I want to first say thanks to this community for the hard work and sharing, its invaluable, it has taught me a lot and it is one of the few things that can offer me some hope of change in the future.
Here’s my question:
I foolishly completed a Doctorate at Columbia and through a series of financial calamities have ended up holding $242,000+ student loan debt (it was about $170,000 when I graduated). I graduated in 2011, and have never been able to make payments. I have held a full time teaching job since 2015, but have still not been able to afford the laughable thousands per month that they want from me. I have some loans in Nelnet, and the rest in Great Lakes. I have had the loans in default a few times, and have used deferment and forbearance but I think I am just about out of time with those.
I am very anxious that the loan servicer will soon begin to more aggressively attempt to collect. I live in the Bay Area where everything is expensive, where public transport makes not having a car very inconvenient - I am a single parent, and have two kids (one of them will be at college this fall if the virus infection rate drops sufficiently). Just commuting to work would add 2 or 3 hours to any normal day). I have no savings and cannot begin saving, my income matches my outgoings pretty evenly. I barely socialize, and do not drink or smoke. I have almost no extraneous expenses, and will simply not have the money to repay.
I heard from Nelnet that decisions are made based upon gross income alone and they do not take into consideration any other factors (like the cost of living given above).
I don’t know what to expect now, and how I can protect myself and my family. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will need to keep working and hope that any retirement i can get will cover these loans for my children, so that they do not inherit them.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!