About the Introduce yourself category

This is a place for newcomers to say hello, and for the rest of us to serve as a welcoming committee. Tell us a little bit about yourself, share your debt story, ask your questions, and get plugged in.

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Hello! My name is Alex Bennett and I am a graphic designer and artist working in the Seattle area. I have a BFA in studio art and an MFA in digital art. Unfortunately, my debt for these 2 degrees is 100k+ and growing. If I were to go back into regular repayment, I’d be expected to pay upwards of a grand a month even on an IDR plan. I just finished grad school in 2017 and had about 2 years worth of contract work then COVID hit. I’m currently mostly unemployed, and working minimal part time as a public school visiting artist. I haven’t landed full time work since I left school and have no way of meeting my expected payments. I recently listened to a Haymarket Books talk with Astra Taylor and decided I wanted to join this community. Happy to be here and join the debt fight.

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Hi there @jadefalcon3 I am in the Seattle area too. Nice to meet you. My name is @Dawn_L and I am a Striker. glad you are here. Do you want to have a call to meet and talk about the student debt campaign a bit?

Hello! My name is Arlene, I’m in the DC area. I heard about the Debt Collective from a panel or talk hosted by Haymarket! My boyfriend saw it first and he sent it to me; blew my mind. We bought the book and I’m reading through it now. I have student and credit card debt. I believe I have close to $60,000 in student debt from getting my Bachelor’s degree. Some of it is federal, some private. Very excited to join the union and help folks get out of the bind of debt.

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Wall Street is making money off student loans & controlling debtors by having a grip on credit scores. Do not wait for politicians to solve this problem. Trump in 2016 promised to fix it and didn’t. Do not expect more from Biden.
An organized and announced mass strike will cause Wall Street to react. When Wall Street reacts, government reacts. If Trump & GOP were wise they would steal the thunder from Biden that could reverberate down the campaign trail for 50 years. There are 40 million of you with $1.7 trillion in debt. Trump said when you owe $1 million & can’t pay you are in trouble. When you owe $1 billion and can’t pay the bank is in trouble. You owe $1.7 trillion and won’t pay & the whole banking system is in trouble.
Force their hand NOW!! If Trump forgives student loans the GOP will have future leverage. To get back those who may be influenced by that, the Democrats will have to make higher education tuition free. The power of student loans is that Wall Street has become dependent on them. Strike and Wall Street will begin to crash. Wall Street crashing will get Congress to bail them out. Part of that bail out will be to pay off student loans. That money goes to banks but will be insufficient because your loans have been bundled, hypothecated and rehypothecated so the value has been multiplied. $1.7 trillion will not be sufficient so Wall Street will be bailed AGAIN, but at least you will be relieved of your shackles.
I am of the generation that had tuition free higher education back in the 60s when the US was richer (sarcasm). My daughters, both 50+ each still owe $10,000+. I am horrified!!
Have an announced strike now so you can go into the New Year without your heavy burden. If my daughters spend 10 hours each recruiting strikers and each of those recruits gets more strikers enough to provoke debt cancelation, they would have earned $1,000 for each of those 10 hours. You have the opportunity to do something significant that no generation since the 60s/70s has had and you don’t need to hit the streets just stop paying and let all know about it.

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Hi, Arlene, my name is Travis (though, everyone knows me as Pietro), and I live the DC metro area. Montgomery Co to be exact. I, too, have about that much debt and between federal and private loans. Glad to see another DC area person joining and would be up to connect with you about debt striking. Let me know!! :slight_smile:

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My name is Ella (she/they). I am 22, living in Berkeley, California. Soon to move to Hawaii for six months. Having a LOT of shame come up around graduating in the next year with likely 200K (and growing, with interest) in loans. When I was 18, all I wanted to do was go to my dream school… chasing the most prestigious and most expensive school that I got into to feel like I was worth something. I was so young… I had NO conversations in my family about the reality of the amount of debt I was about to take on, because secrecy and denial felt easier in my family than honesty. Debt keeps people in the system, working for the man. It keeps them scared and isolated and their head down. I don’t want the decisions we made as vulnerable teenagers to determine the kind of life we live, taking the first job out of college just to survive and pay off debt as fast as you can. Debt is a slow, mental prison that slowly erodes you from the inside out. It erases the possibility for risk-taking, for following your dreams, for making mistakes and learning from them. It punishes the 99.9% and makes us feel like we’re the problem when the SYSTEM is the f*cking problem. I want better for me and better for us. And I truly believe in people power.

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Hello, my name is Caroline Havens and I am a Marketing Director and graphic designer working in Jacksonville, FL. My college journey was a rough one that had me attending 3 different colleges and took 6 years just to get my bachelors. I am crushed by the weight of my 100+k in federal and private student loan debt.

Since graduating in December of 2016, my loans have been in and out of forbearance or on smaller payment plans while the interest just accrues. Particularly with my private student loans, I don’t see myself ever being able to make the full payment they want from me (almost $600 even after refinancing with my dad as the cosigner). Additionally, since they are private loans, they are ineligible for the COVID non-payment and no-interest program that has been running. I had to go into forbearance again (so interest is continuing to accrue) and that was only eligible for 3 months. Then go on a reduced payment plan that is also only eligible for 3 months. This program expires at the end of November, so I genuinely have no idea what is waiting for me when in December when I try to make a payment.

I am afraid of just defaulting and ceasing payments as that will affect my dad who cosigned on my loan. I work two jobs and also support my husband who cannot work due to mental illness (which he is unable to get disability for). I am 27 and am unable to be completely financially independent from my parents.

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Hi! I’m Kevin from Providence, RI. I’m a research analyst in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at the Community College of Rhode Island. I’m also a graduate from UMass, Amherst, with a BA in math and I’m working on an MPA at URI. I would love to get involved with a RI chapter if there is one and if not, I’d be happy to start one.

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Good Morning, My name is Joshua Caldwell, and currently my status is considered permanently disabled. Furthermore, my situation with student loans have defaulted due to a few circumstances. When first approved for disability, the knowledge of debt forgiveness was found through hours of research on the topic. I had begun the process, in 2017, and thought that it was completed. Without further knowledge or correspondence on the issue, and assuming that it was taken care of, I had ignored. In the fall of 2017, a relationship that went for a little over 9 years, was at its end, and relocation of residential status was required. So if anything had been sent to me, I was unaware of my mail that was long forgotten. In the spring of 2020, I had started working with the office of vocational rehabilitation to return to an educational facility, in order to provide for myself and family, with much greater means of success. Without a degree, or proper training, and with current factors that remain unfavorable with an employer, this appeared to be the correct approach. I had undergone most of their testing, and was making strides to obtain a degree in a field much more suitable to my strengths. Then our current pandemic struck, leaving me to take care of the house and family while my partner (who is a nurse) worked her butt off. Shortly after, we learned of her brain aneurysm, which meant my personal life was once more set aside. Around July of this year, I had received a letter stating that I had a balance on my federal student loans that had gone into default, and garnishments were to take place if a payment wasn’t made. At the time, life had become so hectic that it was placed on hold. Luckily, the aneurysm was taken care of (though she is still in recovery, however back to work), and two days a week were back open for me to pursue my goals once more. I had started the process once more to gain knowledge and accreditation in a field, when a road block was hit. I had forgotten of the default, and was unable to receive any financial aid. Furthermore, with the debt affecting my credit, and with a small income, I was unable to obtain any loans. I had called the department where I filed for disability forgiveness, and found out that I had never finished the paperwork that was sent in the mail. Also, I still qualify, yet would be unable to obtain any financial aid for the next 3 years. Then, I contacted the federal aid department, and their only option available was to have them send the paperwork, for myself to file out, and return, for them to make a decision on monthly payment options. After several months, I would be able to come out of default and once more have the ability to accept federal loans. However, I will be 35 this upcoming April, and feel like this is something needed sooner than later. I didn’t know where to turn, so I kept reading as much as possible until I found this community and thought I should ask for guidance here.

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Hi! My name is Joey Aszterbaum. I’m getting my Masters in Education and already owe over $80k. I’ve stepped back on my political organizing, but had to join DC. Just emailed my network to join. I’m so grateful this exists.

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Hi Joshua,

I’m glad to meet you and angry about your story. I can’t say I have any advice or guidance yet, being new to this. But I do know that none of this should happen to us (I had a similar story wrt medical debt) and I’m glad to meet you.

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Hi there,

Greetings from Florida. Nice to meet all of you and welcome.

Back story, I was suckered into a for-profit college when a I decided to go back to college in my 20s. I found a career I was wanting to pursue and didn’t realize there were predatory colleges. The fake college stole my pell grant money, money out of my pocket and took out loans without notifying me. Within 2 years, they stole 50k with half in FFEL loans (government backed loans but held by 3rd party banks).

As the school withdrew me for I know reason, I attempted to enroll at the community college only to find out no credits would transfer and I had to start over but without any financial help for grants and scholarships. I eventually graduate with my masters degree topping off 75k but it’s taken me 8 years to climb the ladder to obtain even a ok position to make a salary.

Looking forward to working with you all as we fight this injustice!

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