voice my favorable experience attending Vanderbilt University. Though the cost of attending college has risen exponentially in the last decades, there are some universities, which advocate responsible lending and have implemented revolutionary financial aid programs, easing the monetary burdens students receive along with their diploma. This year, Vanderbilt has created an "expanded aid program", which meets one hundred percent of the student's demonstrated need with grants and scholarships. As Kirkland hall was so prominently displayed in the video, I thought I might reveal the steps Vanderbilt has taken to ameliorate the financial woes of university students and offer an additional perspective to those broadcasted in this special.

Commenter: John
My story is the same as most here. An honest victim to a corrupt lending system. The less i write the better.

MY STUDENT LOAN HAS BEEN A PROBLEM FOR ME.they have gone to the point of harrasing me at my job. all of my employees at witnessed this constant harassment. I am afraid that my only source of income that I have will be cut short because I am afraid of losing my job over tem harassing me at work. My manager has told me that she would like for them to stop calling their harassing the other employees. and right I need that job because it is the only I can take care of my 5year old daughter.

Commenter: Mary
After reading these stories, if you cannot pay or if the amount is unreasonable due to the interest, do not answer the phone or respond to the mail. The legislature is the problem here not you. There are also laws regarding when and how they can try to contact you and in some states (it may be federal) you can instruct them to only contact you by mail which you do not answer. Check into your rights and take advantage of every right you have. If you do not respond they will stop but if you even respond once, they will continue.
Good Luck

Commenter: Charlotte Kelley
I have a daughter who is mentally disabled. On medication she does fine and she enrolled in National College without my input. I tried calling the college and talking with them about my daughters situation. She's capable of learning, but she's not capable of "selling herself" to an employer in order to obtain a job. Not to mention there are times when medications have to be changed, and sometimes the change isn't good and it leads to another change. I would give anything to see my daughter be able to live a "normal" life, but that is not possible. The person I spoke with at National College told me that my daughter was an adult and that she did not have to have my permission to attend, so there was nothing I could do to stop her from going and I didn't want to discourage her from trying. She made it through and graduated, but this college does not offer assistance in getting a job, which was one of the reasons I argued with my daughter against going, but she felt I was trying to control her life and she went anyway. So now here she is with a $27,000 debt and no way to pay it as she receives less than $700 per month through SSI and Social Security. Right now the loan is deferred. The company she got the student loan through defers in 6 month increments, and this is her first deferral. I don't see a way out of this for her and I don't see her being able to get a "real" job. If she gets a job Social Security and SSI cut back on her benefits if she's employed. She'd have to get a job paying pretty good wages in order to keep on her medication, and pay back the student loan. I have no idea how that is humanly possible.

I've had conference calls with her lender with her on the phone, and they don't even really give any options, it took months before one rep finally suggested an unemployment deferral, so that is what she is on now.

Thank you for reading this.

Commenter: SDK
1) Never take a private loan
2) do not get divorced
3) Minimally use credit cards
4) stay healthy
5) get a job in a field that is growing
6) be prepared to move to where the jobs are

Be advised that our society has been set up by Republicans to SCREW you.

Commenter: Lisa in Indiana
I'm 58, and my debt has doubled to $180,000. Three points: 1)I was encouraged by an onslaught of advertising mailings in the early 2000s, to consolidate my loans. I wonder if it rewarded student loan consolidators with fortunes like those guys, who drove the country into financial and foreclosure ruin, by pushing mortgages and selling them to larger financial institutions. 2) I presume I can never get married, that none of us can get married, because spouses could be harassed and saddled with our debts. 3) I can never collect social security. None of us can, if we have unpaid loans. So, we will have to support ourselves and work until we die. Kind of sad.

Commenter: Tina Pryor
At the age of 19 my son was talked into assuming the status of cosigner on his best friend's student loan. His friend has reneged on the loan and my son is dunned daily for payment, amounting to around $300.00 a month, this is in addition to his own personal student loan payments of $400.00 a month. At the time my son co-signed his friend's loan he was not working, was living at home, and attending college; the loan officer from the privately funded school convinced my son that he would have no obligation, that it was merely a formality. The irony is that students have no education as to the obligations they are assuming when signing or cosigning loans, and the bottom line is that my son did not have the income, or the prospect of an income that would equip him to assume payments of two student loans. I have sent letters to congress, to funders, to anyone whom I thought could assist with this mess, NOBODY responds!!!! Both my son and I have given the loan holder Nelnet, the address and phone number of the friend for whom my son cosigned, and just last week I was advised by the lender that they could only take an address change from the loan holder, so the information I was extending was not going to be used to locate the loan holder. My son is in debt for his friend for over $50,000.00. I ams certain this is not an isolated incident, but it is reprehensible that a 19 year old college student, with no income can be approved as a cosigner on a student loan, and now has to wait until his friend has made 4 years of on-time payments to the loan holder before he can petition to have his name removed from the loan obligation.

Commenter: Eleanor and Lloyd Falk
We think you have reached a new low in your story about the Baltimore woman with the $70,000 student loan. You make money (e.g. selling copies of the program) on the show by standing by while that women loses her abode and has to live with a friend. How about providing her with some assistance in compensation for your having something to broadcast.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Commenter: J Clear
I went back to school to complete my undergrad in 1996 when I was 35. I borrowed only $15,000 to finish two years of night school and graduated on the Dean's List with straight A's. My degree was in writing and I had done an internship at a major publisher (editing and writing advertising copy). When I graduated all of the entry level positions were going to the non-paid (or minimum paid) interns. No entry level jobs were available that fit my education. I interviewed for almost a year and went back to temping. I realized I would have to have a graduate degree and so was stuck temping and trying to survive while making a plan. I had to place my loan in forebearance or defer them -- and I had no idea how high the interest and penalties would be. I've had to work as an administrative assistant and have been in and out of jobs -- but when I have been working Sallie Mae has demanded a minimum of $253 a month -- which precluded my looking for any lower paying job that would take me on a career track. That $15,000 loan is now over $50,000 -- mostly because of the months where it was in forebearance and the interests and penalties were added. I have been trying to come up with some way to pay the $250 a month and still live in NY. I had to close out all my credit cards and am attempting to completely pay off all my debts so that I will only have that to deal with. At the moment I have been rent poor -- I have been living off of the free drinks and snacks provided by my company -- and having to pretend that I am fine. I have to pretend that I don't want the left overs to catered business lunches. I have to pretend that I'm not thinking about how I'm going to have enough money to buy coffee. But that's just me.

Commenter: Brian Heberley
It's really not that hard. There is only one rule to follow:

-Don't buy something unless you can pay for it.

This includes getting an education. Some of these stories are very tragic and I feel sorry for them, but I can't believe that these stories shown above are the norm. If you borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree in art history, english, business, or some other relatively useless degree with no real possibility of earning enough to pay it back than you deserve everything coming to you. Perhaps if people actually worked at college to get a useful degree like engineering, physics, chemistry, etc. they would possess the rudimentary math skills required to understand interest, income, and expenses.

Commenter: Plato
What about the just taking effect, July 1, 2009, Income based repayment program? IBR allows for stafford (unsecured and secured), as well as, grad plus (but NOT parent plus) loans to be consolidated and paid back based on income--not amount borrowed.

I withdrew my acceptance at a cheaper much lower rated law school to attend one of the most expensive law schools (tuition and cost of living). My decision was based on the New Income Based Repayment plan which would allow my payments for 25 years to be tied to my income and not more than 15% of it, which, when I plugged in my numbers (and my debt is going to be HUGE; like going to medical school all on loans), it comes out to about 1% of my annual income per month for monthly payments, i.e., 45k/yr=450; 50k/yr=500/mth;80k=800/mth--and it does not matter how much I borrow, as payments are predicated on annual income, and loan forgiveness on making those payments for 25yrs--and then the capitalized portion left over is foregiven. Did I misunderstand something???

I've also got ten, that is now twenty, that I'm told I can combine (consolidate) with my other stafford and grad plus loans from law school, to be included in the IBR.

Hope I don't end up like Socrates!! And I'm older than average, so I'm really out on a limb, if I haven't gotten this right. (and I've been better informed through my own research than my counselors at the schools i'm going to attend.)

Commenter: Afraid of the Government
Student loans should have zero percent interest. Period.

Commenter: Cassandra
you can't be what you want you have to be what pays well

Commenter: Cassandra
First of all, social workers don't get paid enough, an second of have to research your "good job" before you decide that's the path you want to take. I did pharmacy...not because that was my passion, but because I could and it paid well. That's the way it is.

Commenter: Kelly
I believe students are mostly to blame for loan debt that is way above what they can afford. I work in the student loan department at a university and I have troubles all the time trying to help students.

For example, students often want to take out a private loan rather than a federal loan because the process is quicker. I can get some payment estimation calculators and show them they would be paying back a few thousand dollars more by getting a private loan and they don't care.

Students VERY often have the attitude that "I'm gonna have a good job because I'll have a degree and it won't matter because I'll have all the money in the world so who cares about a higher payment."

Parents and teachers need to help these kids research starting salaries in their field and make an expected budget. Maybe if they saw they have little chance of making their monthly payments they would borrow more responsibly.

Commenter: Katlyn
I'm a single parent of 3 college-aged kids, trying to help all get through school. I've taken so many different parent PLUS loans, and they've been consolidated and transferred to new lenders so many times, I can't even keep track of them all and my overall balance! I do know that all of the loans combined add up to a hefty, and growing, monthly payment and a huge overall debt. Thankfully, so far I've been able to keep up with the monthly payments, and 1 child is near finished and another is close behind, so pretty soon I won't have to take out any more loans, but I'll be paying them off for some time. However, I am grateful that the kids will not have to start out their young lives being burdened with too much student debt on their own since I've been able to take it on for them.

Commenter: not a fan of ayn
These stories are heartbreaking. Unfortunately, nothing will be done because there is just too much money and power involved. Congress is not interested in an educated citizenry, because educated citizens would take to the streets and demand changes.

Commenter: Jerome Carolfi
A $24,000 loan cost me $75,000 and untold hours of agonizing. I was a student in the '80s who attended a state college as an undergraduate and later did an MFA at a private art college. In all, I borrowed about $23,000 in the course of my undergraduate and graduate studies. After graduating in 1987, the program from which i had borrowed informed me i had to repay my student loan on a very aggressive schedule in order to comply with state law. Sallie Mae was right there with loan consolidation to make the payments manageable, and at a significantly higher interest rate than i had. In retrospect I am shocked by my willful ignorance of how the borrowing was set up. At that time I was earning $19,000 a year and about 1/3 of my takehome salary went to payments. Then as the 1990 recession got underway, I was without work for an extended period of time and deferred payment on the loans. When I finally did start working again, the capitalized interest from the deferments made my monthly payment even higher than it had been, but my financial position hadn't really immproved. Eventually I ended up defaulting on the loan. During the Clinton years I was able to bring the loan out of default and a into federal loan rehabilitation program. that came with substantial penalties, and by the time the loan was paid off, I had repaid about $75,000 over a 25 year payment.

Now I have an "over-my-head" "under-water" mortgage. Apparently all those years carrying a crushing student loan instilled a strong debt ethic in me.

My hope for every young person going through school is that they understand the economic realities of borrowing for education. The country is sure to suffer now that higher education has slipped from the grasp of more and more young people who could otherwise do so much to create a better and more prosperous society in the future.

Commenter: In Debt
I have kidney disease and am hoping I die soon so my family can cash in on my life insurance to pay off my student loans. Hell or high water - these loans will not go into default. It's merely a race against time - allowing student loans to be dischargeable in bankruptcy or my death. We'll see who wins.

Commenter: Roosevelt Smith
Sallie Mae continues to take money 250.00 dollars a month from my Social Security(I am retired from Lucent Technologies)They even intercepted the money that President Obama issued to Social Security recipients for reinvestment.The agents name is "Terri Cooper" from the Wilkes-Barre Pa. office(acct.number UF312484945.I did attend school but received reinbursement from my employer confirmed by the school and my employer after more than ten years.Handwriting analysis proved the signitures are not mine, I have retained an attorney but the deductions continue, when my attorney tries to contact the department they always route him to some kind of collections department in Chicago.How is this possible,they have collected over 2,000 dollars and still continues.

Commenter: Tom
I went back to school after a 20 yr hiatus. Though I got some grant money, the balance required me to take out loans. I took out Federal approved loans my first year, and those terms are managable. But the 2nd yr my college financial aid office said that I did not qualify for a federal student loan and that my only option was a "Citiassist" loan offered via Citi Bank through the financial aid office. The interest rate was slightly higher, but as my only option I took it. A year after graduation I learned that a lawsuit against Citibank had been submitted citing that the college had been granted subsidies by Citibank in exchange for issuing loans through them. The lawsuit was won in favor of the students, and all those named in the suit were granted instant loan forgiveness. In the interim, I applied to be included in the suit but had been informed that my loan was issued one semester prior to the period named in the suit, so I didn't qualify. Then a loan consolidation option was offered, but Citibank wouldn't consolidate their own loan (2 loans - one each for two semesters). I got a letter from Citibank inviting me to apply for student loan consolidation. I applied, and was turned down. Citibank refused to consolidate their own loan!! Since then, I get routine collection phone calls, which even continue after I make an online payment. What's worse is that I've noted that though I've paid consistently, the balance continues to go up - not down! And the payoff balance is actually higher than my initial loan amount. Whatever you do, do not use Citibank for a student loan. They are vultures!

Commenter: Bernard Johnston
I feel very sorry for the young, talented people today who wish to further their education. I started my post-secondary education in 1958. I received a baccalaureate, master's and a doctorate and as I recall I never paid anything more than registration fees. The tuition was either free or I received some sort of state or federal assistance. Today it would seem the government's financial priorities are supporting wars and Wall Street.

Commenter: Matt
I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of people who think that high schools are completely ignoring their responsibility to educate young people about the dangers of student loan debt. Instead they just tell everybody to go to college: guidance counselors don't care what bad advice they give since they can't be fired. Well maybe they can with the state budget crisis. lol. Oprah Winfrey has done colossal damage by telling people to get an education but not warning them about student loan debt, or education scams like video game schools or culinary schools (or even law school). She's just a shill for Sallie Mae.

I have an accounting degree that I haven't used. After I got my degree I got a job that I hated, which was doing accounts payable for a company that was running out of money. I eventually quit that job and I haven't tried to get an accounting-related job since. My degree is just glorified office skills. I went to a cheap school, so I didn't get into trouble with a student loan, but I learned first hand that a degree may not lead to gainful employment for any number of reasons. You may simply lose interest in the field that you studied--so it's a really bad idea to go into massive debt to go to school.

People say if you don't go to college, you will end up working in a job where you ask "do you want fries with your order". Perhaps--but your guests are probably eating out because they don't want to go home to receive another threatening phone call from Sallie Mae.

Commenter: caredtoomuch
I was 18, and after dropping out out of high school, the teacher of the GED class seen my 99 percentile scores, and said "hon, you need to be in college". That was in December, by January I was enrolled in a public college, majoring in social services so I could "help people". During this time I was married and had my first two children. My husband who did not have a college degree was working long hours in the oilfield, getting paid minimally, so to me, I thought this was the best thing to do.

It was a dream come true, of course I signed the loan papers because I wanted life to be better. I had every plan to pay back immediately every penny of the loan, even knowing it wasn't the most high paying field. At the time, 24,000 a year for a female in a local community in Oklahoma sounded like a huge amount of money, and nor did could I predict the future. I was full of pride from the very beginning, and 5 years later, during many hard times, I graduated from college with a bachelors degree. Little did we know he would lose his job during this time due to oilfield bust, so this money was spent for not only my college, but just putting food on the table.

Fast forward in time a few years, economic trouble, very low pay, raising a family. He started acting funny, so we ended up divorced before I had enough money to start paying on student loans. 6 months later we discovered he had a brain tumor.

I worked in the social services field, while I watched my children's die for 3 years. He was not able to work, and so I was the one that financially raised them. To sum things up, re-married, had another child, between lay offs, and bad times, still no extra money, none whatsoever to pay anything extra on student loans because the amount they demanded was so extreme, it was a choice of a roof over our head, milk in the fridge, and a few extra dollars for school supplies.

Fast forward, divorced, single mother. Working a $27,000 a year job with so many bills (no credit cards) just maintenance. Working in the mental health field, extremely pressured and stressful, but still trying to "help people". Discharged last Wednesday due to my son being sick within the last 6 months, and an absessed tooth on my part. I have started looking for jobs, there isn't much out there that does not pay over $11.00 and hour, if your lucky.

Notified today, my $19,000 original loan, is not $55,000 and was hatefully told when I called that the money was due immediately. Then they backed off and said this is $600 a month.

I did not ask for this. I would have been better off in hindsight, waitressing or working for Wal-Mart. At least I would not be scared, since right now, my car (thank God I have one) may be re-possesed next month. And then now this.

In the meantime, have been working in the mental health field. What I have seen, is many clients claiming to be mentally and physically ill, who really are not. They receive disability, they receive food stamps, housing assistance, just to name a few, while sitting there in their homes doing nothing. Do not take offense, some are truly disabled, but the disablity program is being scammed by many. So they get online, looking for me free money, and take online classes to get their free money in grants.

I'm beginning to wonder if we weren't brainwashed into attending school and taking out school loans, because the government knew we would make more money, and they could garnish our paychecks.

Are we working for the government? Is there any freedom left?

No-one can take this degree away, but I wish someone would, along with all the debt.

Commenter: Chris S
I am the parent of a 20 year old college graduate. We had our child drop out of high school in the 10th grade and start at our local community college when she was 15. Next year she is going to the local state university to get a masters degree in a health field. There is a chronic shortage in her chosen area and although it will not pay much, she will have a job and she will finish college through her graduate degree with NO debt.

Contrast this with her friends who are just finishing their second year of private college with $40,000 (so far) in debt in fields like art and social work. I find it criminal that the high school guidance counselors and sometimes parents have bought into the myth that going to a "top" private university and studying silly stuff that will never lead to a job is the way to the American dream. Some of these young people don't even know if they owe the money or their parents do. Oh my god... as the kids say!

We are entering a jobless future and we need to bust the myths that fancy schools with high priced tuition are the road to success. It is a giant scam that is ruining people. Big loans for college have only inflated the cost of college. I wish there were NO student loan programs at all. This would mean that colleges would have to charge real (not inflated costs) for fancy buildings and sports centers. As for people who were cheated and deceived as young people, we need to give them a bailout. THis is a society problem and not just an individual problem. It needs to be fixed at a national level through laws.

Commenter: Lynn
I graduated with a Master's degree in 1996. Unfortunately, I was not able to secure a position with enough income to make payments on my student loan. Unemployment for myself, my husband,and two children to feed left us with no money to pay some necessities, much less payments on the loans.

Of course, I couldn't get any relief from the student way to discharge them in bankruptcy.

Twelve years later, I am finally in a position to try and reduce this debt. The principal has increased from approx. $46,000 to more than $96,000. I initially began making payments equal to 15% of my income. This decreased the principal by about $3.00 per month. However, it did not leave me enough to maintain myself. I have renegotiated my payment with the Department of Education, now paying approx. one-third of the original 15% payment. I haven't gotten the paperwork yet to determine how much, if any, of my payment will be put toward the principal which is now $96,000 plus.

As a side note, I am 56 years old and will probably not work long enough to retire this debt. Since it cannot be discharged, I will never own a home or be able to get credit for any major purchases.

The loan payment amount is renegotiated regularly, and any increase in my income will mean an increase in my payments on the student loan. There is no end in sight,and no future for anything but debt.

Commenter: Janette
I am 62 years old. I was 42 when I returned to college after my son went to the military. Unfortunately, upon graduation, I tried for 6 months to find a job in my field (construction). I was told at every turn that I had been in academics too long and what could I know about the area of business. (I guess they thought I forgot everything I had done for the twenty previous years). To cut the story short, I am a teacher now and have been paying every month for the past 10 years, but my loans have still grown from around 24,000 to 64,000 dollars. When I asked for a breakdown from Dept of Ed, all I get is a series of numbers which do not reflect any of the original loans I took. Some of them read $8,000 next to the loan number. There are no undergraduate loans in that amount. Penalties and interest have buried me and literally ruined my sense of hope and persuit of peace.

Commenter: Kaycee
Currently, my monthly student loan payments cost me nearly 50% of my take-home income ($1600/mo).

I am a public-interest lawyer who loves my job, and is committed to my field. However, I likely will have to leave my position because I am drowning in this debt, and can barely afford to live off of my remaining income. At times, I feel as if I am paying to do public service work.

My partner (who has nearly as much student loan debt as me) and I cannot afford to have a wedding, which we would like to have, and there is no way we can even think about a down payment on a home. Sadly, the worst is that it is not financially feasible for us to have children, unless something dramatically changes.

Commenter: Single Mom
I went back to college as a single mother in 1986. I felt that I had to do so in order to be a better parent. During this time in Oklahoma, Child Support Enforcement was a joke. This left me with no choice but to take student loans. I did succeed in school earning a Masters degree in counseling, and an undergrad degree in social work. Do I need to tell you what these jobs pay. I can say I have never earned over 28,000 a year though we were promised more in undergrad shcool. Raising 3 children is expensive. I was never able to provide much for them, no extra's. My loans were at the end of grad school 37,000. That amount has grown to about 80,000 with collection costs and fees.

I have to agree with the young lady who commented that it was "our responsibility" to know what we were getting into. I also feel that equal amount of responsibility should go to the lender. They should have been able to regulate their system better and given us the real facts of our loans in language we could understand. Maybe saying to me straight out, "do you know that social workers and counselors are at the bottom of the feeding chain?" Or, "you will never make enough money to repay your loans, and if you don't we will make sure that you never have anything for the rest of your life, not even a job that could help you".

Don't you think that it would be nice and fair if I could sue the father of my children for at least half of my loans? (Just a thought)

I did file bankruptcy in 2001, and ofcourse those loans were not discharged. I'm still fighting it though. Salle Mae needs to get real. It's been 15 years since finishing with my masters and have not been able to repay a penny of what I owe. Though they have taken my tax refunds and rebates. I guess that I will be working until I'm at least 80 because I will never be able to retire or be ill. I was making 9.40 per hour working with adults with handicaps parttime and selling Avon products, which brings in another 50.00 to 100.00 per month. Where is the income I was promised in college??????????

Commenter: Garrett Galayda
Lets bring back consumer protection rights on student loans immediately.

I would love to make my loan payment in full every month, it's a pretty rewarding feeling. Unfortunately, I've been levied a difficult loan payment totaling $1000 each month on a 15 year plan. Just months before graduating, congress removed consumer protection rights that allowed Sallie Mae to end their loan consolidation program. My school and career were based upon a 30 year loan consolidation that would have allowed me to make $500 monthly payments and ramp up my payments as my career progressed.

My carefully planned approach to higher education was simply no match for the lobbyists in Washington.

I hope we can all get together and return consumer protection rights to our younger brothers and sisters and future generations.

Commenter: Dr. Pamela Autrey
I did not really take on any loans until I decided to go for my Ph.D. at many of my professors' urging. For a single mother with two daughters I was still providing for, it was a difficult challenge to set before myself but I thought the hard work would lead to a better position. What I did not factor in was my working class background and the class of those who would interview me was not a good match. At every college interview, I was told that my care for students and children came through loud and clear, and my knowledge of curriculum theory is extensive since I was part of a Curriculum Theory Project. Theorist Valerie Walkerdine did a short documentary film and interviewed many women like me and found that the university was not likely to take us seriously because we lacked the kind of cultural capital to be accepted/understood by those interviewing us. I agree with much of what these other Ph.D.s said. After many interviews, I took a position in the public Montessori program. In order to try to make enough to live and pay my school loans, I opened a private Montessori school with three couples who drove me crazy for two years to try to make enough. Finally, I returned to the public program where I barely clear enough to make my living expenses (I clear 2650. a month). I wish I would not have gotten the Ph.D. and instead of being in debt now, I could enjoy my life as a teacher with virtually no debt. I cannot give the degree back but many children profit from my care and warmth, humility and humor as well as rigor in working with children in Title I schools. Most of the anxiety in my life comes from knowing my forbearance will end soon and I still do not have the salary to support a $630. payment a month. I wish they could still take out a pound of flesh but in our sophisticated society that would be an outrage. My work is my life with children. One cannot go back. But what am I left to do? One possibility is for loaners to look at the work some of us do to make our society a better place and cancel out some of our loans based on that. I know my Pell grant was being cancelled out that way. Thank you.

Commenter: MS in NYC
I borrowed 66K total for graduate and undergraduate school. Money well spent I think, all considering. I wouldn't trade my education for the world.

But it is disheartening to pay $725 monthly, and see my balance go down only $150 at a time. Can that be right? $575 to interest?

Unfortunately, I consolidated at the highest interest rate possible 8.25 percent. I was unaware there was no refinancing option available for the rest of eternity. Consolidating was the only thing I could do to make the payments manageable. And so I had to sit by and watch the opportunity to consolidate at 3.5% go by.

I've paid on time for 11 years now, but my balance is STILL $89K. I'm unemployed now, and always reserve the student loan payment out of my unemployment check.

I have a deferment, but the accrued interest is still $400 monthly, so all payment progress would be quickly wiped out if I don't continue to pay. It's scary walking the line of default, but i don't want bad credit to ruin my chances of securing a job.

I just feel as if I'm caught in a revolving loan and none of the companies will help me find a quicker way out. How about an amortized payment schedule? Or the ability to refinance, just like a house? We need help, we're drowning.

Commenter: Karen M
My nightmare isn't the interest nor paying back my student loans. I'm not in default

Commenter: Barbara
I hope I am not doing this twice. I typed it and lost it. In 1986 quite good goverment to come home and help my mother. I could not get another goverment job so I went back to school to get a masters degree. I took out $35.000 in student loans and paid back over $20.000 before filing bankruptcy. In Febuary 1996 when the bankruptcy was over my student loans was over $35,000.I retired in September because of the job stress and health problems. I had a state job so my Social security was reduced by a goverment penion offset of 2/3% of my state retirement. this gives my $1200. a month to live on. I can not pay my student loans and worry about what will happen. My loans are now over $70,000 which I can not pay. I got the stuff file for income sensitive but am worried about filing the papers because it looks like it could causes more problems.

Commenter: AM
My parents didn't go to college. When I was a little girl, I remember watching my mother do homework to earn her GED. But I was smart. My parents knew I was going places. So when I gained admission to Columbia College in NYC, it seemed like a no-brainer. Then I entered a "3/2" program: I completed my bachelor degree in three years and entered a masters program within Columbia University. A high-ranking dean assured me that student loans were the way to go. Now I have over 200K in student loan debt. And no job.

I was a teacher in the South Bronx public high school. I was also an adjunct professor. Even with these two jobs, plus waitressing during summer vacation, I made just enough to pay rent for my modest studio apartment in Queens, subway fare, and standard utility/living bills. I have NEVER been "on vacation." I have never purchased or leased a car. I wear inexpensive clothing and have worn the same windbreaker jacket I purchased in 1990.

So I deferred my student loan, because I could not afford even the minimum payment.

I haven't worked since 2002 -- at least, not steadily. After 9/11, I sort of lost my ... energy. I don't collect welfare, food stamps, or any government aid. My life partner, bless his loyal soul, supports me. But we can't marry, because his wages would be garnished to collect my student loan debt.

I declared bankrupcy in 2004, for 7K of credit card debt, but the student loans were not discharged.

I have little confidence in myself. And I am afraid.

Commenter: Mike
Before I was placed on disability I lost a lot of work and ended up in default on my student loan. Two board certified physicians - mine and one hired by social security - agreed I could not maintain a job.

That was not enough for the Department of Education. They turned down a discharge because I didn't supply enough information, but they had medical records going back 12 years.

I should not have been surprised. One of the collectors told me that there was no way I'd receive a discharge unless I was dying of cancer.

From reading about this and experiencing it in my own way I have to say the system is rigged. All SS recipients were to receive a $250 stimulus check but mine was confiscated.

Like Fannie Mae really needed that 250 while my income is $900 a month.

I've read something about student loan collections being limited if you are below the poverty line. That helps because if they start taking my SS I won't be able to maintain a residence.

Commenter: RH
I accept my share of the responsibility for the commitment I made to repay the money I borrowed to obtain a JD from a private law school. However, in my case, this responsibility should be shared with the private law school I attended, which lead me to believe I had a reasonable chance of earning enough through my law degree to repay the approximately $180,000 I owed upon graduation 13 years ago, and the $250,000 I now owe. I found out that unless one graduates in the top 25% of their class, that their prospects are nil for finding a job that will pay enough to have any chance of making those payments.

I am on the verge of defaulting on the $100,000 that I currently owe Sallie Mae. I receive about 10-12 calls from their automated call system every day. Over the years I have found that although some of their representatives sound sincere and earnest, that the information their system reports is inaccurate and that some of their actions are illegal. For example, two years ago they attempted to withdraw funds from my checking account three different times within a two-week period without my permission, and the only reason they did not succeed was that the account was already overdrawn. However, I did have to pay $25 in overdraft fees to my bank for each attempt, and they refused to reimburse me.

Another example of their fraudulent activity occurred about six months ago. I earned enough to bring my account current including late fees and penalties, and so I asked them to tell me how much I must pay to do so. I gave them the amount, and then the next month I was not charged for a monthly payment because they had asked for more than was needed. However, their online system indicated that I owed several hundred dollars in late fees, even though I had overpaid the outstanding balance, including all late fees and penalties. When I contacted them in writing asking for an explanation for why their system indicated I owed the late fee, I received a polite letter explaining that I could find the answer myself in the enclosed report of every payment I had made over the previous ten years. In other words, they had no idea why their system told them this, and in fact two separate phone representatives confirmed that because I had paid all of my outstanding fees and penalties that there should be no more late fees due.

My only recourse at this point is to file bankruptcy and pursue an adversarial action against Sallie Mae to have all or a portion of my loan dismissed due to extreme hardship. I am happy to have the payments reduced to a manageable level, and will submit a proposal to Sallie Mae to that effect before pursuing bankruptcy. However, to my knowledge, they have never voluntarily negotiated down the amount they are owed.


Commenter: Evan
I could not have gone to school without student loans. But the student loans were often not enough, and so now I am saddled with both student loan debt and credit card debt, even after living a pretty austere existence throughout my time in school, working the entire time, and going to a low cost school. This debt will seriously restrain my economic progress for at least the next 20 years. As a nation, we urgently need to reduce the financial burden of pursuing a higher education.

Commenter: Tim
The whole Guaranteed Student Load GSL system is a scam!

I pay back my loans when I can. When colleges and universities discovered that students were getting loans from the government, they continuously raised tuition. The banks kept paying us and thereby we payed the colleges and universities. So, in essence, we have "foot the bill" way beyond the price of our education--we payed for all of the new improvements (buildings and the like) at our places of higher learning. If you don't believe me, take a look your alma mater. (And then our alumni associations have ask for money!I'm glad I don't have their NERVE in my tooth!)

The GSL money should needed to go directly to colleges and universities so overall costs could be minimized. But then again, these institutions of higher learning would owe the money, so it was simpler to have hard working, students pay. We were dupes to a system that fed into one another.

What is the point of going to college if there aren't any jobs? We were told there would be jobs a plenty after the "baby boomers" retired. Guess what? They are not retiring--and who can blame them? All of their money they saved for 55 years went spiraling downward in a matter of months. If your an educator at a college or university, no one over 65 dares retire. Their pay, along with the rather redundant administrators, absorb most of the funds.

And the jobs that are out there? Oh they want to pay you nothing--but they want all they can out of you!
Who let these industries and other companies go overseas?

It's a disgusting situation that could have been avoided if it was managed and thought out better.

Commenter: Melissa Garner
I've read many of the stories on this site related to student loans and none are positive. Since it is necessary to have a graduate degree in the U.S. to get almost any professional job now days - we student loan borrowers have put forth the effort required to obtain the credentials we needed for our fields. I hope someone out there is organizing our group as a political force. If so, please count me in and keep me informed at

Commenter: Tim Vatovec
It is hard to fathom the 80 Thousand I currently have outstanding in student loans. I have no credit card debt, nor any other debt. Part-way through a PhD and I need more money to finish - what do you do? Stop now? It is even more of a stretch to realize how much I will pay back with interest! Thinking about such a huge sum is nothing but depressing. But what was I going to do? College, my Masters degree, my continuing studies - it all costs money. In the case of my undergraduate institution, when they cut one part of financial aid, the only option was more loans. What do you say to the loan officer with one semester left to finish? NO, thats ok, $1,400 dollars is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Ill quit now. No, you sign what they say and take the private loan they have lines up - capped at 10% no less. It is a mad, mad world indeed.

Commenter: James
I'm not in danger of defaulting on my loans, though I have used most of my forbearance to delay paying on it until this year when I finally got a job that I could pay the loan off with.

My current job has -nothing- to do with my degree in Web Design. It's not the cost of the degree that I find angering, but rather that the cost of the degree has nothing to do with the market for that knowledge.

College students are not in college to simply attain knowledge, they go to college to become valuable to their chosen industries. However college pricing is strictly based on the hours of education, and not on the actual -value- of that knowledge. Web Design is a field where 1% - 5% of all graduates actually get in to a job where they actually use their knowledge. There simply aren't enough jobs to accommodate all the people that the colleges are graduating with the degree. The rest end up in other sectors, often with jobs that don't cover the repayment plans based on income levels the colleges promise their potential students when they are looking to choose a school.

I've spent enough money to buy a hummer, only to get the value of a used $1000 jalopy.

And this isn't just in Web Design. I just talked to a woman with an MBA who is working 25 hours a week at a supermarket because there's nothing else out there. Most all of my friends are college graduates that are all working hourly rates earning a tenth of what the colleges assured them they would be earning, a tenth of the value of the education that the colleges claimed their education was worth.

It's like the mortgage crisis, there's simply too much debt out there supporting hypothetical, nonexistent value.

My own $0.02.

Commenter: NN
I graduated December 2001, following 9/11. I lost my job along with many other people. By 2002 I was in default. I majored in Economics and my credit was now ruined which meant I could not get a job in my field. To make a long story short I took many odd jobs that didn't last very long and did not pay very well. The collection agencies demanded more money than I ever could ever pay. I made several attempts to create a realistic pay schedule but they demanded too much and began harrassing me. I had to call the NY Attorney General. They got the Private lenders off my back but it was a "conflict of interest" with the Federal loans. I've had to change my number plenty times and I am constantly threatened with wage garnishing. They have not garnished it yet because my jobs kept fizzling out. I am still in default and never really added to the GDP. I've had to learn to live around credit. The governement threw billions of dollars at companies which were obviously going to fail despite the money being given to them. They could have used a much smaller percentage of that money to lower our loan payments. I'm shocked how this country terrorized it's youth. A couple of greedy people have caused so much trouble. I know for a fact that the same private lenders who lent me the loans when I was 18 yrs old were sued but the suit didn't extend for people who signed the loans during my college years. So I'm stuck with the same illegal loans. Rest assure I will never sign another loan, for any amount, ever again. Perhaps the consumer credit system will just become devalued as time goes on from so many people slipping into debt. But the credit rating affecting people being able to get a job is criminal in its self, but hey, thats America.

Commenter: David Cleland
Had I known that I would owe around 200,000 in student debt, I would never have gone to graduate school. At my current rate, I will never pay it all off. Is this my fault...yes. However, I think it is only fair that student loan borrowers are afforded the same bankruptcy protection as other borrowers.

Commenter: Lois Tigner
Education Loan Nightmare.

710.00 offset Income Tax refund
300.00 offset Stemulus Check
250.00 offset Stemulus Check

Thanks Congress for your Opressive Laws God Bless Law Makers.

Lois Tigner

208 B Loire Ave
Lafayette, La. 70507
337 896-5920

Commenter: Carl J. Verro
If every citizen had a college degree they'd be unemployed and unable to pay college loans like me.

I'm 57 years old. I am Microsoft and Security Certified with 2 Masters Degrees, and MBA and a Master of Science in Information Systems. In this economic climate I will never find another job making enough money to pay off my student loans.

I must care for my mother. She is 86 years old and on December 21, 2008 she had an accident
and broke her ankle. While in rehab she was diagnosed with sleep apnea and is on oxygen at
night. I cook, clean her house, go shopping for her, and manage her medications. She will NOT
put up her house to go into a facility, and she cannot afford a full time aid.

In 1991 I graduated from college owing $21000 in student loans. Since 1991 I have paid almost $18000 on those loans. I currently owe $40000 to MHEAC DBA ASA (American Student Assistance) due to the fact that Ganick, O'Brien,

Commenter: Where did I go wrong?
I currently have over $180,000 of debt due to college... and climbing because I can only make the minimum loan payment which, as we all know, only pays the interest on the loan and not any of the principle balance. So the $180,00 is rapidly rising as I type this.

How did it get this bad?

I was debt free when I started college. I received the GI Bill for being in the army which paid me a monthly amount while attending college. Not to mention I attended public colleges in MA which were tuition FREE for US Veterans.

How did it get this bad?

I went to a local community college and then to UMass Boston as I worked full-time until I had all of my elective classes complete. Both schools are considered public colleges and my tuition was FREE. I had minimal debt at that time mostly due to college fees, books, and other school and living expenses.

How did it get this bad?

My goal was to be an architect. I looked at architecture schools in the Boston area and found exactly zero programs offered at public colleges. I decided to go to a private college. Northeastern University in Boston. Tuition was NOT FREE here for US Veterans.

Here's how it got so bad!

Tuition was over $30,000 a year. Not to mention an exorbitant amount of money paid in architecture supplies that were "necessary". I worked odd jobs as much as I could which was very difficult with the time demands in architecture school. My GI Bill expired because it was beyond the allotted time. Which meant there were times I was paying rent and living expenses with my student loans and credit card(s). At this point I was in survival mode.

Five years later I received my masters degree. I'm currently one of the few architects to have a job in the city of Boston. I'm entry level, in my 30's and live with 2 other people in a cramped apartment outside the city with no TV and very few amenities. I don't own a car and really don't have any unusual expenses except for my loans.

I'm desperate for relief. I honestly don't know how I'm getting by each day. I'm working ridiculous hours and still not able to pay all my bills. The potential for architects to make a decent living is there after 10 years or so in the business. But due to the recession, the building industry is dormant and I'm working like a fiend just to keep my job with literally thousands of people waiting in the wings to take my place if I miss a single deadline.

How did it get this bad?

Where did I go wrong???

Commenter: Patrick
Many of these stories echo the same sentiment and problems with our student loan programs.

Personally, I feel like my greatest mistake was to return to graduate school. Prior to grad school, I was in great shape financially. I saved regularly and enjoyed a great life with much more flexibility.

Since graduation, my financial shape took a huge hit when repayment began and my job search extended out much longer than 6 months. I had to sell stuff and cash out previous retirement savings just to stay afloat and make payments. Of course I knew this was the last thing one should do but I had no way to keep up with the payments. My credit suffered. My budget is very tight.

As another user mentioned, I pay was much as I can but so much of the extra payments is just applied to interest. The balance SLOWLY drops.

I don't blame the system entirely. I should have known the ROI wasn't what it appeared to be when making the decision to go. Bottom line is a degree is going down in ROI b/c A) it continues to be more expensive every year and in fact, tuition at many state programs has gone up > 6-7% a year for over a decade and B) our real wage growth is not growing to keep up with what it has in the past. The wages earned after school simply doesn't make the prospect of attending school as attractive.

I often hear older people talk about how you just have to do 'x' and 'y' to take care of school and paying for it - example of how they just worked summer jobs to pay for school. That is just not the case anymore. The part-time jobs students work have see zero-negative real wage growth. How can that keep up with 6-7% tuition increases a year books/rent/etc.?

In my opinion, the long-term result of the student loan debt is that we will A) take less risk in our careers and B) spending will be reduced significantly because not only are we trying to make the payments but we also have to fit more of the bill in so many other areas - retirement, healthcare, etc.

The future ain't what it used to be...........

Commenter: Chris K.
Student Loan BS

Well, this is off the top of my head and charged with emotion.

While in college earning my Pharmacy Ph.D., I worked more than full-time at several jobs in pharmacy to be sure I had marketable real-life work skills upon graduation. During my Grad School education I borrowed 72K in Student Loans from U.S. Department of Education "Direct Loans", and upon graduating I consolidated into the "William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program and got a 5% interest rate on the consolidated loans. It is rumored that these loans are held or administrated by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, but I am not sure who actually holds them.

At the time I thought this was a great deal for me, and a great deal for our society by enabling anyone in our country the opportunity to pursue higher education and professional skills and ultimately give back or contribute to the greater good.

After eight years of having student loan re-payments automatically withdrawn from my checking account I was shocked to find my principle loan balance had not been reduced by one penny! I had only paid $48,000 in interest! I thought indentured servitude or debt bondage was a thing of the past.

I borrowed money from FEDERAL, U.S. Department of Education Direct Loans, and I don't dispute the fact that I am responsible for paying it back.

I called U.S. Department of Education Direct Loans and they talked in circles saying there is nothing that can be done except, "to make much larger payments to try to beat the interest accrual". I am very skeptical of this advice and have been told that even though I have been paying extra above the normal payment amount, they do not have to reduce my principle amount by 1 cent. Apparently they consider extra payments "advance payments", and are not likely to reduce the interest I am paying or the principle balance.

By their 30-year plan I'll have to pay back close to $350,000 before I am paid off for the $72,000 I borrowed. These are not some kind of shady, back-alley private loans; they are U.S. Department of Education Direct Loans. What I am really angry about is that I am apparently not allowed to refinance it by federal law. That is so unfair.

Something feels especially wrong about this since I have paid at least $160,000 in FEDERAL Income Tax since graduation, and I would likely pay close to a million dollars in FEDERAL Income Tax during a 30-year career thanks to my education. These tax estimates DO NOT include all the other taxes and interest on everything else my education has allowed/enabled me to pay to stimulate our badly mismanaged economy. That does not seem like a fair reward for being a contributing, educated, working taxpayer.

All analogies break down somewhere but in this one I am effectively giving U.S. Department of Education Direct Loans/Fannie Mae? an interest free loan with my prepayments or efforts to pay the loan off more quickly, and not getting the benefit of reducing my balance or the amount of interest I am paying each month. That is WRONG, and just as bad as the rip off scams by credit card companies that the government is finally doing something about.

I wish I had studied finance. Even though I earned an advanced degree and got a good job, I feel ripped off! I feel like I've be fattened up and harvested. This feels like blatant gouging and profiteering on the backs of students who would in theory, help to make this country a smarter and better place to live for everyone.

When are they going to do something about student loans?

Commenter: Albert pesant
My student loans are literally destroying my life. I am unemployed and completely unable to repay the $85,000 that I owe. I went to school later in life (I'm now 48), and I can't see how I will pay back this money. I now feel it will be impossible for me to ever start a family, or own a home because, the economy being what it is today, I will probably have to take an entry level position. I will retire before these loans are paid back.

Harvard has eliminated student loans, why can't the rest of the US?

Commenter: kuhio kane
I had to take out student loans over the years to help myself, my wife, and kids go to school. I have two small SallieMae loans of 36K (maybe another smaller one too), a student loan from a Bank that is not consolidated, oh yeah, and a SallieMae consolidated loan for appx. 178K.

I was allowed by the school where I got my first Masters to return to the same campus and get another Masters as shortly after working in the area of the first degree, the job market disappeared. So, I returned to campus with a "hardship" pass to get another Masters in a field where there were available jobs. Of course, those positions are disappearing in this current economy.

So, another degree and I was able to work for 10 years full time in my latest field of study. Now the state budget is threatening to take away a lot of our sources of income through job elimination, furloughs, work-for-free days, and increasing health benefit costs.

I've been looking for a full time job for three years. I have survived on part-time work, I don't know how.

As just the consolidated SallieMae loan alone is at 8.5% and the forebearance on that loan is capitalized quarterly at the tune of appx. $3,000 (per quarter), one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to get it that I will have little chance to pay off the loans on a high school teacher's salary. So, two Masters, two teaching credentials, two Bachelor's (my wife is a teacher), and a son in college. I'm into it for about a quarter million. And here's the kicker: I'm 62 years old.

Every time I speak with someone at SallieMae I suggest that they take a look at my age somewhere emblazoned on their computer screen and then I laugh. Barring winning the Lotto ( I have no wealthy relatives), a snowball has a better chance in hell than I do with paying off these loans.

While I still believe that higher education is a great thing, it guarantees nothing. It's being entitled, having an inheritance, or a wealthy family that gets you around the dreaded student loan. I also have appx. 150K in credit card debt, although I am disputing a lot of that. Even an impending bankruptcy will not discharge the government loans.

I took the loans knowing not much of the details. I needed the money. I've been able to go backwards financially for 20 years. I have not defaulted on any of the loans...... yet. But our current economic disaster, perpetrated by Big Banks, has shattered any chance for me to experience a life even half as good as my parents had it.

If we had a legitimate social system in America, people would be free to attend schools, training programs, whatever at little or no expense.

Commenter: Renee Rossman
I am terrified. Student Loans are affecting millions. Some have committed suicide, others left the country. has many facts and stories and revelations. The book, The Student Loan Scam, by articulate author, Alan Collinge, has been acclaimed for its research and
stunning information.
College graduates' lives are being destroyed with
loans that never go away...not by bankruptcy, disability, social security, etc. Garnishment without court orders. NO LEGISLATORS, LAWYERS to help.I am shaking as I type this wishing someone
would address and expose it in order to free
innocent people.
Hillary Clinton wrote a Student Borrower Bill of Rights, Ted Kennedy worked with her. Jesse Jackson is concerned.
Congress must restore student loan protections.
Someone must help those in need NOW owing $300,000 for a $30,000 loan, for example. The Albany Resolution would be forgiveness. A documentary is being made.
Please Contact me or knowledgeable author, Alan Collinge, whose phone number I will happily share.
Thank you.
Renee Rossman (arizona)

Commenter: Amy Jansen
I was naive and did not know what it meant to sign loan applications nor I thought how I was to pay off. Inexperienced without parental advise but old enough to keep borrowing. It does not help to be granted a right to borrow based on calculations. The government should give financial help without banks, without repayment. The right of education should not be taken because you do not have the means to pay. It should be the right of all to acquire an education without banks profiting. Why many European countries have almost free education while we have to make a profit. ?

Commenter: matt
if Obama really wanted to stimulate the economy he'd forgive all of our student loan debt not all of GM's debt!

Commenter: NancyAnn
I have been unemployed for 6 years.
In 1999 or 2000- (I Can not remember)........I was granted a bankruptcy.
At that time,I was also in school. but, I became ill. and I quit school. It was my last semester.
Also at that same time my husband had a nervous breakdown. it was his 3rd one.'He has had 7 in the past 15 years. and his mom who we lived with was sick.
I never made much money to speak of......i was primarily a housewife.
I took care of 2 families.
Collectively,we never made much money to speak of either.......THAT, was why i went to school.
I borrowed 27,000. Over the past 11 years it has blossomed to nearly 80,000.
I sent letters, I talked on the phone.........frankly I gave up.
I can not get work at this point. first and foremost, there is no work where I live that I can do.
Second,no one will hire me.I think I must have applied to the local college here
at least 14 times in the past 4 years........
I will probably never get a job here. i was a sub teacher for awhile, I kept getting sick.and,last year, i got hurt on the job, and sent home, I was told by the teachers,I wasn't wanted in the school. rooms because of my handicaps..........they need someone to get on the floor with the kids- and that I can not do...........
I am not eligible for unemployment, disability, or anything else...........I fall through all the cracks.........
I have no monthly income.

My husband was put into mental health care with the veterans,for his troubles, and suicide prevention.He, is a Viet Nam Veteran.
He is on permanent disability. It gives us a little, but it does not make ends meet.
My loans were handed over to a collector in New York. They have tried to harass me and I will not let them. they have however also called my neighbor twice in the past 2 months, and pretended they were calling our house........and then asked our neighbor to ask me to call them......saying they have been trying to reach me, and pretending they
I tried to better my life, so I could help myself and my family, and that is all I am guilty of-
trying to be a productive family member, and contributing citizen to my country.....
they stripped us of our consumer rights, and removed the statute of limitations, and bankruptcy laws.........this is wrong,
One has to ask why student loans are the only loan industry that this problems exist in....
the plain fact is that were were targeted. People like me need to be released, so that we can go back to school if we choose to and get re educated, and become functioning members of this country.........

Commenter: Paula McKibbin
I am 53 and a public defender in California. I have my wages garnished by GC Services - no notice and no hearing. Payroll advised me that they can do this. My loan leaped to $160,000 (more than $60,000 added on in last two years) and my requests for documentation met on deaf ears. I have to leave my negative-equity home by the end of the week. They are selling it at auction. Then they'll come after me, no doubt. My office is trying to get everyone to take jobs elsewhere because of the budget deficit. I have three teenagers, no savings, no retirement. There is no relief in bankruptcy. I was lied to when I started law school. They told me the loans would be a matter of car payments for ten years max, which seemed a lot to me at the time. Here I am 18 years later, with a debt that is enormous and growing. Give me debtor's prison or relief. I want this nightmare over with. Paula McKibbin -

Commenter: KImberly
My husband and I attended college after our children were born. As we had married and had children young, we relied heavily on federal loans to pay for our education. If all had gone well we would have had a relatively easy time paying them back. Unfortunately all did not go well. Before we graduated my grandpa developed Alzheimer's disease. I stayed home so that I could help my grandma care for him. We were determined to keep him out of a nursing home, and for that to be possible my grandma needed someone with her full time. There was no other family in the state. With only my husband's income, we could not afford the payments on our student loans. Neither did we qualify for a hardship deferrment. Sallie Mae uses the poverty level for a family of two to determine hardship, and we were a family of five. We tried to explain the situation to the lender, but they rudely told us that our family situation was not their concern. They even suggested that I ask my grandma for some of her Social Security to help with the payments. In the end we were forced to forbear our loans, and allow the interest to grow. After my grandpa died my grandma moved in with us. She had developed colon cancer. I continued to stay home to care for her full time. We couldn't afford even a part time nurse. Now my husband was supporting six people. Again, Sallie Mae informed us that they would not consider family size or illness in determining payments, and that we would just have to continue the forbearance. This, of course, is highly advantagous to the lender. We were having a difficult time making it from month to month without the student loans. There were months when our electricity alone was $800/month due to the constantly running machines used in my grandma's care. Her cancer had spread, and her care had become incredibly expensive. We were forced to continue our forbearance. While I am very grateful that we could care for both of my grandparents, and that they were both able to be at home when they passed away, our student loan payments are now over $1000 every month. We have not been able to save for our childrens' future, afford medical care, or save for our retirement. I was diagnosed with systemic lupus last year, and still not been able to see a doctor to begin treatment. We rarely spend money on nonessentials. There is no money to spend. All because we choose to take care of our family- something I would think the American government would not only encourage, but facilitate. Doesn't it embody "American values"? Instead we have been heavily penalized for it. I contacted legislators about our situation, and received letters claiming that difficulting in repaying student loans is caused by people spending too heavily- as if our situation was created by a lavish lifestyle. All in all, everyone involved has been unbelievably heartless, despite all of their campaign rhetoric. It makes little sense for the government to squeeze the very people that could make up the middle class of America in such a way, but I suppose it helps the lobbying companies that donate to their campaigns.

Commenter: Response to Republican

What of the many business ventures that fail, and as a result are unable to pay taxes, employees, small business loans? Should all of these entreprenuers be subjected to a permenant unsummountable debt load for the rest of their lives. What would that do to entrepreneurship in America? Is it only the rich that are allowed a way out?

You make me sick in your refusual to acknowlege that the lendor and the debtor enter a relationship in which the debtors success is a risk, it may or may not happen. You wish to transfer 100% of the risk based on a promise, based on the expectation of success and income, to the debtor, and relegate him to a virtual debtors prison for the rest of his life. Is that really what Republicans think is the way to treat fellow Americans?

Commenter: Cindy Warner
I am a former WLAE TV/PBS freelancer and I started a news page for Californians to contact their legislators and class action attorneys and each other, and with info on how to file the controversial adversary proceeding to get an undue hardship discharge of student loans.

Commenter: Permanently insolvent
My education began before the changes in the law that made for this financial hell that I exist in. I never had a chance to make a different choice.

I am the first in my family to graduate with a four year college degree. Not only did I finish my first four year degree, I went on to one of the nation's top law schools and now I am working on a Masters in Health Administration I started my adventure in education in 1983.
When I graduated with my four year degree, there was not a lot of opportunity in Hawaii, and I thought I was smart and I was definitely ambitious. So I took the MCAT (medical school admissions test). I matriculated into medical school. It was a small relatively inexpensive state school. However, I was not real good at biology, and I struggled for three years. In addition in 1986 everyone was saying that we do not need more physicians and that managed care would make Doctors all salaried employees. So I tried taking the LSAT and did phenomenally well.
I was accepted into two of the top 15 law schools in the country. For a lower middle class/middle class person like me these acceptances seemed to be truly great opportunities. I read all their recruiting brochures, and it seemed anyone graduating with a decent GPA would easily get a job in a large or medium firm, or even some corporations and earn $70,000 to $80,000 a year which was good in early 1990's. The promise seemed to justify the marginal appearing risk. I had no job waiting for me. You see we were in another recession and all the corporate merger and acquisition craze had just ended. The big firms did not need lawyers and the corporations were cutting back.
What I did have was a total of 80,000 in Stafford, private, and school loans. So I stalled, I got into a post graduate law program for six months, which increased my student loan balance, but put off payments. Back then I was looking at a monthly payment of 700 to 800, and no job in the offing, I took my in laws advice and with their help opened up my very own law practice. I was able to find a way to make payments on all loans for several years (though only a year of profit). Then my in laws got sick, my mother in law and primary supporter of my practice died unexpectedly in 1997, my father in law, a renowned local dentist developed Parkinson's and lost all his money to a scam artist; the housing market burst, and my wife left with everything of value in her mother's estate.
With no source of client referrals and without a continuing equity increase in the family real estate to create cash flow, my fledgling law practice crashed and burned in 1998 and 1999. No surprise I suffered depression and dropped off the grid for a couple of months, well maybe it was more like a year to eighteen months, working as a tour guide, car salesman, insurance adjuster and other such odd jobs. My entire life, family and support structure that I had relied on for ten years had disintegrated. In 2000 I got help at my church in the form of counseling, then saw a physician/pastor and began treating my depression. In 2001, with the help of a well meaning attorney who was older and beginning to loss his competence, I filed bankruptcy. Too bad my attorney did not see the legislation change coming down in 1998, he might have been able to help me file much earlier and avoid the mess I am now in. By then of course Student loans had become non-dischargeable. I remained under or un-employed for years, though I was seeking employment everywhere I could think (literally thousands of job applications and recruiters contacted). In the beginning of 2005 I finally landed a job with a struggling insurance carrier, which lead to my current position with a much more stable company.
So this is how it is today. I remarried in 2005 to a beautiful woman, and have a beautiful son, I have no MD degree as I left that program early, I have no usable JD degree (with the financial collapse and resulting disarray of my office came disbarment (but first my "discipline" was buried for seven years)), surprise the law school I went to has been no help to me. I was allowed to consolidate my student federal Stafford loans with the Department of Education to avoid default status in 2003. So now I have a consolidated federal student loan of $250,000 , also there is a $30,000 private loan and there is $18,000 to the school. The big one is all Stafford with a fixed 9% rate, and thus the interest is $18,000 a year on the federal loan alone. Right now I have a deferment in place, meaning I do not have to make payments, but I still do pay something every month to all three loans separately. What started out as a $65,000 to $75,000 principal is now almost $300,000, despite thousands paid on the loans. I have a good stable job, but not six figures or anything, but it still has potential to grow. Even with this job, my prospects are limited by age and likely work life. Further the current economic climate has greatly lowered the likelihood that senior staff will retire and open up potential advancement opportunities. So still you can imagine that with my wife and two year old son to support, even though I have a salary, there is no way I will ever be able to meet the interest payments each year, much less effect the principal balances. So the loans keep growing and growing and growing.
This is the absolute definition of indentured servitude. I recall reading history books of poor people in Europe being given passage to the US with the promise of a new life, only to find when they get here that the interest on their passage is so high that they are forever forced to work it off, and really only one in 20 get that new life.
I now live in constant fear, that once my six years of hardship deferment expires next year, that the government or the private loan company will eventually just destroy my marriage and take every thing away I have worked to build these past five years. How am I going to retire (I am in my fifties now), how am I going to provide for my son's education? I never want him to borrow for his education. Where is the difference in my borrowing that does not allow for discharge, than Terri, a private loan guarantee company that was able to file bankruptcy to renegotiate itself out of its bad decisions.

Commenter: Daniel McCaffrey
I took out a private student loan with Sallie Mae in September of 1996. When I finished school in 1998 Sallie Mae demanded a payment schedule which amounted to over 50% of my take home wages. When I tried to negotiate a payment amount proportional to my wages Sallie Mae simply refused and put my loan into default. I found out later on that teh government guarantees the loan for Sallie Mae and then they can continue to collect on the debt by selling it to a third party debt collector. The debt collector, NCO Financial systems now says I owe them another $12,000.00 even though I already paid over $10,000.00 on this loan to another collection agency. NCO is never remiss in reminding me that because I have a student loan I will always owe them money and the debt want be considered paid off until I die. No kidding, this is how bad these usury loans have become since Congress took away consumer rights for student loan borrowers.

Commenter: Dustin Logan
I made the biggest mistake of my life. Thinking that I could raise myself out of poverty, by studying engineering, I enrolled in college. Of course, to do that, I needed financial aid, which inluded student loans. That was back in the mid 80's, and I was only 29 at the time.

But then, not long after completing school, I became disabled, no longer able to work. I had never escaped that poverty, which I had been so desperate to leave behind. Instead, I now faced a lifetime of living on paltry Disablity payments, with only a little extra from SSI.

At least, I was told that my loans would be dismissed. In fact, the same government doctor that was in charge of my Social Security case, signed my loan discharge forms. It couldn't get more legal than that!

Yet, in the late 90's, YEARS after my disability case had been resolved, I suddenly got a call from EdFund (the California version of Sallie Mae). They now claimed to have NO record of my disability discharge. I tried to explain that a mistake had been made. But, they refused to listen. I sent them copies of my discharge paperwork. But, they refused to accept "copies". How is that legal?

Now, for over a decade, I have suffered under almost constant harassment. Sometimes, the calls come as often as 3 times a day! i have nothing. What do they expect to get? They even followed me to the home of some inlaws, where I was staying temporarily. Further, they claim that this will never end. There is NO statute of limitations, and NO bankruptcy protection. So,I will be hounded for the rest life! All, over money that I do not owe. This is extortion, pure and simple. We need to fight back!

As a final note, I must say that the student loans were my ONLY contacts with the lending industry. I am NOT one of these people who lives beyond his means. I don't have a car (can't afford the expense) and I have never even owned a credit card. I guess, like anyone else who is poor, I'm just not an "American".

Commenter: morgan
I graduated in 1999 with a degree in animation and video anticipating a well paying job. I was fortunate to find one a year later with a good company, a navy contractor. I was able to make my $400 dollar loan payments with ease and was proud to do so. I was paying my way, American dream kinda stuff. A few years later I lost that job as the program I was working for got cut back. I wasn't able to take any of the work I had done for this company with me as a portfolio, so finding a new job was tricky. After a few years of being unable to find work I fell into a depression which cost me among other things a fiance. I'm going back to college now to become a nurse, but my $40,000 in loans have blown up to $80,000, with more interest being capitalized every month. My loans are in default and soon they will begin taking 15% of my meager income. When I finally do graduate nursing I'll be faced with over $1000 in loan payments a month on a nurses salary.
I took out my loans in good faith. I was smart about only borrowing the money I needed. I don't use credit cards and my car is payed for quicky so the only debt I have is my school loans. While i was employed I made my payments proudly and on time. My fiance was even paying my loans the first year I was unemployed so I wouldn't have to take a deferment. Now this loan is growing out of control like a cancer. I want to pay back the money I borrowed, but the rest of this is just raw profiteering off of my misfortunes. I'll be enslaved paying for the degree I can no longer use.

Commenter: Gloretha Gray
Hi,I went to school in 1986 on a grant, and about 18 years later a loan company contacted me in 1998 saying I need to pay my school loan. I was shocked!I had no paper from the school I attended, and the school was no longer in business.
I am disabled and can't work, and I feel because of this I was denied my disability. I'm not the only one this happened too, their are other disabled people that have been denied, and lawyers will not help with this matter. Their are lawyers that say they can help you get your benefits, but the don't.The student funding system is a scam, and I feel they weighted all these years knowing I wouldn't have the papers, or they would be so faded out til I couldn't prove them wrong. The student loan should be out lawed.and there should only be grants for people who want to go to school. Now I'm trying to go to school and I can't get a grant of any kind because of this. If I can't go back to school and get the training I need to take care of myself and get the medical help I need, then this is abuse on a disabled person, and this action could end my life if I can't get the care and medication I need. I', on about seven medications everyday and because of not having my SSD I go for weeks on end without medication. My medication cost me about $160.00 amonth I get it when I can.

Commenter: Dan Lozer
25-year story, and still going, in short form.
First collector and I settled on amount of payment based on disclosure of my income. The account was recalled, at which time a couple of my payments disappeared (it was a tactic a lot used at that time)and the amount owed tripled. Hired an attorney --but they ignored his existence.
Now, making payments and am still considered to be paying interest only.
When you're young, the future paychecks look big. Don't be fooled.

Commenter: PCWickland
I came out of college in 1982/83 when job losses were as they are today. With $6,000 in student loan debt and no income. I could find no job that paid a living wage, and I could find no human being within the loan system who would help me restructure. I sent payments of $150.00 a month in good faith because I wanted to repay and watched my debt increase with every payment. Now my debt has balooned to near $30,000. I have disassociated with the system which I see as explotative and criminal...(no human being should be allowed to treat another as I have been). And I have recently read a Harpers magazine article, that explains why "not helping debtors" is so previlant... there's so much more money to be had. I have had daily phone calls for over 20 years from strangers, most of whom have a propesity to insult my human character. The calls have gone to all my neighbors and they have come to me with their concerns about these stranger calls. I believe the stress has had an adverse affect on my physical health I am in constant pain. Thank you for your interest in our stories. I never miss your broadcasts .

Patti Claire Wickland
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Commenter: Maureen
My story is like others here, but slightly different since we have never been in default of late on our payments.
We took out our loans in starting in 1987 and they were consolidated at a ridicously high interest rate. We have never missed a payment and have stellar credit. We have tried over the years to get a lower interest rate but have been told that we are locked in for life.We feel that we are at their mercy and climbing a mountain of debt that we will never see the downside of.
Another thing that I would like to add is that my daughter is in high school and will be going to college in a few years.We have no college fund because of our student loans. THIS WILL BECOME AN INTERGENERATIONAL POVERTY PROBLEM IF PREDATORY LENDING CONTINUES!! She is a bright child but will most likely go to junior college since it is my duty as a parent to protect her from accumulating huge debts and fall prey to predatory lending practices.

Commenter: Nancy
I went back to college when my disabled son entered high school. (I was already ill, but nobody realized it was serious.) I finished my undergrad, in the Honors track, and then did two masters back to back. At that point my loans totalled $35K - not bad for 3 degrees.

By then I was really sick. Grad school had been the last straw. I couldn't work away from home, and became a starving writer. Nobody told me that I qualified for discharge of my loans. I just kept putting them on deferment.

Now they're $87K and rising. The $35K I could have worked off, but $87K? No fair!!!

Commenter: Derek Courson
Hi, my name is Derek Courson and I am a student loan Defaulter. I graduated in 2001 from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida. I passed the bar exam on my first try in 2001. I paid my student loans until late 2006. At that point in time I was working as a public defender in Cocoa Beach, Florida. For some reason the office decided to move me from misdemeanor to a hardened felony division. I was handling murder cases, sexual assaults, Habitual Felony Offender cases, Prison Release Re-Offender cases and hundreds of other cases all without supervision or assistance. I lasted about six months and had a bit of break down. I lost three cases in a row. Clients received serious prison time and I blamed myself to an extent. I ended up going off by myself to try to get myself sorted out. In the mean time I defaulted on my student loans. I defaulted after six months without a payment. The student loan company did not contact me before I was put into default.

I was penalized almost 30,000 dollars in penalties and late fees.

The company contacted me and demanded payment in full. I couldn't pay, but I did agree to cure my default by making 9 payments of 400 dollars each. I made my payments but at the end of that time was not taken out of default status. The company increased the amount I owed to over 120,000 dollars and demanded full payment. Since then I have been in default for 3 years.

With the current economy being what it is I still haven't been able to find a good paying job that would let me make payments. I certainly can't pay the full 130k that it has ballooned to now.

Feel free to contact me at:

Commenter: Edward McKinley
Simply put, I am not handling my student loans. This is not, however, due to a lack of willingness or repeated offers to do so.
I graduated a state college in 1996 after completing a Master of Social Work program with honors. Over the next few years, serious family illness and tragedy coupled with very low paying entry level jobs lead me to default. I should mention that Sallie Mae also declined a forbearance I believe I was entitled to. Their is no effective recourse available to these kinds of actions.
Eventually, I was able to get back on track. When I aproached the issue of my student loans, what I found shocked me. My $38,000 debt had exploded to @ $70,000. I was in no position to make payments that wpuold satisfy this debt. The company charged with collecting it refused to negotiate any terms that would allow me to make meaninful payments. By "meaningful" I mean payments that would consistantly reduce the overall balance owed, rather than watch the balance continue to increase while sending any and all money I can muster at it while trying to maintain a modest standard of living.
Fast forward to today. The only things that have changed are the balance on my account @ $110,000 and I have become resigned to the reality that I will likely live with this over my head for the rest of my life without the ability to retire this debt.
The best deal I can currently seem to get is some kind of loan rehab. At the noutset it sounds tempting. But in reality a person would need to be incredibly gullible or desparate to agree to this. In essence I would end up paying @ $800 or more a month for 20 -30 years before this debt could be retired.I will have payed over a quarter million dollars for a $38,000 loan by then. Their may be a stipulation that it could be retired after 25 years, but then the forgiven balance would be taxed as income. I am currently 50 years old.
Most of my work has been with underserved populations and severely mentally ill. While their are loan forgiveness programs for some who do this work, I do not qualify because of default. I have had to move jobs on occassion simply to avoid the wage garnishments placed on my pay without a court prder or "fair" hearing. I cannot own a home. Long term committed relationships are very difficult under these circumstances and I feel that I have been essentially deprived of raising a family. Their are other potential consequences I live in fear of on a daily basis.
Had I run up a debt gambling, supported a drug habit or otherwise squandered this money in credit cards, I would have had recourse under the law. For numerous felonies I would have long ago settled my debt to society.
I continue to work with people less fortunate than myself and help them to overcome obstacles, but even my ability to do that may, at any time, be taken from me.
Their are thousands with more compelling stories than mine. Our only apparent hope is that congress have the forsight to restore the standard consumer protections that were erroneously removed from us in the first place. Did anyone really believe that by removing these protections student loan borrowers would not be exploited ?

Commenter: Lakechia Powell
I was attending Sanford Brown College, and was told that I only qualified for student loans, so I was given a loan thru one company with a low interest rate, and then it was bought by Sallie Mae with a higher interest rate, my private loan with them has gone from 2000, to over 5000, and the school I have come to learn is non-accredited, and I am unable to work in the health field because no one recognizes that school. Sallie Mae has threatened me with taking my money out of my accounts without my approval, when I told them I wasn't able to pay the 68/mos they said that I was refusing to pay and that they would place me in default, which would in then allow them to garnish me. I have now had to go back to school in order to get a deferment because Sallie Mae charged 50.00 per deferment/forebearance and they lied about the time I had used to try and tell me that I no longer could qualify. Sallie Mae along with the other crooks have caused so much pain with their greed, lies and threat and I am so happy that someone is speaking out. Thx

Commenter: Tom
In the mid 80's the financial aid dept issued me a check of $ 5.000 for the continuing
degree MA in Education.

While in school, I became sick with spinal problems that made it difficult to stand or sit. I had to leave college and quit teaching.
I applied for Social Security Disability. While receiving benefits
I asked for a Medical deferment form.
My Doctor wrote a description of my condition
that I was unable to work.

The Department Of Education received the form and said the form was
altered in my behalf. It was denied. I requested another form, my Doctor
signed again ,but it was denied .Three deferment forms signed by the doctor
all rejected.
Later the Department of Education wrote saying they will
garnish my Social Security disability check.
Now I'm making small payments to Dept of Education.
Current balance $36.000 and growing.

Commenter: kelly
i received a 5 year professional degree in architecture. at the ripe age of 18 in my freshmen year of college i took out about $23,000 in student loans. essentially i walked away with a degree and about $80,000 in student loans, even after a $15,000 per year scholarship. an incredibly small percentage of that (say 10%) subsidized by the federal government; therefore, the private loans i took out to finance my education come with a variable interest rate.

after my luxurious 6 month grace period, i was paying up to $750 a month to sallie mae. my salary was barely $40,000 as a young architect. do the math and you'll see that i was quickly pushed into depending on credit cards and looking for a higher paying job in a larger office.

i firmly believe that the loans and financial situations that colleges and student loan borrowers allow young adults to put themselves in is criminal. for me, it closely resembles the mortgage crisis - giving home loans to families that will never be able to keep up with the payment therefore constantly holding fear of money over people's head. there's a small math equation that could have been done when i was in college to see that i could have never paid back the money i was taking out in a financially responsible way from the salary i would make even 5 years after graduating. most professions do not make what doctors or lawyers make allowing one to pay up to $750 a month in loans.

this year i was only able to claim $800 on my taxes to receive any break or benefit. the idea that the government or any private institution would help young adults struggling to pay for their education is foreign to lawmakers and congress. i went to college, i didn't go on a hawaiian vacation!

i guess in the end, one could say that i'm incredibly fortunate to have gone to college; however, at the same time, i am trapped by an everyday growing payment.

Commenter: Turquoise
My life is hell due to a student loan and I have tried everything to take care of it. I never got to use my degree due to a strong push of affirmitive action in this area and serious health problems during my last semester. After going through cancer, several operations and becoming disabled I tried many times to take care of my loan and ask to have it forgiven due to health problems and not being able to work but was denied and was told I would have to be on my death bed and have a doctors statement to that affect before it would be forgiven so in the mean time a 5,000 dollar loan has turned into a 50,000 dollar loan dues to interest and my life is hell. I have made payments and even made a few payments through some lawyer which I never was given credit for and the amount just keeps growning. I can no longer deal with this its hopless!

Commenter: Marla Benoist
I have student loan debt beginning in 1998. I was in deferrment in 2004 when I became ill and could not work. I was threatened with default and subsequent reporting to credit bureau. I managed to get in the forbearance status and bought more time, literally.

Basically my defaulting student loans were being researched by collecting agencies and I received a lot of calls stating negative consequences if I didnt make immediate payments, successive payments etc. In 2007 I was a new hire on a job and at the same time I started receiving calls that I had to make a payment or my wages would be garnished. I was suffering from chronic anxiety at this time and did not have health care. I was unable to deconstruct effectively the status of my loan situation, partly because i was being given false information by the different loan companies. More importantly my health condition was disabling and I struggled to analyze the real situation I faced. For example, I agonized over my new company receiving a request for wage garnishment. I did not think this would reflect well as a new hire. Also, when I was not satisfied with my new job, I decided to go back to college and get my teaching certificate. I was told continually by all the loan companies, Sallie Mae, Direct Loans, that I could not be admitted to college and receive any financial aid because of my defaulted loans. I went to my college and discussed this with the loan specialist. He suggested that I consolidate my loans. When I called the loan companies to consolidate they continued to tell me that I was not eligible. While my college continued to tell me I was! I was highly anxious at this point and asked my college rep. numerous times if he was sure I qualified, he did his best to reassure me and filled out the consolidation paperwork. My loans were consolidated and I did go back to college and completed my coursework. My loan debt is 70K and I only have a bachelors degree in political science from a small inexpensive college and a paralegal certificate from UCLA. My health has improved through health care at my university. I am currently awaiting acceptance news from my application to an autism specialist masters program at university of oregon. My college offered no funding for teaching programs. The U of O program offers what is called "service earns support" if accepted, my tuition is covered under the agreement that I work for 2 years in my profession. This is the only way I can go further in school. A teacher in Oregon tops out at 50K and I am already 48 years old. I have no assets or inhertitance, so my pay back would be from salary only, plus I am single and pay all my own bills. The loan repayment structure mapped out over 20 years has my entire pay back amount at 135K! I'm just now throughly reviewing my loan experience and accounting for each charge and interest accrued. I have located a charge for 10K for consolidating my loans. I was never made aware of this charge. My credit is shot with 15 individual defaulted loans listed.
I intend to fight this issue and contest excessive interest charges and fees unjustified.
There are many details of harrassment and threats from collection companies, one guy even laughed at me that I was sick!
I believe in paying back the amount I borrowed and that the defaults should be removed from my credit report.

Commenter: Mary Jo Alyanak
I left Cal Poly in 1989 with 2 degrees, a little less than $20K in regular student loans, and a $5K National Defense Student Loan. Things would have been okay, but there was a bit of a recession in Bay Area construction. I found work which was not exactly what I went to school for, but it paid my bills until a back injury interfered. While I was healing from surgery they expected a full recovery, but on 1/27/93, I was violently attacked at work by a man who had been embezeling from the company. It was a workers' compensation claim, so I was called "temporarily disabled" for more than a decade, and the student loans ballooned to more than $33K with interest. I never did give up my right to have them dismissed for permanent disablility, so upon finally settling the workers' comp case, my neurosurgeon filled out the appropriate form. The company collecting refused to accept the form, twice. The manager there told me that I had cheated by consolidating loans after I knew I was disabled, and insisted I was not eligible for dismissal. She considered "disbursement" to apply to the consolidation date, while it is clearly defined as referring to when the student was in school. Social Security has considered me disabled since 2005, and now the Government takes 15% of my SS Disablility to pay the student loan that was supposed to be dismissed if I were ever permanently disabled. Go figure.

Commenter: Betty Kemper
In 2000, I was a 53 year old returning student with high hopes and dreams of being a COLLEGE GRADUATE. I signed up for and received financial aid. Yes, what a NIGHTMARE. I lasted almost two years in my educational quest and dropped out in financial ruin. I filed for bankruptcy. Not only did financial aid not sustain me through my education, as I understood it would, the University revealed its self as an administrational incompetence. I refuse to pay for an education I didn't get. I refuse to pay for someone else's incompetence. Could this really have been an acredited University? (My list of grievances has about 6 major issues).
Now I'm to be the responsible one and pay up. No one at the University is taking responsibility for their actions.
I refuse to pay. Now at almost 62, I understand that the government can take a % of my Social Security retirement benefits to repay my financal aid loans.

Commenter: Maire Johnson (soon to be PhD)
I am actually dealing with my student loans right now by trying not to think about them. I expect to defend my dissertation in the early fall and to graduate with my PhD in November. The principle alone of all of my student loans, from my return to school for a second bachelor's degree in 1998 through the loans I've had to take out to get through the fall term of 2009, will be about $200,000, only about 1/3 of which are subsidized and about $33,000 of which are privately-administered graduate PLUS loans rather than Staffords and therefore carry a higher interest rate.

It's frankly overwhelming. Between the timing of my defense (which changes the definition of my ABD - all but dissertation - status when I'm applying for jobs) and the difficulties of hiring freezes in community colleges, state schools, universities and private institutions around North America, I have not yet been offered a job in the fall. That means that when I graduate, I may well not have an academic position for a number of months. Add to that the fact that my partner and I are in the process of trying to combine our households across international borders (I am a US student studying in Canada, and my partner lives in Maine), leaving issues of where I could work during my studies and where I might be able to work once I graduate -- to say nothing of where my partner could work if our households were to be combined here in Canada -- an entirely new level of complication.

When I look at the principle alone of my student loans, I find it hard to not feel completely overwhelmed. I don't live a profligate life. Both I and my partner are used to 'making do' when and where we can. We're not afraid of living very, very cheaply in order to make ends meet. And yet I look at my debt, and I feel like I will never pay it off...the monthly payments alone will be $2,000 at a minimum, if they insist that I pay all my loans off in 10-15 years. I do intend to get a debt consolidation loan as soon as I can, particularly given the low interest rates presently available, and I know that will save me a lot of money over time. But I can't get a debt consolidation loan if I don't have a job...and therein lies the crux.

My partner's credit was ruined by a third party in a prior business arrangement. I can't just declare personal bankruptcy; it will ruin MY credit too, to say nothing of the unfair load that would then fall upon the next generation of hopeful students trying to get Stafford funding. All we can do is our best, but I have to admit that it is often a serious problem for me to believe that my best will be enough to pay off this massive debt.

I'm aware that my debt is higher than that carried by a lot of students -- a consequence largely of studying in Canada, where my cost of living was higher than expected and where the abrupt reversal of the exchange rate after I moved here meant that my money suddenly became worth a lot less -- and I've actually compared it to the standard debt of average Americans. My student loans equal a house in a lot of states. They equal at least 4 Toyota Prius cars. I have to laugh at times, thinking of it that way, but the truth is a lot harder to face. When the payment schedules come, the best I'll be able to do is to decide whether or not to defer -- and accrue still more debt -- or to try to rearrange the monthly payment schedule to something vaguely affordable. Of course, a lot of that will depend upon whether or not I am able to get a job.

Commenter: Chef Ron the Plumber
My student loans are ruining my life. I obtained my loans through Sallie Mae with little education on how they worked. It turns out most of my loans are private loans with high interest rates. Little can be done to change my payment terms because of this. Right now I have over $80,000.00 in loans.

I was injured on the job 9 years ago and was told I should seek employment in another field as the work I did as a plumber would be to hard on my body. I enrolled in Culinary school after being told by a recruiter that most student loans could be payed by making small payments after graduation and then increasing as years go by. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Upon graduation I was told my $40,000.00 in tuition was now $80,000.00 in loans and that my payment would be $1000.00 a month. Before I enrolled I was told an average salary of an Executive Chef in Chicago was around $75,000.00 a year. I did my own research and also found those figures to be accurate. What no one told me is that even with my 4.0 grade average and my degree no one would hire me as an Executive Chef. In fact I had a hard time even getting a minimum wage position in any restaurant with just my degree and little background experience. Yet my loans were due.

I had to return to plumbing to make my payments. Now with the economy the way it is even my career in plumbing is not enough. I am getting closer and closer to having to file bankruptcy but that still won't solve my student loan crisis. I want to pay off my debts, they are mine and I owe the money, I understand that. I have always payed my debts and prided myself on having an excellent FICO score. Yet at this time in my life I have no idea how I will ever get out of this debt. The stress of worry is hurting my health, my relationship and my well being in general. I have never felt so stressed and so full of fear of what the future holds.

Commenter: Anne
I wish I had graduated years ago instead of just last month. I had all of these ideas of what I could do with my degree from a great private college. Now I am unemployed and many of the places I had thought I might work at after I graduated have put a freeze on their hiring. Now I am unemployed and absolutely terrified at the prospect of having to pay over $400 a month in a few months to student loans when I am not making enough to pay for my rent, car, insurance, food, credit cards. I don't know what to do...

Commenter: Sharon Haney
As a home loan officer for 30 years, I have seen some nightmare credit issues. Most recently, an applicant was denied because they had been extended student loans of $98,000 to complete a bachelor's degree in social services. This person is a single parent making $27,000 per year. Now that the degree has been completed, they expect a raise to MAYBE $36,000. How can this person provide for themselves and children AND make any dent in a $98,000 student loan balance on $27,000 to $36,000 per year? Some measure of limitations should be placed on how much can be borrowed for student loans. Many people majoring in non-finance fields really have no concept of budgeting or personal financial management. They will borrow and borrow with no concept of what will happen when they go into repayment.
Furthermore, every time you borrow for a semester, that appears as a new loan on your credit report. An adult working and attending college make take several years to complete a degree. Then we their credit report is pulled, their score is hit hard because of the number of open accounts they have.
Additionally, you often cannot tell by looking at the credit report exactly the status of student loans. Loans that have been consolidated show up as a larger balance, but often STILL show up individually!
The student loan program needs to be revamped from the ground up: Qualification, limits on what one person can borrow, servicing when the loan is in repayment, reporting to credit bureaus. Its a mess!

Commenter: Dieter
Most people that have extremely high incomes have a college degree. These few fortunate college graduates raise the statistical average income of all college graduates. The vast majority of college students, however, will have incomes equivalent to non-degree workers. When it comes right down to it, most people do not benefit from a higher education. Education places most students deep into debt only.

To avoid repaying students loans for my worthless education, I continue in school and run up more and more student loans. Eventually, I plan to consolidate my loans through the federal government. I will use the Income Contingent program that calculates repayment based on income. If the loans are not fully repaid by the end of the repayment period, the remaining balance is forgiven. Furthermore, if you retire during the repayment period, you can apply for a hardship waiver that forgives the remaining balance early.

My advice, take your time. Spread your education out over your career as much as possible by pursuing various graduate degrees. Since corporations fail to share an equitable portion of the wealth produces with the workers that produced that wealth then be a burden on society. I refuse to be the good servant.

Commenter: Ken Hurst
I become completely disabled after I graduated. I am on SSI Social Security I have applied to have my student loans forgiven and they denied it. My doctor stated that I was completely disabled now and in the future and explained why. They denied it with no explanation. I don't know what to do I enlisted the help of a lawyer they would not give him any explanation he said the information I sent in should suffice. I am getting a temporary deferment but don't know what I will do when it is over.

Commenter: Private Student Loans

The above link tells you in great detail, with lots of references, about the plight of borrowers who had the misfortune of having a private student loan. It was written by an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. All student loan borrowers have been mistreated, in my opinion, but, the private student loan borrowers are in even worst shape and this paper outlines the particular problems that private student loan holders have. If, after learning more about this problem, you feel that your fellow Americans have been taken advantage of and mistreated, please call, write or e-mail your Congressional representatives and tell them no way are we going to allow this to continue and that you want action NOW. Unless we, as a group, insist that Congress correct the problems it allowed to be created, things will continue as they are with students becoming more and more buried in debt.

Commenter: liz
I paid off my student loans a number of years ago, but had a horrible experience with them. I was told by the university I attended that the loan servicer had been indicted for fraud. Why would such companies be allowed to lend to students? I was caused very much trouble by the company, and eventually, when it was sold to Sallie Mae, I asked for a reduction to compensate for the experience. I was told to pay up.

Commenter: Thought I did a good job
I know that it may seem that people don't know what they are getting into with student loans, but I believe that they do not. i graduated from high school with honors, third in my class. I had enough scholarships to cover half the cost of my undergraduate, but I was unable to find that kind of funding for my master's degree. I had always wanted to be a counselor and assumed (wrongly) that I would make enough money to support myself and my student loans after I received my master's degree. Since obtaining my degree I have found that if I was not married, I would not be able to afford to have a small apartment, health insurance and pay for my student loans. I know many people in the mental health field who have two to three jobs just to survive. I think the major problem is that with my federal loans, I am only allowed to consolidate them one time! Other loans you can shop around for a better interest rate, but not so with these loans. In terms of my private loans, I could go with a variable rate or a really high fixed rate. I have found that now was not the greatest time to consolidate my loans, but what choice did I have? I pay over $700 a month, which is more than our house payment. I feel a little scammed not only by the student loan lenders for not allowing more options for payments and interest rates, but by the colleges and universities themselves. I think it should be disclosed that that you will end up with a job that will not allow you to pay for the cost of getting the degree required for the job. I cannot live on my salary with my student loans and it shouldn't be that way. I think that the cost of education should be commensurate with the salary of the job. Mental Health therapists do not make the kind of money that would allow them to afford their education in order to have their job and that is not right.

Commenter: harold jones





Commenter: You need the facts
Republican, you are also a very rare breed. As someone who has been around hundreds and hundreds of people who sign real estate contracts and mortgage loan documents, no one, and I mean no one reads their documents including their promissory note (with the possible occasional exception of looking at the interest rate) no matter how much you encourage and beg. The only people who read the documents are the lawyers who create them for the benefit of the other party. To read them would take many hours and most people do not take that time. Additionally, many have a hard time understanding the legalese in the documents and, of course, that is on purpose. But you expect an 18 year old to sit and read documents when "adults" don't. Also, for private student loans, you are not given the terms and conditions of your loan until AFTER you are obligated. This was another gift from Congress to the private lenders. And just where are they supposed to get money for school when this is the case for all the loans? The facts are they have very little choice, if any at all, and they are often steered by the school to their "preferred lender", and many borrowers don't have a clue what the whole system is all about yet you feel they should "buck up" and they shouldn't have gotten themselves in this mess. Can you still say that these young people are fully responsible for getting into trouble with predators waiting to entrap them at every turn? Give me a break. This is wrong no matter which way you look at it and I grieve for each and every borrower who got put in this position. I follow this field every single day and Republican you do not have all the facts.

Commenter: Za beth
Student loan is really a nightmare, they keep on raising up the interest, how can we paid it off? I live pay check to pay check, I am a single mother, I decided to go to school, hoping I can get pay more that what I am doing. I am a custodian in one good hospital, and I had finished my short degree already, but still in my custodian job, they company I am working freeze all the hiring, while my student loan is killing me.

Commenter: mr. Ron Sease, MAT
With the amount of taxes we pay for everything, health care and higher education ought to be free. These loan sharks who exact large interest rates on school loans need to be run out of business. This is not freedom when students are conned into these long exspenive loans.

I took out loans for my Master's in 1994 and without all of the acrewed interest added, it could be paid off by now. But no, I only have it half paid off and it is only 2009.

Most Sincerely

Mr. Ron Sease, MAT

Commenter: Rikki
Its so sad that it costs so much money just to start a career these days.

What I am hearing from the "personal responsibility" crowd is that people should only pursue careers they can afford. Seriously, that is a horrid Catch-22, considering that most high-school grads are not commanding 6 figures right at graduation.

For the "financial literacy" crowd; yes, its better to pay cash for everything, instead of accumulated interest. Most high-school grads dont have a spare $30K lying around from working at the burger shack over the summer. I agree that loans are a horrid, horrid solution to this problem. Do you have an answer other than "don't go?" or "find a scholarship?" Not everyone is a star athlete.

I think rather than scream at students and graduates for trying to be successful, trying to participate and contribute to society, we should be asking business to cover the tab through a "higher-education" tax. Business ultimately benefits from an educated workforce, and since they demand increasing amounts of education and refuse to raise salaries to cover the expense, they should just be taxed.

Commenter: Laura
The biggest regret I have in my life is choosing higher education in the United States. My sisters both went up to Canada for their college educations and both are a thousand times better off than me. I chose to study chemistry and then environmental science at the graduate level. I have spent over $150K on my education and I have YET to earn that amount back! All of my money goes toward student loan payments or medical bills (I have generated just as much in medical debt). I am STILL living like a fact I was richer then. I have fallen through the capitalist cracks. They say the biggest enemies of any nation are always created from within. America is generating millions of resentful Americans with this impossible educational expense and even more impossible medical expense. And if you are single, you are really screwed.

The US can keep my social security benefits if they just delete my student loans. I am happy to leave the US too...there has to be a nation on this earth who wants me and would appreciate what I have to offer. I know my country does not.

Commenter: Mr. Ron Sease, MAT
Our educational system, in this country, lets us down because we are not taught the things that are going to assure our future success. We lack the saavy when a loan company comes with check book in hand. It just isn't kids fresh out of high school that is fed the lie but us olders that are trying to make our lives better. So what do we do, the same thing, running ourselves into decades of debt, with the promise that a Master's Degree will set us up for life.

Now that we are into another planned depression I have watched my loan company go from a small office building to having a brand new building built. They make so much money that I concidered for awhile that I was in the wrong business. Education didn't pay off for me in New York and it sure isn't paying off for me in New Mexico. Between Universities and Loan Companies, students become economic slaves to them both. Now, if I were to develop a business the way these sharks do business I would be behind bars.

The hype that gov't, labor, and loan companies advertise to the American people becomes the lie when every fascet of our economy can be manipulated into making us think that higher education will get us a bigger paycheck. We are purposely kept ignorant so we will pay and pay and pay! We are not taught about money. We are robbed all the day long and on top of that we are robbed of our prosparity by paying heavy, oppressive taxes when we do go to work. This is what higher education promises us. When we can finally figure it out of what is going on, then the system turns on us and has a way of calling us liars and discredits us becuse we now have opened eyes. They just want us to go back to sleep. We are all feeding the Beast and when we refuse to, the Beast turns on us. There is no radical fix for schools because it is the same old script just different players.It works every time.

I took out loans because there was no other way, at the time, to get that Master's Degree. After graduation I was an Industrial Arts teacher for 12 yrs. In someones near sightedness, the district and schools have been eliminating Industrial Arts calling it a dinosaur. After all, isn't the plan to develop the Orwellian world (NWO) and have all these kids behind computers at minimum wage. Here we loose our future tradesmen. What happened to No Child Left Behind? The fact is, it is the teachers get left behind forcing us into retirement. Retirement is even a bigger joke. Now we are ranked below the poverty rate but we are still FORCED to pay on those student loans regardless. It's like paying on a morgage the rest of your life. Our debt grows bigger gov't.

Social Security is another joke because they keep raising the retirement age. No, we have never been educated right and this is why we loose our character, our jobs, and our money. Who are the winners, The Banksters. And the news media keep it all hush hush, since 1913.

Commenter: Bernadette Frawley
In the 1990's, as a mother of three, I borrowed around $35,000 to get a degree in Economics. After a divorce and relocation and struggling, I was able through the years, to pay back approximately $10,000 of it. In 2001, I consolidated again and all of a sudden my balance of (then) $47,000 became $100,000! When I tried to get answers no one could help me and was told I would have to produce the original loan documents. By this time my loans had been sold so many times who knew their path. I am now up to almost $200,000 in debt, receive 3-4 phone calls a day and have been unemployed for over a year. They called and harassed my last employer...I'm afraid to get a job! Two of my children have just graduated from college and they kept student loan borrowing to a minimum (of course, I was not able to borrow for them). I am 48. I will NEVER pay this off and I don't think I owe this much but the collection agency won't listen! Help! I do volunteer work in my community. I've dreamed of joining the Peace Corp but now I think this will prevent me from doing so.

Commenter: Sue Hulme-Lowe
My new daughter-in-law brought $94,000 in student debt to her marriage to my son. It appears that nobody ever gave her any advice about getting into hock this way - not in high school, or college, or even her parents. My investigation of her situation has revealed that Student Loans were exempted from the Truth in Lending Laws of the 1960s and that lenders can charge outrageous rates and fees whilst telling borrowers little or nothing about their loans. In some cases, borrowers are required to sign the promissory note BEFORE the lender tells them what the interest rate will be. Colleges are complicit in this immoral defrauding of our students because they receive paybacks from the banks. Sallie Mae - the largest lender, once a government entity - is now outsourced to India. This truly enormous business will inevitably become "the other shoe" yet to drop on our failing economy as graduates are unable to find work in the ever-tighter job market and have to default on their loans. Our high schools do a grave disservice to our young people by continuing to actively encourage them to embark on a degree course which may get them nothing more than terrifying debt. As student debt cannot be forgiven in bankruptcy, they will be able to look forward to struggling with this burden for the rest of their lives - and perhaps even to passing it on to their heirs.

Commenter: Sandra Weaver
In 1990 I was a single mother of a 6 yr old and I graduated with an Associates Degree. This degree did help me several positions that required an Associates Degree. However, by 2009 I have added another $5,000 in Interest and haven't reached payments on the principal balance yet-mostly due to forbearance. Due to the economy and location, I am now making less wage and paying more for living expenses than I did soon after Graduating. The only option that I see is to go back to school and finish my Bachelor's degree in the hopes of making a wage that I can survive on. I'm about to incur another $22,000 to finish my degree-I don't see my loans being paid any time soon. I just hope that I can gain another few dollars an hour with a Bachelor's degree in order to make it financially from week to week.

Commenter: Withheld
Did you know these loans are considered a charity loan--to improve your life, but they are prosecuted as if they are a full blown business loan.

Now, why didn't my loan company or financial aid office tell me this? I don't understand that? I guess they were looking to take advantage of me. Is what it seems to me. This information should have been reveled to me in the beginning. I just don't understand why it wasn't. I would have made other decisions and not let someone take advatage of me.

Commenter: Living in the streets soon
Just wanted to comment that to the "Republican"

YES students are the victims of the big bad banks AND the colleges looking to collect on people who don't' know anything about the future of these loans. Did you know all this information when you signed up for them? Lucky you!

Let me ask you "Republican" where you completely aware that you will be hunted down your entire life if you wear out all your forbearance's and income sensitive payments? What would you do? Live on the streets? Is that the right thing to do then? I'm thinking you must have the job for me, let me know I'm trying everything I can to do the right thing, but there seems to be no options.

What would you do if you lost your high paying job and collection companies were calling you? Ask your republican self that!! I guess the republicans think we just may need to be put in prison--do you think? Hey then I get a roof over my head and some meals every day.

Anyways, since you have the answers lets hear them. Answer this--no job, hard to find a job, no forbearance's or income sensitive payments left. Do I live on the street now and become a criminal? Let me know, I'm digging for answers and you seem to have them.

Maybe you could rehabilitate me so I could live like a republican--maybe that is the answer. Okay I will await your insightful response.

Commenter: Kristi Nelson
This is a big problem! I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have made an entire different decision.

No one told me then that they can garnish your wages, take away social security and put liens on anything you own and hunt you down forever making sure your life is oppressed! I wonder why that was not told to me when I signed up for college loans??

Yes I signed on the dotted line, but I feel there should have been more education on these loans. All my college was thinking about was the money they will make off of me. Shame on them for not telling me ANYTHING!! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! I feel they should be partly responsible for not reveling these things to be.

I have an art degree, actually a full bachelors degree, and have emailed my college and posted on their website about having an art show regarding "How student loan affects one's life." Have I heard back? No way! I feel a bit like I was taken advantage off and I shouldn't be responsible for the total amount of these loans. Why will they not even respond to me???!! It really makes me mad that they took advantage of me. VERY MAD!!! They stole my life away from me!!!

There needs to be in place more education before taking out these loans, before a $1 is given out. When one goes through bankruptcy there is all kinds of classes that are required.

Why when one takes out a $100,000 student loan not one minute is spent on educating you on the outcome of this, but yet you are punished as much as a murderer!! I don't' understand. I am a citizen of this country but yet refugees are treated better!

Lately my total commission sales jobs to businesses has taken a nose dive because of the economy. I have used all my forbearance's and everything I can do to forgo the monthly loans and give me time to get my financial life and job situation more secure--but the loan company does not care--actually that would be our government.

Now because of the very unreliable income I have, I can't afford the monthly payments. When I call my loan company to talk to them about it, all they say is wait until the collection company calls you. By the way, these are private collection companies cashing in on government loans.

I ask them if I can talk to the collection company now. They say they have no idea who it will go to. I have to sit and wait for the outcome of my entire life and wait until the collection company calls.

I am now about 50 days to collections. I have an appointment with, I think, the only bankruptcy attorney in the State of Minnesota who has actually done a undue hardship case for Chapter 13 in two weeks.

I have no idea what my specific case will bring. Most attorneys tell you it can't be done. The only cases that are forgiven is if you are in an iron lung or incapacitated. I don't understand why other circumstances can't be taken a look at. I guess I will find out in two weeks when I talk to the attorney if she will take my case.

If she won't take my case, I will be looking at a life time of garnished wages, no opportunity to own anything and no social security when I get old. I wonder where I will live with no credit.

Basically I am looked at as a murderer or traitor who also has no statute of limitations on their crime. I can't seem to find any financial adviser either that can advise one for their future with this problem. Maybe I should just be put in prison right now. At least I know I will have a roof over my head and several meals a day--right now that is a mystery.

I guess the government wants you to be a criminal if you try to educate yourself--didn't that happen in medieval times?

Hey, I guess they have art programs in prison! That is my degree, I am too stressed out trying to make money to think about making any art right now, maybe that is what the government wants me to do as my option, or should I try to incapacitate myself?? Doesn't seem like there are too many options at all.

I feel a bit taken advantage of but yet I feel I want to try to make these payments or some of them. I wish they could give me a grace period of 6-12 months, but there is nothing left for me. I don't know what to do. There is no hope for people like me. It is very sad. I feel my life is very oppressed and there is nothing to look forward to for my future. Depression overwhelms me as life is never any fun. I made the biggest mistake of my life that now I have to pay for forever. It is so hard!

I made the biggest mistake of my life. I wish I would have bought a house, owned a bank, or a car dealership--at least there is some way out for them. There is no way out for me but an oppressed hard life.

The way the laws are set up is that I am a very bad person..lower than low. Why don't' they just line us up and shoot us. Life is no fun anyways!

Commenter: J.
I worked for the state for 14 yrs. upon getting layed off I was unemployed, collecting benifits
and desperate!!!! I enrolled into a program section 8 at unemployment. At the time a list of schools were provided and I was automatically accepted for the loan due to my lay-off guidelines not the income recieved from unemployment after expenses.(predatory lending) I went to an automotive tech school in good faith took my classes and recieved a perfect 4.0, 100 percent and 5 points for perfect attendance, graduating with a 105% gpa. Unheard of. At any case they hold exams for ASE automotive service excellence which is a national certification for qualified mechanics,at the end of classes they give exams,administered by the teachers in the school, they gave out the previous answer sheets from the students before us,(sealed tests which had to be opened by test taker) which i copyed and sent to A.S.E. for verification and dating,they said in fact these was there test from previous grads,but could do nothing due to time lags. (how many mechanics were doing brake jobs and were pre-prepped to heat enployment levels for future open house event statistics?
I went to school, worked hard, had to pay most of my unemployment toward the loan for a fraud school which was on the states list of acceptable schools under the sec. 8 program of state unemployment benifits for retraining.And then after being driven into poverty by this program of deceptive lending
could not get out of it,even after going to court and suffering from asthma and living in garages,
and vacant buildings in cold weather.

I was never employed in this field for longer than a month. Its easy to say pay, but when you are not a trust fund baby or ivy league type that gets help from your parents (primarily not to get one of these loans in the first place) when over your head by deceptive practices and courts that see no humane side of you when help is needed, it becomes as bad to your lifestyle as a bad drug or alcohol addition or any practice that is self destructive such as this type of loan.Sort of like the credit crisis,they had better percentages payed out to investers for you to loose intentionally. sound familiar????

Commenter: Maria Gunji
Additionally, my high school was a private all girls college prep, and every way I turned someone was saying, "it doesn't matter how much the tuition is, just reach for the best schools." This should have sounded more like, "Be sane, don't saddle yourself with huge loans for your undergraduate degree, money is part of the decision making process." Instead we were told to ignore the cost.

Commenter: sick, sick, and more sick, we need help!
...we married in 1975, 17

Commenter: thang pham
i owe $276K in student loans.

All from graduate school at New York University.
I have no job and no way to pay these back as I never finished the program I was in. This was only for 2.5 years of school too. I failed a class and was dismissed from the college. I never got any degree from that and I only have a BS in Biology. Anyone hiring? My Biology degree is with honors and I finished it in just 3.5 years.

It's very depressing to say the least. I now attend community college in order to defer my payments because of in school deferment. I have no other option bc I cannot afford over $2000 a month in payments.

Half of my loans are with Citibank, the rest are Federal loans. Unless I win the lotto one day, I don't ever anticipate ever being able to pay these back. I am very financially responsible aside from this student loan debt, I owe zero on credit cards or any other form of debt. The loans I took are the same that everyone else in my class had- except for my old roomate who's father wrote a check for his tuition and rent each month.

Commenter: Maria Gunji
In a nut shell, $140,000 on the whole, dropped out several times as to not incur more loans only to return to finish a degree because unable to pay loans and rent etc with low paying jobs, felt like I was paying for drug addicted-full scholarship student to have the time of their life while I would be paying three times the worth of my experience by the time I have it all payed off. Started on a professional degree which was impossible to finish while working 40 hours a week and going to school full time, AND finally finished with a B.A. Art degree which I did not even want except that I needed to finish as early as possible as to not incur more loans. I was malled down by another student/domestic violence on campus one semester and lost the use of my left arm, which made it very hard to build architectural models, also was harassed by fellow classmate/s on mor than one occassion b/c of competition I'm sure of it. One guy used the race card, another accused me of drug use, eventually I got a tatto accross my forhead. Also, Sallie Mae charged my student loans at 15% during my last semester, when I was informed that the less expensive public university to which I transfered to finish my degree would still require that I finish a bunch of freshman level classes = tacking on more student loans. Sallie Mae claimed it was because my credit record was bad, and I had no choice but to take that interest rate so I could finish school. By the time I discovered that it was the mistake of the credit reporting bureau, I sent a letter requesting a retroactive interest rate reduction, to which they hastily ignored. Also, I was accepted at the University of Hawaii Manoa for an Architecture Doctorate, When I arrived over the summer to take a few classes in preperation to start in the Fall, my loan was lost, and finally I got a letter of apology from the finacial aid office that they had mistakenly forgotten to certify my loan, but buy that time I had already used all my saving to move there and get a rental, transportation, etc, and then left when no money came through from the lender and I would have had to wait a whole extra month for another loan. I think the reason they "forgot" to certify my loan was because I did not use their recommended lender, I used the lender they recommended when I calle din March to find out who I should borrow from, and apparently that had changed by the time I got there, and so I think they "prefered" not to certify it. Better that was anyway, 'cause if I had gone their I probably wouldn't have finished b/c of too high loan amounts. Several times when I've made a payment by check to Sallie Mae, they have failed to show the payment on my account and then I have to fax a copy of my bank statement and the cancelled check. Usually they can't find the fax either so I have to fax it twice. In soem ways it has been a big mistake to go to college, and I used to spend most of my free time on the phone with lenders, waiting on hold, for someone to tell me when payments will restart or wht the payments will be, or changing my address for the 25th time because I constantly had to rent from unstable roomates who were offerign the cheapest share I could find..... it goes on and on and on.

Commenter: Dan
This is Racketeering. I'm in a similar situation as you Deborah. $30,000 for an associates degree in photography from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. My parents co-signed. I have no steady income or health insurance. I need capital investment to succeed, but I'm insolvent and there are very few jobs.

The schools are absolutely in on it. We should not stand for this. Everyone is worried about investing in the stock market while the money should be flowing to the people who really need it.

Commenter: Larry
My student loan nightmare is that I have a student loan at all. For me it is affordable and at a very low interest rate but the real problem is that I cannot find a job in my field. The real nightmare is the fact that you can go to college and get a 4 year degree but still not be able to find a good paying job in your field. I graduated with a computer science degree and have applied to over 1000 places with very few interviews. The interviews that I was able to get told me I did not have enough experience for the positions they had open. I think the real nightmare is the fact that the entry level jobs for those with a college degree have been shipped overseas. The manufacturing jobs for people without a college education have also been shipped overseas. It seems to me that for anyone just starting out in America today is screwed. There is no job security, no entry level jobs for those who went to college or for people who go back to school to get retrained because of a loss of a job, and if you do finally get a job in your field the starting salaries are so low that you cannot possibly pay all your bills and be able to save for a rainy day let alone retirement. Going to college was the single worst thing I could have spent my money on in the America of today. America is a lost cause and I have no faith in the government to actually do the right thing.

Commenter: Ryan Feeback
I went to 4 yrs of private college, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, and 2 more years of private grad school at an Ivy League University to receive my Masters of Science in Social Work. I do not come from a family that could afford to contribute to my post graduate education, and could only somewhat contribute to my undergrad education. I still worked all through the school years and spent my summers working in factories.

I graduated with my Masters and $90,000 worth of student loan debt, $73,000 of which was attributable to two years of a graduate Ivy League education to become a social worker. I was forced to consolidate my Federal Stafford, etc loans due to inability to make basic payments, thus locking myself in to 30 yrs worth of payments for 2 yrs of education. I'm doing my best to pay down the private student loans I had to take out without consolidating, but I currently pay about $600/mnth JUST in student loans, and I'm making MINIMUM payments on the consolidated loans.

I'm finding myself having to change my entire plans for life, putting off having children, unable to invest in retirement, and still fortunate to have a steady job with decent benefits. I firmly believe that my generation (I'm 26 yrs old) has been sold out by the baby boomers to subsidize the college administration and faculties that they've bloated since the 60's.

Commenter: Janet Turner
I finished my degree in October. I still have the same carreer as before degree was completed and no extra money. Now i have over 400 in loan payments due each month and I have been looking for a new job with better pay but no luck yet. The loan companies are not that easy to talk to about payment plans because your window is only open just before payment is due and when that window is open they make it hard to get in touch with them.

Commenter: Denise B, MS
I've got a particularly evil type of student loan called "Tuition Answer." It piles on interest first in the early years, meaning I'm paying $400/mth and watching my balance go up each month--all while I'm in grad school for the next 4 years. Worse: it's not considered a student loan for my tax purposes, so I do not get to claim the interest payments I'm making. Worse: Sallie Mae gets protection as if the loan is a student loan if I default, meaning it will not be wiped from my credit if I needed to declare bankruptcy.

Commenter: Deborah James
In 1998 I took out loans for the Art Institute of Seattle. I thought learning multimedia would give me edge on an internet income. Wrong. I remain looking for any kind of work this older woman can get and since 2000 I remain incognito so as not to be hounded by phone calls or lawsuit. I must first find a steady income from which I can budget-out payments and until then I am, for all purposes, in hiding. Deborah is not my real name.

Commenter: Republican
Shame on you PBS! I have to laugh at this name of this topic - it assumes that students are "victims" of the big, bad banks. Every student has a choice. When you sign the prom note you PROMISE to pay - and to read your responsibilities. Wake up America -don't borrow more than you can pay back - and stop going for double undergraduate degrees and/or majoring in Art History.

Commenter: George
To Chas: "drowning here" was written by my wife

Commenter: stacey
It just seems there has to be a better way. I struggled to in my first years of school becuase my parents were not paying taxes. I wasn't married, with child, or in the army so I didn't qualify without them. I worked my way through a jr college and then took loans for a state university and then paid back my nearly $10k with interest. Then I took out another $40 for grad school and I'm paying on that now... but it has been a nightmare with no places willing to consolidate or refinance and only ONE chance to do so... I have re-fied my home 3 times since I have owned it - why can't I do the same to get the best rates with student loans... better yet why not keep the rates low all the time so we all have a fighting chance. I intend to pay off my loans - every penny. The sad reality is that my daughter will likly be through college herslef when I do this.... at least I'll have some pointers for her :)

Commenter: Response to Take some responsibility
First, let me say that it is great if, at 18 years old, you were financially savvy and financially responsible. Most 18 year olds are not. Actually, scientifically, it is a fact that your brain is not even fully formed yet and specifically, the area of the brain that allows you to make responsible decisions is not finished growing stands to reason that many 18 year olds would not be able to make a responsible decision when it comes to something as major as signing for a loan. Additionally, as investigated by the New York State Attorney General, lenders and schools have for many years been in bed together, so to speak, to the detriment of borrowers so........I think it is reasonable to think that borrowers need some assistance and some understanding. To top all of this off, student loans are void of consumer protections. Your mortgage has consumer protections, your car loan has consumer protections, your personal loan has consumer protections but.....not a student loan. You can go bankrupt on your mortgage, on your car loan, on your personal loan and on your credit cards but, you cannot go bankrupt on your student loans therefore, it is a whole different type of debt that is in the same category as 2 other debts: taxes and child support. These 3 debts are the only ones you cannot go bankrupt on, that your wages can be garnished and your tax returns can be taken, etc. There is no way out for many borrowers who are saddled with usury loans that were made with an immature mind. Sorry, those are the facts and again, kudos to anyone who did not get burned/caught up in this but it doesn't change the reality for many borrowers and it is a sad reality.

Commenter: George
To Chas: "drowning here" was written by my wife

Commenter: Take some responsibility
This is the same story that gets twisted time and time again. Federal loans are different than private loans. Federal loans allow you to postpone payments if you're having a hard time, and many lenders will work with you to make payments affordable. My lender sent me an e-mail recently to let me know if I am having trouble making ends meet, they can help me postpone some or all of my payments.

Like Chas said, be a smart consumer. I chose to go to an inexpensive school in my home state and received resident tuition rates. I worked 25 hours per week while taking 12-15 credits per semester to help pay the bills. As a result, I left school with a little over $12,000 in student loan debt. Even if I had not found my current job, I would still be able to make my $157 monthly payment if I was working at McDonald's.

If you choose to attend an expensive school and take out massive amounts of debt, you are responsible to pay the money back. People who are irresponsible borrowers and take out more loans than they need are no better than subprime mortgage borrowers who took out ARMs they really couldn't afford.

Take some responsibility for your actions. Borrower wisely and read the fine print before signing on the dotted line. Read the 6 page MPN you signed - It states you are responsible to pay the money back even if you don't like the education you receive or if you are unable to find a job after graduation. If you can't agree to those terms, don't sign the form.

Parents, teach your children basic financial literacy skills so they don't get into trouble.

Here's a free financial literacy lesson for everyone: If you don't pay accrued interest on any type of loan, that unpaid interest will be capitalized. That means it is added to your balance so you'll be paying interest on interest. That goes for any loan - car, mortgage, student, etc. Even if you can't make a full payment, pay your interest on all your loans.

Commenter: Chas
I don't mean to be disrespectful, but the two posted comments below show how and why the vast majority of student borrowers who are in over their heads with student loans find themselves in that situation. A college education is a major purchase. Be a smart consumer! Why borrow $100,000 for a degree in English?!?! How will that investment ever pay off? Why enter into a doctorate program witout researching the financing first, and why drop out with no degree after borrowing over $150,000? These stories may be nightmares, but they are nightmares of the individuals' own making. Don't blame the lender for giving you the money you requested.

Commenter: drowning here
We are parents of a student loan holder that owes about $100,000 in loans, almost all private. We are paying for the loans as he is unable to eat and pay for the loans. He has an entry level job and does not make a lot of money and lives in an expensive area (took a long time to even get this job). We were struggling before the loans and now we are at the point of probably having to go bankrupt and sell/lose our home. We are in our mid fifties and one of us cannot find a job. We are in dire straits however, we are not eligible for any programs. We are the forgotten who carries most of the burden. I never thought I would be this age, not healthy and potentially not having anywhere to live but still having all the debts. This is a result of private student lenders gouging, Congress giving their blessing, and colleges steering our young to bad loans. I wish there was some help for people like us.

Commenter: Grant
$160,000 debt just from law school. Then graduated into the worst economy since the Great Depression. Interest now makes it... $180,000.

Commenter: Cindy Jennings-Bass
I graduated from high school in 1972, had 4 kids, and then started college in 1996. I received a BA with honors in 2002 and have been teaching in very high need 'urban schools' ever since. I have five teaching credentials including Special Ed., all levels, and three 'Regular' Ed. secondary credentials for Life Science, English, and Health. Now I am in graduate school. I was recently informed that I do NOT qualify for the teacher loan forgiveness program because of one small($833)loan I had to get in the spring of 1997(my ONLY transportation blew a head gasket)By the time I finish grad school I will probably owe well over $50 thousand dollars. I will be 55 years old next week. I wonder how long I will have to work to pay this off?

Commenter: Aimee Phillips
Please do a special on this, and interview Alan Collinge, of, author and activist, along with Elizabeth Warren, the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Jesse Jackson (Sr.) and Ralph Nader are also speaking out about student loans.

Thank you,

Aimee Phillips

Commenter: Chase Wildstar
In 1984 I attended a 2 year trade school and took out 12k to attend. It turned out to be a useless education. Even congress admitted it in Senate report 102-58. When I got my loans standard consumer protections existed, but US Dept of Education oversight was non existant. This lead to high defualt rates during the later part of the 80's, which inturn lead to the forms of the early 90's; reforms which were just the first of many over the next few years.

Amongst other things, Standard consumer protections including bankruptcy options were removed. Government gave lenders more authority, and imposed a few regulations and requirements on the schools. Little if anything, was done to help the students with their financial problems.

In 1994 I had to file chapter 7 bankrupcy due to a bad devorce, and under employment history. I later learned that my original lender also filed bankruptcy 2 days after I did. I believed these loans to be taken care of, and was thankfull my country had given me a second chance at life.
Then in 2008, all of a sudden, I start getting bills for 80-90 thousand dollars for something I thought was taken care of. I was threatened with wage garnishment. I live in Michigan. Since 2000, I have worked a total of 5 out of the last 9 years. I have had 5, 7, and 11 month periods of unemployment. Michigans economy is the worse. I did not run up credit cards, I lived cash only. I am broke today, out of work yet again, but I owe no one anything other than these supposed student loans. In Feb 2008, I got laid off just weeks befor what I call an unlawful non judicial wage garnishment. I was out of work till september, when I took a job out of state. That lasted untill the middle of May 2009, now I am back home in Michigan, looking for work again and worried that I will be hunted down yet again.

That may not seem as bad as some folks think it is, but when your original bill is 12k and they turn it into 80k, the monthly payment is about 2/3rds what most people take home in michigans downturning economy. A wage garnishment means you have to quit your job and find another one, because with it, you cannot pay your rent and you end up homeless, and thus jobless anyways. THAT is the worry most of us deal with every day, and its devistating.

The system will not treat us fairly, and think they can take what they want from us; and due to congress's changes to the laws, they can! And that is what is destroying so many of the students lives. That is why many are leaving the country or get so depressed they commit suicide.

We need student loan reform NOW. Help the students, not the rich fat cats that are raking in millions off of collection fees and outragous interest and penalty fees.

Commenter: Gabriela N
I used OSAP to earn my undergraduate degree in Medical Genetics. It was my only option, since I was a single mom. Year after year during my graduate school I had to submit documents that I am still a student. The only problem was that there was no receipt given, no copy to prove that one has submitted the documents. They were simply signed and handed in to the office at UofT. One year the office lost my documents and the only way I found out was when Royal Bank went into my account and took out over $400.00. Living dollar to dollar, this was my monthly budget. I called, re-submitted documents, had them backdated, did all I could. The Royal Bank employee I spoke to assured me that at least a portion of the funds will be returned, less some "interest?". He said he filled in the paperwork and that it is being processed right away. Not a dollar was ever returned and when I called to find out what the status is, they told me they do not have a record of me ever calling or speaking to anyone and that I will never receive any of the money.
The same thing has happened to a number of my friends.
OSAP is a bad idea at the best of times, it makes disadvantaged students even worse off after they graduate. It pretty much eliminates any hope for a house. How would one get a mortgage when they have a 60K loan to pay off? Now my daughter is entering university and I am still paying OSAP, these loans not only impact the generation that got them, but also the next generation. Not only their living standards, but also their chances to go to university and to ever overcome the disadvantages that their parents faced, which now are being perpetuated to them, courtesy of OSAP. If even half of the loan was a grant or if the repayment was interest free, this would not have been such a burden. With the government squandering millions in unsupervised grants and hand-outs, writing the checks to OSAP leaves resentment.

Commenter: Linda Johnson
My husband does not speak much english and he thought a loan meant free money so he took out a loan from dickinson state U who takes anyone that has money and took out 5000 dollars and promptly spent it on books, toys, and I ended up having to pay the money back. I had no idea he had done this because such loans are confidential.

Commenter: no names please
I started college at 31 and had been on a cash economy all my life. In 2008 I dropped out of my PhD program when their money ran out and I had exceeded all the limits on loans (since they were all changed during the Bush years). Now I work at a museum part-time netting about 10,000 a year, can barely pay my mortgage, and have 150,000 in debt in forebearance not counting the interest to finance it for 30 years. I already paid back a couple of my little loans when I was still in school but I figured if I finished my Doctorate I would have a chance of getting an income that would balance out the debt but there are very little opportunities at this time with all the cuts to the economy. I wrote to Obama and asked him to eliminate all the interest on Gov. subsidized and unsubsidized loans to give people like me a fighting chance to pay it back, plus the bank will make plenty of money already without that extra burden. I never heard back from him yet but I may write him again about it.

Commenter: Jeanine
I'm an English major about to be in my senior year at Pace University. Since my freshman year I have gotten roughly a 50% scholarship/financial aid package from Pace and a minimal amount of federal aid. But even with scholarships and grants, I still wind up taking out around $21,000 a year in private student loans from Sallie Mae. By the time I graduate in June of 2010, I'll be over $100,000 in debt between private loans, government Stafford loans, and interest. Not exactly conducive for an entry level job applicant during a recession! I really want to go to grad school, but with all of my undergrad debt I don't even see how that's possible for a long time.

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