Hello, everyone! My name is Ashley Allen and I’m a psychologist in the state of Colorado. I currently have about $330,000 in loans and will probably never be able to pay them off. I am here because I had no real idea of what I was getting into when I started accruing student loans at 18 years old. I went to a private conservative Christian school and was made to feel that the money was “pretend” (a professor even said that at one point), and that they would be forgiven one day if I did non-profit work for ten years.
I grew up in an impoverished part of North Carolina, from a family who has experienced poverty and financial mismanagement for generations. I was always told that the way out of poverty was through education, and felt pressured to become a doctor, lawyer, or other high paying career.
Unfortunately, I followed that advice. Through a series of very difficult events, I have found myself so jaded by the education system and capitalism as a whole. The institution I attended charged an ungodly amount of money, and due to my own financial illiteracy (and a husband at the time who promised to help me pay them off), I am left as a single woman with over $300,000 in loans.
I once lost my debit card and forgot to update it through Nelnet’s portal, because I made the mistake of assuming it was connected through my bank. I missed two payments on two of my loans, resulting in four missed payments. This dropped my credit score 150 points, which can be close to a death sentence for some single people living in an expensive city. I’ve been told by lawyers, my financial institution, and Nelnet that extending grace and removing those missed payments would violate the Higher Education Act.
After my divorce I accrued ~$20k in debt because I was a divorced doctoral student trying to make ends meet on a laughable stipend. I have since paid off $12k in debt, am much more skilled in managing my finances, and now make a decent salary for an early career psychologist. However, I also have the fun combination of POTS, Ehlers Danlos, and a torn rotator cuff that needs surgery within the new few months. I currently spend over $2000 a month in health expenses. I’ve also been spending ~$3-4k a month paying off credit card debt. Nothing is going towards student debt because I was trying to improve my credit score by paying off credit cards and because we don’t have to pay on them until September.
All of this to say, I’m willing to work hard to get our government to listen to our concerns and act upon them. I’m exploring the site and it’s capabilities, and am hoping to use my story and education to get results! Looking forward to working with this organization and seeing how I can help.