Get Started By Telling Your Student Debt Story


#1

To get started, let’s share our stories of going into debt to attend college. Your fellow debtors want to hear from you. You can even share an image that tells your story better than words, if you prefer.


#2

My name is Dan Hong, and I have $16,142.21 in federal student loans. $13,029.18 of federal Stafford loans (with $113.03 in interest as of November 2018) are managed under Great Lakes, a common student loan corporation, and $3,000 of federal Perkins loans (with no interest as of November 2018) are managed under the little-known University Accounting Services. Both of my loans are currently under forbearance because I’m participating in Americorps VISTA until August 2019, a federal volunteer service program (a domestic version of the Peace Corps) that allows me to forbear my loans.

I recognize that my student loan total of $16k is less than half of the $35k student debt average in the US., and I’m very privileged to have received enough financial support through scholarships, grants and my parents so that I didn’t have to work while I was in school. That said, by not working I got myself into $2.5k of credit card debt throughout my four years of school when I needed new clothes, books and supplies and my parents couldn’t or didn’t want to pay for it at certain points. Since graduating in 2017, I tacked on $2k more of credit card debt as I had to pay for unexpected expenses and needs while working and living independently, because the food service jobs I did before Americorps didn’t pay me enough to save.

In fact, at this point I don’t know what it’s like to have savings because I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck. If I had a surplus of income for a month it was always used up by the end of the next month, and I blame credit card debt as the major cause.


#3

Hello,
I currently have $64,000 in student loan debt, as well as $6,000 in credit card debt. I was able to receive some financial support in school, but obviously not nearly enough to cover tuition and day to day expenses.

My life has been shaped by debt. I have had mental disabilities for most of my life that eventually forced me to step back from my career in NYC as a professional dancer and choreographer. I have taken on the enormous task of managing of my disabilities, including going to therapy twice a week for three years. Every step of my healing and self-management has been hampered and exacerbated by the stress and limitation of my debt. Even the step to move away from my career was largely required because of the limitations that paying $700/month in debt payments put on me.

For me debt has been a prison. One I aim to escape from before I am old and I have lived an entire adult life in debt.


#4

Welcome Dan and Daniel.


#6

Hello, I’m Sarah. I have $44,000 of student debt along with $15,000 of credit card/loan debt.

I graduated undergraduate University with no debt thanks to financial aid and being able to stay with my parents, but I went back to graduate school at a private college that could accommodate my full time work schedule. I still think my degree was worth getting, but this huge chunk of debt makes me feel like I’ll never climb out of the hole.

The other debt was accrued as I tried to keep my head above water during some time when I was unemployed and lost my apartment, and had to move in with my in-laws.

I’ve learned not to feel shame about it any more (not too much anyway) because somebody in my shoes thirty years ago would be doing great financially, with job security and benefits and a high salary. But all I get is contract work that lasts for fifteen or sixteen months before they trim the fat to save some money and I’m laid off again.


#7

I’m Jae and I have 72K in student loan debt, about 36K in federal loans and about 36K in private loans. After finally using college and the support systems I developed there to get out from an abusive family, I had to pay my way through college largely on my own, with no cosigners or support. I had to fight to be considered an independent applicant for FAFSA and even then didn’t end up qualifying for any financial aid. Between tuition, books, and livings expenses, I’ve also racked up almost 10K in credit card debt, and an auto loan with even worse interest rates than my private student loans. Half of my expenses every month are just payments towards the various debts. I work in human services, and theoretically would be elligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years of consistent and consecutive payments, but that still leaves me in the lurch for now, and isn’t anything near a guarantee of support later either.
My partner and I both work almost 50 hours a week or more, and we’re both lucky if we break $40K a year with overtime, and that makes us way luckier than many folks we know, but it’s also exhausting and there’s never much of any room for savings or fun things.
I’m in graduate school now, because you can’t get much of anywhere in our field without it and because I genuinely love what I do and want to be able to do it better (and for higher pay), and I’ve been lucky enough to get support with that so that it won’t screw us over too much. But I’m worried about the long run, and what we’ll do if anything goes wrong with our plans to pay this stuff off.
Looking at the balances barely changing after two years of paying over $2000 every month towards it makes me feel helpless and scared, and as much as I keep working my butt off to figure out ways to make it by, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re not meant to be able to get out from under it on our own. It’s got to be different if there’s more people working together to end it, right?


#8

Hello, all. I’m Finn. Currently have 20,000+ in personal federal student loans, and my mother has more than 100k in Parent Plus loans that we used to survive off of while I was at college.

Most of the time I considered it impossible to pay off, even considered not paying at all since I couldn’t afford it. I deferred and consolidated it several times, or as much as possible. Now that I finally have a better paying job I make payments on my loans. Realistically, I have no idea when that Parent Plus stuff will go away.


#9

Hi all, when I graduated high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I honestly just wanted to get a steady job, but found that in Michigan in 2004 this was not so easy. My family is fairly educated but has never had much money, and I had no idea how the US college system worked or what to expect (I grew up overseas). I had zero sense of the expenses, how to game the system, what the cost of living would be like, and had never had the opportunity to hold a paying job in HS.
Without a lot of information or preparation to go on, I applied for winter admission to a few small liberal arts colleges, and ended up at one with a steep tuition but good quality programs. But, you know, liberal arts, and the 2007-08 Recession, and all that.

Graduated with about $80-90k in loan debt, lucky enough to get a job, but no room for advancement. Gave it a while and then tried to switch jobs, and that escape plan collapsed. Moved to Seattle to find work, found work, lost work, found work… lost work again in 2013. Debt payments the whole time averaged like $600 a month even though the original lenders (Chase and MHESLA) had gotten out of any further obligations by selling my debt off. Familiar story for a lot of us by now, I think.

Truth is, I made some mistakes along the way, but those mistakes were only serious because of the situation I was already in. During phases of unemployment, looking for jobs, I sometimes had to pay for essentials using credit, so my credit card debt started piling up, too. Due to the mounting stress and despair, I also developed a reliance on alcohol for a while, which didn’t help the cost of living. (I’m a lot better now, FYI.)

Applied to grad school, started in 2015. Thought I could snag some ‘skilled’ work on the side, but this was a wild goose chase. When things got desperate, I got a part-time Starbucks gig for way less earnings than my existing skills/exp could potentially earn - another familiar story for us Recession and post-Recession folks. Started having frequent panic attacks, booze problems came back, etc. After graduation, began to stabilize with some easy temp work in town, but needed to find jobs relevant to my MA. Moved to the hellswamp (DC) to do that, and have been struggling ever since.

My private debt is in the range of $70-80k and I think my federal loans are somewhere around $80k despite breaking my back (or pounding the pavement) for about a decade to get ahead of it all. I realized the grave futility of it all and finally gave up on repaying those debts this past year. I have no idea what will come next. I’m short on rent as we speak, and even though a good job always seems to be right around the corner, it’s been 1.5 years since I moved to DC and that good job has yet to actually materialize.


#10

$120k USD in student loan debt. I want to know what happens if I stop making payments. I can’t afford to pay this loan off.


#11

Hello and welcome to the platform. Please don’t blame yourself for any of this. This is not your fault. The system is the problem. Are you paying your loans now? We have dispute tools for debts in collections. In the meantime, let’s bring other people onto this platform and get organized to fight back together.


#12

Hello. Thanks for joining the platform and for your question. Not paying your student loans comes with serious consequences, but in some cases it might be the right thing to do. In the case of federal loans, the govt can eventually seize your tax return and a portion of your wages. This is why it’s a good idea to sign up for forbearance or income-based repayment (if you don’t earn very much, your payments on IBR can be very low, even zero). Signing up for one of these options will protect you from the worst consequences. In the case of private loans, they creditor may eventually sue you. But we have members who have successfully talked creditors down so they end up paying much less. This can be a good strategy for some. We should work to find the best short-term solution for you while getting organized for the longer fight. We need a JUBILEE of all student loans. We can fight for that together. Some elected officials and others are already starting to talk about it.


#13

I gotta Jubilee kinda of case. ITT technical Institute victimized me. 2002 to 2007 out of state tuition 23 years old with bachelor’s degree. Highest point of my life. 900$ dollar pay checks, 350 a week in tips. Head boss and this school full time. 18 to 23, year after graduation 2008 debt and child support came to reality. Wage went to 350$ week child support rose too 35,000. Court fines and fees for unpaid tickets resulted I’m suspensions. Not working resulted in more suspensions due too child support. I’m left with 60% of my check. My school debt as risen over 100,000 and my mom cosigned me. I was pressured to move out of state on promises from recruiters if I graduate I’m looking at a entry level job starting at 50,000 $ a year. Instead of 8 years of school I’d finish in 5 years. 2009 had my second kid. Year later CPS entered my life cause of financial stress. 2011 to 2015 had 4 more babies and my youngest boy after divorce was wrongfully terminated based on finacial support in Montana Aug 2017. This school has destroyed my reputation, my relationships, my life and I’ve never seen 5,000 dollars cash. I’m 34 years old and at 30 the Lord lifted my veil through all the pain and suffering. He lead to be Prophecy. When you say Jubilee you saying the prophetic written word of this torture so many of us received. This suppression of our constitutional rights. A inheritance in store for us all. I’m filing civil lawsuit on CPS too another Goliath just like this one. I’m doing this for my reputation only. The money means nothing but like the Bible says ITT Technical Institute made me meek but the Lord put every trial so the wise man receive the inheritance when hes righteous not when hes blind and stupid.


#14

Hi I’m Robert Vavra, a recent graduate from college with $50,000+ in debt.

With a choice between taking care of my survival expenses such as food, water, shelter, and with food stamps and medicaid cut, I cannot pay any of my loans any month right now because I choose my own life over a debt system that seeks to put me further in debt.

There is nothing I personally own in money or in things that can pay off these loans, and there are no jobs for my industry.

I’m living eating lentils and rice unable to afford rent and often my phonebill today because of a trick that was played on me when I was just a kid.

Luckily lentils and rice is one of my favorite dishes.

Enough is enough! This economic system is inherently not human focused, and no lie, I cannot pay

So I am joining a debtors union and hopefully locally in Chicago. There are no other options, and I love my self more than any debt system.

I pointed it out years ago before I went into debt how absurd it was as a concept. Years later, I am completely confident my kid self was telling the truth: this system makes no sense.

So I’m here, as an American Citizen, a member of the public, pressured from the private sector to fork over all my wages. Ok. That’s not indentured servitude.


#15

I am the only graduate in my family and the only one who lives in constant fear of my debt. I am 28 and I had to move back in with my parents. I have never had savings. My parents didnt know what they were doing when we enrolled me. I have around $35k in student loans and the interest is out of control. I feel like an idiot for going to college. Meanwhile, my younger brother has worked his way up from Barista to Store Manager at Starbucks and makes almost $10k annually more than me. I work for a great company and I bust my ass. I am constantly envious of my friends who are starting lives and buying houses because they have been able to save. When was the last time you heard anyone say “I finally paid off my loans!” Its a rare commodity.


#16

welcome

let’s get as many people as we can on this site and then launch a debt strike to demand student loan cancellation.


#17

Hey Ann

I’m on it. Local in Chicago, I’ll be speaking to people about debtcollective.org


#18

Great! Two of our organizers will be at event in your area soon. Stop by if you can.


#19

It was wonderful to attend this event!

I felt together in solidarity in heart and in the technical details I learned about wielding individual debt collectively as leverage, as well as listening to stories of debtors in similar situations to me. This is powerful!


#20

It was great to meet you last night and I look forward to organizing efforts locally!


#21

I am Ami. I have around 30k in federal loans for my education and my mom holds around 100k in PLUS loans for my education. I attended a for-profit school and am thankful that my loans and my moms loans are in administrative forbearance after filing a borrower defense to repayment claim. However, I filed in 2015. My claim has not been investigated, my forbearance never auto renews, and its stressful.