Get Started By Telling Your Student Debt Story

Corinne here! I feel like as of right now, my life is shaped by debt and I can’t swim out from under it. Currently, I am 40k in student loan debt currently through Nelnet about 9k in credit card debt and 25k in auto loan debt. I work for a bank so I absolutley have to keep everything in check in order to continue to work. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough not to miss a payment but that comes at a cost. I have nothing saved to put to my name. Right now, if an emergency happened and I had to stop working, I’d be screwed. It’s very daunting being absolutely terrified every second that I could run into a sitation that could throw my whole life into disarray.

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I attended ITT Technical Institute from 2005-2009. Graduated with honors with both my Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree. Ten years later, still ranking these years as the biggest regret of my life. After graduating and 6 months later being hit with a $900+ monthly bill ($80,000+ total), going through hell to find all my loans and consolidate them, signing up for IBR, and then submitting my DTR claim in 2016, I’m still waiting for relief. This debt has hindered my life tremendously. I went into massive depression which required therapy and medicine. I took out my anger on my loved ones which negatively effect my relationships. When I finally landed a job to make a decent paycheck, I always felt like I was just working to pay these loans. Even with IBR, the monthly payments were just covering interest so my principal is never dwindling. And of course I can’t utilize IBR on private loans so that’s another issue. I’m scared to get married, have kids, etc because I don’t want my family being bothered with these loans. My story is long so I tend to just put the main bullet points.

· Inquired ITT Technical Institute in St. Rose, LA. Was contacted by recruiter for a meeting. Went to meeting where I was shown around the school and was given tons of paperwork. The main things that were shown to me were about the graduation percentage and the percentage of people who received jobs in the field of study there applied for. I was going for video game design and the percentage was about 7-12% stating that many people had received a job in video game design. However, we were the second class that was part of that program. The first class didn’t even graduate yet. So it left me wondering how anyone got a job in that field if they just started that program.

· I was constantly called to follow up on me attending the school. No different than a car salesman. I was even asked to take an entry test that I never saw my score, but was told I was eligible to attend the school.

· I knew I would have to take out loans. Asked the finance department if payments would be reasonable each month. I was told they would be and that everyone does it. And if everyone does it, then that is proof that payments are reasonable.

· After attending for a year, I was told that they would have to take out private loans since my federal loans were maxed out. They really didn’t explain what that meant and made it sound like it was very similar to federal.

· The whole while I was in school, many teachers would come and go. They were swapped out numerous times and teachers were even assigned to classes they did not even specialize in. Our math class was taught by another teacher who specialized in 3D modeling/graphics. He did not have a degree in Math at all and learned along with us.

· We even had teachers provide answers to final exams because if they passed a certain percentage of students each semester, they would get a bonus.

· After I graduate, I started receiving my monthly bills of over $900 per month. I called the school’s finance department constantly asking to help straighten this out and I was either never called back, or I was disregarded. No one at that school was able to sit down with me and figure out my options on how to consolidate, lower, or even help me understand all my loans and options.

· Last, but not least, I was contacted by the career department at the school and they offered me a job at Best Buy. I did not go to ITT to work at Best Buy nor can that career pay off my student debt. Once I found a decent job on my own with a small business, I was contacted by ITT career department to give them my current employer’s information so they can add them to the career list to help students get jobs. So basically I did their job for them.

I’m fed up and I really need some relief here. Some claim I’m just asking for a hand out, but it’s far from that if people know the facts. This school was a scam and suckered me in good. And if my monthly payments were at least decreasing my principal, I wouldn’t be as bad off as I am. I’m done, I’m tired, and I want some results.

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welcome to the platform!

Hello. I’ll m pretty much like everyone else here. Graduated from ITT with the promise of a good job in the field of study and found out it was all a big scam. Fast forward over 25 years later with a wife on disability while raising 3 kids and yep, they want to garnish my wages. It would be one thing if I was able to get a career in my field of study but I’ve never used my degree, it is a totally worthless piece of paper.

I’ve submitted the DtR and have a question for the group. Will the DtR at least postpone the garnishment? I received the notice Monday and submitted the DtR this morning. My only worry is that I’ve kicked this can for so long there’s not much of a chance I’ll see anything positive.

Thanks for the forum and any positive feedback is appreciated.

Hello, Thanks for joining the Debt Collective and submitting your DTR. In answer to your question, Yes submitting your DTR application should place your loans into administrative forbearance and stop collections for now. If this does not happen, please contact your servicer to let them know you have filed DTR. You can also re-post here if you have problems with your servicer about this issue.

I have $180k+ private loans and $100k+ federal. Working on PSLF for federal. I once had hopes and dreams and have found myself in basically, debtor prison (with work release!).

Originally took out $144k in private. Have paid $70k. Still owe $180+k. Navient called the police on me and I was mental health arrested from work a few months ago. PSA: don’t tell them that your life insurance is your plan to pay them back.

So, now just waiting.

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welcome to the debt collective…you are not alone. we are here organizing together for a debt jubilee and free college

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Hello all.

I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia from '08-'09. I just stumbled upon this site today and I would like to file a DTR. Unfortunately I have no documentation from the school as proof. If anyone can point me in the right direction, it would be super helpful!

Thank you!

Hello,. Welcome to the Debt Collective. You don’t need any specific evidence of your school’s crimes. The violations of the law are already well known and in the public domain. The most important thing you can do is tell your story in as much detail as you can. Your experience counts as evidence.

I am over 60 years of age with over $140K of student loan debt that I have been paying for over 15 years steadily. It never seems to end! I only owed $61K (that’s with interest) when I consolidated about 10 years ago and it has grown steadily since then to what it is now. I have tried everything, but now they want me to pay $1600 a month; I can’t pay it. I’ve been out of school since 2001 and it just gets worse. My good friend who is also in her 60s is facing the same issues. Is there anything anyone can do to help us?

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I am a father of 2 young children and devoted husband to a wonderful wife with a mental disability. My children go to the cheapest school possible. I am drowning in debt even after a bankruptcy 2 years ago. I have an MBA from a for-profit college from which my degree effectively disables my job prospects. I work. Full time. I am in the upper working class. My net worth is negative and has not been positive since the day I walked onto my undergrad campus. We struggle every month. I have $60,000 in student loans that have almost doubled in interest and I cannot afford to pay them.
MY EDUCATION
I went to a private under-grad university that prepared me for a career that would not allow me a living wage and pay my student loans. I moved home after undergrad and began to work in jobs where I was underutilized, under appreciated, and had low pay. I became a realtor 2007 hoping to find a balance between my student loan debt and income. When the housing bubble burst, I was forced from that dream and luckily found a position in the public sector. Eager to move up, I worked diligently to perfect my craft and was promoted. Looking ahead, I knew there was a ceiling to the position I held and that I would need to better myself somehow to (hopefully) one day meet that balance.
Being a newly married man with a beautiful toddler in my life, I began my search for a graduate degree.
THE START OF MY NEW LIFE
I decided on an MBA program that was newer to the area. It was a for-profit college that was growing in popularity and recognition. They had confident and well informed staff members that slung the idea of a higher education and the career prospects that come with it like a Roman soldier on horseback riding through battle. And to my delight, the school offered an extremely accelerated program on a ground campus that did not hold the stigma of the dreaded ‘online programs’ that were beginning to pop up all over the news.
Three weeks into the program, my wife and I suffered a miscarriage. It was one of the most awful and emotionally numbing experiences I have ever experienced. I called my teacher and asked for a meeting. My focus was on the reality my family had been thrust into and would be doing myself a disservice to continue-on in this emotional state. I was quitting. The teacher had a long talk with me, he comforted me, and said that he could not allow me to postpone my effort and needed to keep me in the program. He offered to allow me an extra three days to make up a week of missed work. The deadline was 6am on the day his grades were due. It was fair and sensitive. Yet, the delivery was cold and robotic as if it were standard-issue and forced.
My wife was emotionally dead. She fell into a deep depressive state. She began to recluse. She started to see doctors that diagnosed her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder, and an Anxiety Disorder. All stemming from personal tragedies that had happened throughout her life. All of which came crashing down with the loss of our baby-to-be.
Because of her emotional state, she was unable to work, unable to eat, unable to get out of bed in the morning. She was in an emotional vegetative state that ceased her existence and two months later was diagnosed with an aggressive melanoma that required 11 separate surgeries - some small and routine, some long and large that left long forever-healing wounds across her body. Good news – all healthy tissue around those wounds.
THE PROGRAM
18 months I worked to exhaustion each day. Full time job in the morning, reading hundreds of pages of text and writing tens-of-thousands of words in research papers long into the mornings and almost all of my weekends – watching my wife and child fall asleep on the couch each night patiently awaiting the moment that dad could take a break from tapping away at the keys.
All classes at the school were set up on a team basis. Each team of three to four students would form a charter and collaborate on projects throughout the class. When one of the team members were late or indifferent about their share of the project, it fell to the other team members to tow the line. Faculty could be approached about enforcing the charter against the team member’s lack of effort. The charter would be deemed useless and a standard response would be given.
“Just like in the real world: If one element of the team fails, the whole team fails.”
Even when removed from the team, that member would still be scored on the team’s effort for the class.
I became the editor and collaborator for each team throughout the program. Everyone in the program knew that no matter what natural disaster, dog-ate-my-homework excuse, or minimal and disastrous atrocity of the English language turned in to the team, I was NOT going to fail. I would research the entirety of the project and write outlines for myself so that when my teammates inevitably failed, I was prepared to carry the team to completion. And I did. Over and over again for 18 grueling months.
GRADUATION DAY
Graduation Day was the most prideful I had ever felt. I woke up bright and early and headed out across town to the ceremony. My wife, child, and a few family members would meet me at the venue and cheer me on to new prospects. I remember how I felt standing in that back hallway waiting to enter the rented arena. Looking out through the curtains and catching sight of my wife as the loves of my life shuffled across the aisle and took their seats.
That’s when I heard the sentence that would drown that beautifully bright morning in a sea of depression.
“If it weren’t for Google, I wouldn’t have never made it here today.”
At first, I laughed and asked if the phrase’s source standing behind me had gotten lost on the way to arena. He laughed back and stated he would never have passed a test if he could not have googled the answer to each question on each of his exams. The shock on my face was surprising to him. He nudged his friend telling him “This guy didn’t know how to ‘research’ the answers for the tests.”
“Oops, that sucks for you.” His friend replied as others overhearing the conversation nodded in agreement.
The curtains opened and in my confusion, I stumbled out into the great hall to cheers from all sides. Down the center aisle, the tassel lightly tapping the back of my head in an attempt to revive me from my stupor.
I remember looking up at my wife and seeing her adjusting our daughter’s dress. It felt like the last picture I would ever have of her. As the rest of the congregation sat, I remained standing as the tidal wave of reality crested and crushed my soul. I stood there. Shocked. Looking into the crowd of liars and cheats. Wondering how many others there were like me whose crowning accomplishments were being robbed of their luster right there in the open public with so many eyes watching.
THE AFTERMATH
Seven years later, I am still in public service. I have taken on other lateral positions but my only accomplishments have come from very hard work and mastery of my pre-grad skills. I have a professional resume that is filled with valuable experience in a plethora of areas and I have not been to an interview in years.
The school’s alumni outreach program contacts me often to tout the university’s marketplace. “Come buy a t-shirt and a coffee mug and by the way, here are some free socks to show your pride in your alma mater.” The university’s job marketplace holds job listings as I write this for Cashier-Restaurant Team Member, Dishwasher, Meat Clerk, Server, Utility Worker, and Assistant Food Service Manager. All of which have salaries of less than half of what I was earning when I started graduate school.
THE MESSAGE
These for-profit degree-mills are conning a generation into indentured servitude. I have been had. As have all of the others that have become after and before me. The university’s website proudly displays a banner celebrating its millionth alumni. 1 Million! 1 out of every 327 Americans! A group the size of the entire population of MONTANA has been defrauded by just one of these organizations. Actions like theirs have crippled a generation with student loan debt. We are faced with a looming economic crisis where our government loses billions, if not trillions of American dollars.
The choice becomes:
Do we do something about this now, suffer the hit to our economy with the loss of this money owed to the American people, and release a generation from their bonds to stimulate the economy again?
Or
Do we sit on our hands patiently awaiting the day we as a people realize that these debts will only ever be partially recovered and lose an entire generation of consumers?

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Hi Desolit. Thank you for sharing your story. This makes me very angry. We are definitely not going to wait patiently for something to change. We are going to fight for it. Please stay connected to this community. We are going to be campaigning for debt relief for all. In the meantime, please share this resource with anyone else you know who is in the same boat.

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I went back to school for my degrees to help people and became a bedside RN and then an NP. I work in cardiology which is a pressing need in this country. While finishing my masters degree I found out I had a life threatening heart condition myself and required a pacemaker. On top of my almost 1500 dollars a month student loan payments, I have $152,000 in total student debt, I am also still trying to pay off my medical bills from the pacemaker. It is hard to try and get ahead and enjoy the fruits of hard labor when there is so much debt constantly. I joke with my patients that I am a walking ATM for creditors, specifically the government. I tried to sign up for the government nurse corps loan forgiveness scholarship and job, but every time I went to the website (over 18 times during 3 weeks) it was down and not working and I called the phone number 5 times and was always on hold for more than an hour and when I wasn’t disconnected I was given no help as well.
Its also hard to take care of people sometime when they don’t have health insurance but they get pacemakers and other life saving surgical procedures and don’t pay the hospital anything, and then I am trying to do everything right and have insurance and am still trying to pay off my bills. It just makes me wonder when those that are working hard and doing the right thing are going to get some help.
I enjoy my job of helping people, but I had to take out debt to get my degree to do the job, plus I could not work full time so I had to take a little extra for living expenses. When you have to get advanced degrees to do things that are meaningful in society such as health providers, teachers, counselors, etc. it is hard to see when you will ever get to enjoy the benefits of working that hard.

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My husband and I owe over $140,000 collectively in federal student loans. We graduated 10 years ago, after learning that half of his community college credits did not properly transfer into the university, and the university was having him retake classes he passed (at our expense, of course). We had to FIGHT fight for those remaining credits to count, though the damage was already done.

I think it’s funny how the Credit Card Act prevents credit card companies from marketing to people under 21, but the student loan machine is brainwashing us into thinking we can pay back what we borrow. Never mind graduating during a hiring freeze, never mind STILL not working in my field of study.

I have BPD and I have a lot of anxiety surrounding the overwhelming debt hanging over our heads. We tried repayment plans, but I was out of work on disability for a few months and could not cancel our payments (they start drafting 10 days before the due date).

Now we are receiving bully notices.

What can we do??

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Hello! Thanks for sharing this story. You make a very good point about regulations for credit cards! We are getting ready to launch an organizing campaign for FULL student debt cancellation. Watch this space, and please please ask your friends and family to join our community as well.

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I went to a private school Though it was a “good” school, it was very expensive. At the time (2003-2008), you had to include your parents income, by whom i did not receive any assistance, in any financial aid filings. I received very little financial aid, and graduated with $80k in private loan debt. After forbearances, it ballooned to nearly $130k!!! After years on stressful phone calls, dozens of credit hits (they wanted nearly $900 a month payments), and high interest forbearances, we have come to a monthly payment that will get me paid in full slightly before my 90th birthday.

They recently contacted me about getting out of debt with a settlement of $30k-$35k, saving nearly $100k. I dont have $35k laying around or I would have jumped. I have read about your organization and the great work you have done. I am hoping similar to the rolling jubilee that we together can take back our futures by helping each other. Im sure you all feel as alone as i do

Thanks for listening. If anything, its cathartic to tell my story.

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Thank you for sharing your story. Question, they are offering you a settlement on your private loans? not federal loans, right?

Yes, they are private loans through Navient. They were sure to hammer my credit for a decade before offering it!

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Hi, my name is Ches. Graduated college in 2012 and currently have about $55k in student loan debt and over $6k in credit card debt. My wife has over $65k in student loan debt as well. We live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t even make $30k a year. I defaulted on my loans because they stopped letting me defer. I leave my phone on do not disturb because debt collectors won’t leave me alone despite me telling them I literally have no money to spare after paying bills. My car got repossessed because of my financial situation. The government began to garnish my wages. I’m severely depressed and believe a fair bit of it is due to my financial problems and feeling as if there’s no way out. I’ve even tried killing myself because I saw no way out, but that just ended in hospital bills. I’m probably going to die with student loan debt.

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Hi Chelsey. Thank you for writing and sharing your story. Very sorry this is happening to you. We are organizing here to win debt cancellation.

I wanted to mention that our organizing team can try to work with you to stop the garnishment you are experiencing. We have a garnishment dispute tool on our DISPUTES page. Check it out. Using the tool will put you in touch with an organizer.

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