Get Started By Telling Your Student Debt Story

My name is James. Together, my partner and I took out about $175,000 in loans to pay for our graduate and undergraduate programs. With a price tag like that, you might assume at least one of us works in a profitable industry. Unfortunately, no. I am a teacher and she is a librarian. To date, we have paid $178,662.19. I am 33 years old. No house. No children. My life savings is $3,220.90. I do not have anything for retirement, and we still owe $76,213.91.


I don’t see a way out.

I am not looking for debt-cancellation; I am just looking for some kind of hope.

I recognize that I made some poor decisions, and that those played a role in why I find myself in my current indebted situation.

I wrongly thought (if I thought at all) that it would be relatively easy for me to pay back student loans.

I wrongly thought that having university degrees would make it easier for me to find a stable job with decent pay and benefits.

I wrongly thought that I would be able to escape the intense financial hardships of my childhood with education.

I wrongly thought that I could free myself from the fetters of poverty if I could just free my mind from the psychological limits it imposes and that I could do so by following my intellectual and creative desires instead of dollar signs.

I wrongly thought that pursuing a career path in a field for which I had deep passion and interest would help carry me through and past difficult times, and that I would ultimately find myself in a better place.

I wrongly thought that moving from a very conservative, rural area to a large metropolitan area in search of greater opportunity and creative and intellectual stimulation, not to mention greater freedom to be who I am and freer from the threat of violence and humiliation, was not the solution it promised to be as it is far more expensive.

I see that those misconceptions among many others are part of why I have a huge debt now, and that as everything, I must live with the consequences of my decisions.

I also see that my debt has more than doubled since I finished graduate school due to the high interest rates of my loans.

I also see that my debt increases each year because interest capitalizes and compounds because I don’t make enough money even to pay just the interest on the loan.

I also see that unlike other debt, I cannot discharge it anymore due to laws passed by Congress more than 20 years ago.

I also see that I cannot re-finance my loans to a lower interest rate if I want the meager protections the government provides.

I also see that if I wait out the entire loan term that although the remaining balance will indeed be discharged, that it will nonetheless therefore be counted as income for which I will be responsible for income tax; and that I will have to enter into some sort of payment plan even more harsh than the current one.

I also see that if I make it through to the end of my loan term that I will be a senior citizen in retirement without a pension or savings and over 1 million dollars in debt.


We built this platform to join together with others and build power to challenge creditors and change the current reality/dynamics. Do your friends have a similar experience to yours? Will you ask them to join this platform so we can begin to coordinate a campaign for full debt cancellation and tuition free edu? We have power in numbers and there are masses of people experiencing what you’ve just described. We need to build a robust debt resistance campaign. We are getting ready to launch this effort and each new person who joins tilts the balance in our favor.

I am here for the organizing. What do we need to do? How many people?

I am +50K in debt doing the pay-as-you-earn option on federal student loans. My debt is increasing because the monthly payments that were calculated based on my income are not covering the interests, but I won’t put a penny more. I am hoping to get the debt cancelled after 120 payments as I work for a non-profit, but see that only 3% of people that qualify for this option get their debt cancelled.

I am here because I heard Astra talk on the Intercept podcast and believe in collective bargaining. I can bring more folks, but it would be good to know what we can do.


Hi there,
I would suggest you begin here.

Find your state, district…and post there to see if there are members in your area. We need to pressure local representative to support the College for All Legislation that will wipe out all 1.6+ Trillion in student debt.


Hi Astrid, Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here. As @Dawn_L mentioned a good way to get started is to contact your rep if you haven’t already. We are also going to launch a strike campaign here soon, so stay tuned for that. It’s important we be bring as many people onto this platform to help push Bernie Sanders’s bill which would cancel ALL student debt. Can you help by encouraging people you know to join?


Thanks, Dawn! I just did.

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I am in a very similar boat! I have just over 200k in federal loans. I am literally going crazy from all of this and seeking a mental health discharge–although this really won’t do much as my husband co-signed on my Grad PLUS loans. I am beyond stuck and am disgusted with it.

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Hello everyone,

I have $5,501.91 worth of student debt from Sallie Mae a private bank. I had to collect this debt to complete my graduate school as the international rates in my home country more than doubled during my program. I have been stuck with this debt for over a year now since graduating in Spring 2018.
Can anyone share their story or offer any advice on how to reduce or possibly clear student debt from Sallie Mae. The interest rates are very high & its taking forever to be paid off. Thank you for your help in advance.

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Last time I check my Student Loan debt was almost $70,000. Ten years ago my Federal Student Loan was about $55,000. Disturbing the amount of interest that has been applied. I do not make enough money to support myself and my two boys, so I am not currently paying on the loan, but the interest continues to grow. For more on my story, you can read my Blog - “Student Loan Reform Now” as there is so much to my story I can’t possibly write it all down here. Good luck to you all! I know the focus of this site is to push for forgiving all Student Loans and making college free for all, but I think we should also consider pushing for the ability to declare bankruptcy on our loans. Everyone tells me this is not possible. I think it should be.

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Hello! Welcome to the Debt Collective. I read your blog and am impressed with your work trying to help people. So many people go to college to train to help others, and then they can’t make a decent living in those professions. Many more people WOULD go into social work or similar professions if they didn’t have to fear going into debt. As for bankruptcy, we support returning bankruptcy protections to student loans - of course! But the possibility of cancelling all student debt and winning free college are on the table now in a real way. So we are setting that as a goal.
Hope you will bring more people onto this site.

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Hello, Have you tried the private student student loan tool? Go to DISPUTE YOUR DEBT and check it out. This is an experimental tool, but it’s worth a try. It can help you learn whether your lender has all the paperwork to legally collect your debt.

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Thanks for the info! I have submitted a dispute on the platform & I’ll continue to follow up.

Thanks again!

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Hello Ann-

Thank you! Finally I have found a community. I thought I was all alone in my plight. I agree that the focus should be on forgiveness and free college for all. I am hopeful we will get what we need to survive. Thanks to y’all. I can’t possibly express my gratitude in words, however, I think (as is my style) I can show how grateful I am by providing y’all space on my Blog to bring attention to the movement. What do you think of my Blog? I have made some changes. Thoughts?




Hello Folks!!! :wave:

:loudspeaker: Who here is READY TO TAKE ACTION to win #College4all and Full Cancellation of all 1.6 Trillion in student debt??? We are working hard behind the scene getting the platform ready to launch next steps and actions… in the meantime we do have an easy and simple call to action for those willing to participate.

Who is on STRIKE and NOT MAKING PAYMENTS on their student debt?
• You are actively refusing payment. Loans are delinquent or in default.
• Your loans are in Forbearance or Deferment Status.
• Your IBR is $0 a month.

If this is you, can you send me @Dawn_L :camera_flash: picture of yourself and :thought_balloon: 1-2 lines on why you are on strike.

For example,
My name is Dawn L. and I am on strike because I know we have a right to education without this reckless burden of debt. I am fighting for full cancelation of all student debt because I know we all have been defrauded, regardless of what school we went to.

I guess under those terms I am already on Strike as my IBR is $0 a month. It appears to be pretty easy if you have kids as one requirement is you must provide more than 50% of your child’s support. At least with my loan company, I just had to write an email stating that my two boys receive more support from me than their moms. My loan company did not check and did not ask for any proof. In my case this is honestly the circumstance (I have my boys just under 50% of the time, but provide more than 50% of their support). I think just about anyone can claim this (married or not) as long as their spouse/partner is not claiming the same amount of support.

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Hi Michael - Yes you are. Please join the campaign!


Hi everyone,
Thanks for this space and conversation. I am from Canada, am 30 years old and have about $90,000 in student loan debt ( federal loans) and $17,000 in credit card debt. I come from a small northern community where secondary education rates are low and people are encouraged to skip school in order to work in oil and gas. Despite years of industry representatives giving presentations in our education system about the drawbacks of further education and the benefits of industry, I still knew from kindergarten I wanted to go to this thing called “university”. I come from a very low income and trauma affected family but found school a place of gratification and safety.
I got by on federal loans, bursaries, scholarships and service jobs. I decided to do my masters in Counselling Psychology on student loans. After completing my masters and working for over 10 years in non profit frontline work, I was officially burnout and needed to step back to start processing my own childhood and examine myself in order to truly help others again.

I worked in cafes, a lobster boat, travelled the east coast, and began my own trauma work in that year of letting go and healing. I would often have small heart attacks when I used my credit card for basic things, but knew it was for my overall health to do the emotional work that was needed, much of my debt now comes from healing and therapy.
Though intellectually I have always been extremely critical of our current financial system, and would refer to my student loan debt as “monopoly money” (could be flimsy pinks and greens if I cared), as an activist and idealist for alternative ways of living, I still really have struggled at times with the shame of this debt! I can feel dominant narratives seep in, I am caught comparing myself to my peers, and I can feel like quite a failure though I intellectually know none of this is true and our system is so broken. So the shame is real, and as I continue to grow and learn about my old shame stories this debt has so much of a lessened grip.
I have had positive experiences here in Canada, calling a non profit debt agency who actually helped me understand my real problem has nothing to do with money but with my own right to basic needs, which I think rings true for our western economic system. Thanks for listening and sharing, I am so thrilled to connect to this community.


Hello, and thank you for creating and offering this space for me and others to share our troubling stories of a flawed system.

My preferred name is Samantha Lochs, and I live and go to school in New York City. I moved here to get away from my very emotional abusive and controlling mother, as well as my very depressive and suicidal life in Florida. I am very close to graduating; but I’ve been struggling with wanting to drop out for years now. I’ve accumulated 35K in federal loans and 15K in private loans, and 4K in credit card debt. My mom helps me with half of my living expenses, but refuses to pay my tuition. My dad is co-signed on my private loans but I doubt he will actually ever help me pay them off. All me and my mom do is fight over finances and honestly, I hate her. I want to drop out so badly because what’s the point in me graduating and putting myself in so much debt if I’m just going to be stuck working a restaurant job my whole life trying to pay this shit off.

I have worked my entire time thoughout college, I’ve even taken some unpaid internships which have led to jobs. But my boss does not pay me enough money for me to pay my bills (I barely earn $300 a month), and he refuses to give me a raise despite him owning his own animation company, and just recently buying a new apartment in Manhattan. I’m constantly spending my money on bills and it feels like a never ending painful cycle.

I don’t know what to do anymore, I wish all the time some financial miracle would come along and make it disappear. It’s so hard for me to stay motivated in what I want to be doing when this debt seems to be the only thing growing in between my wallet and me achieving my goals.

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