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I have to get to work so I'll make this quick - I just want to share what I am going through.  Here's the email that I sent to them; apparently you can "dispute" your balance.  No one's ever told me that before.

I'd love to hear your stories if you have similar experiences to share.  The collector is a government contractor, collecting for the Department of Education, Windham Professionals.

My original principal was under $30,000.  My current balance is $138,000 – Four and a half times what I initially borrowed.  In addition, I did make payments on this debt; in my estimation totaling about $12,000.

I will agree to reasonable terms, not usurious ones. The only reason I “agreed” to the various loan deferments, forbearances and consolidations was because I had no other choice.  There were times I would have filed bankruptcy, but student loans are the only financial instrument in this country that are not able to be renegotiated or discharged in bankruptcy.  I. Had. No. Choice.

I had virtually zero income from 2008 – 2011.  I was on federal assistance and food stamps.  In that time, I was in your so-called “sliding scale” payment “arrangement”, and in that time my balance DOUBLED.  Before that, I was paying when I could.  Even as I watched my balance increase exponentially, I continued to pay.  But now, to see this ridiculously huge balance, even after almost 20 years of acting in good faith, I say stop.

I am not trying to run away from my debt.  I will agree to pay back what I borrowed, minus what I have already paid, and agree to REASONABLE terms.  Reasonable terms do not include paying 460% of my original principal.  I refuse to enter into any kind of payment arrangement until these terms are agreed upon.

I basically have no motivation to pay this back under these conditions.  I know that, in default or not, whether I pay or not, the ridiculous interest on this loan has ruined my financial future.  I own nothing of value.  I have no assets.  I am self-employed and make a meager income.  I have nothing for you to take away from me.  If you want to recuperate anything at all, then allow me to renegotiate this down to something that is reasonable, that will allow me to see a financially stable future for myself - not one that will keep me mired in impossible debt for the rest of my life.

1:53 PM PT: Thank you all so much for the support, the great ideas, and sharing your stories.  Once again, I have to work.  I have a busy day today and this was a very unexpected detour.... but I sure feel better sharing with my fellow Kossacks...

Thanks for the rec list and I'll be checking in later!!!

So if you're curious as to what a bill from the Department of Education looks like for a $0.00 payment due on a $100,000 loan balance, here it is.  This is from August of 2012 - note that I was not in default.

 photo 1d7136db-4ad8-4bed-95b2-4b7f8bae9e70_zpsdc021560.jpg

Here's a close-up:

 photo 1774398d-4cf3-4bc0-bee7-a91555625bf9_zps4c4626a3.jpg

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  •  Tip Jar (172+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III, ksh01, Thinking Fella, jsfox, NYFM, HairyTrueMan, tardis10, elwior, murrayewv, viral, kainah, icemilkcoffee, implicate order, crystal eyes, BlueMississippi, Stripe, weck, Involuntary Exile, Tinfoil Hat, livingthedream, whenwego, Sun Tzu, mikejay611, spacecadet1, OldDragon, quagmiremonkey, EastcoastChick, Mr Robert, Eileen B, middleagedhousewife, swampyankee, Lady Libertine, anodnhajo, ChemBob, mconvente, slowbutsure, briefer, TracieLynn, blueoasis, JVolvo, marleycat, Geenius at Wrok, Winston Sm1th, MKinTN, wader, gnothis, Aaa T Tudeattack, Laurel in CA, bleeding blue, Terre, mofembot, Norm in Chicago, helpImdrowning, nemoplanetia, gloriana, one of 8, flowerfarmer, Dodgerdog1, AJ in Camden, Liberal Mole, lunachickie, SteelerGrrl, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, kathny, escapee, davis90, Bruce The Moose, susakinovember, No Exit, maybeeso in michigan, OllieGarkey, eeff, joeschmeaux, Tool, Chaddiwicker, maryabein, terrybuck, dont think, One Pissed Off Liberal, sulthernao, fumie, Orinoco, LaFeminista, Odysseus, cybersaur, Roadbed Guy, Nisi Prius, CA Nana, Cassandra Waites, kyril, travelerxxx, petulans, Josiah Bartlett, exNYinTX, rbird, mattc129, johnnygunn, wxorknot, sable, AoT, CJB, dkmich, Zorge, Cofcos, Ezekiel in Exile, CanyonWren, lotlizard, peachcreek, mumtaznepal, StateofEuphoria, GeorgeXVIII, Matilda, Siri, not a lamb, ciganka, hopeful, Getreal1246, Patango, dotdash2u, Kaina PDX, xaxnar, high uintas, doingbusinessas, Notreadytobenice, tobendaro, ichibon, badscience, puckmtl, Jim Domenico, codairem, Pluto, Al Fondy, dov12348, lcrp, Billlll, wuod kwatch, denise b, blue aardvark, The Jester, Statusquomustgo, rapala, Assaf, sillycarrot, IowaBiologist, pickandshovel, ceebee7, paradise50, karmsy, Free Jazz at High Noon, chimene, Foothills of Oblivion, shortgirl, NinetyWt, Shockwave, radical simplicity, peptabysmal, Robynhood too, Dvalkure, JerryNA, ladybug53, lennysfo, Hastur, RUNDOWN, Llywarch, Farugia, BusyinCA, nomandates, NoMoreLies, George3, joynow, tofumagoo, FarWestGirl

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:24:12 AM PST

    •  In this case, sounds like the Federal government (11+ / 0-)

      is the party effectively holding the loan - while it may be serviced by a private company.

      The way student loans work, the debtor is in very bad shape if after school she has low or no incomes.

      No discharging of student debt was done so lower interest rates would apply to student loans.  This was also to avoid having people earn expensive and high paying degrees, in which they could discharge their debt early in their career, while still keeping the value of their degrees.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:42:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Creating more problems than it solved (16+ / 0-)
        in which they could discharge their debt early in their career, while still keeping the value of their degrees
        For a small problem that could have been addressed with existent laws.
        •  Personally, I think that it would be fine if (11+ / 0-)

          people could discharge all school loan debt and keep the value of their degrees.  

          If we want a modern and advanced society, we need to keep people going to college and getting higher degrees afterwards.

          If we want a society made up of a bunch of people working at McDonalds selling burgers to people who work at Pizza Hut and Pizza Hut people selling pizzas to people working at McDonalds, then we should just close down all the schools and get on with it.

          •  Thomas Friedman would think that's great! nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            IowaBiologist

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 07:46:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, you, too, can earn pin money (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              as a "micro-entrepreneur" and spend your whole life just getting by, instead of going to college, taking on a load of debt, and spending your whole life just getting by!

              Seriously, though, your story here left me with a whole stew of emotions, and also left me wondering how our system of financing education has turned so perverse.  Excellent diary, and you have my fullest sympathies.

              FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

              by IowaBiologist on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:47:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you.... (5+ / 0-)

                It's nice to tell my story and have so much support.  It didn't used to be this way - no one understood.  Everyone thought I was just being irresponsible.

                Granted, I've never been a financial genius.  I haven't been as smart as I should have been sometimes.  But, I also had a lot of bad luck.

                I was married to someone who couldn't work due to depression; I supported him on a very meager income for four years, in southern California, and then we finally split up because I couldn't do it anymore.  Every time in my life that I've managed to get excited that I'm cleaning things up and getting ahead, something happens.  A broken leg, a lost job, the crash, a sick pet, car problems... you name it.

                Last year, I actually managed to get $2,000 in reserve.  It was gone in six weeks due to unforeseen expenses.  Boom. Gone.

                I made some mistakes, but what kills me the most is that you see Wall Street make WAY bigger mistakes than I ever did and they're just fine.  Hell, a company fucking contaminates the water of 600,000 people and they cry "bankruptcy"!  And people think that I'm bad guy....

                But thanks again - this really, really helped.....

                "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:56:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Separating the servicer from the loan holder (17+ / 0-)

        means the servicer has no incentive to modify terms. Ever. They make more money if things just keep getting worse and worse, dragging things out, until the borrower dies of stress or starvation.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:49:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Modifying terms would be a Federal government (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          policy, it is not up to the service company.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:01:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, not always (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Farugia

            While Obama has managed to ban private school loans, I don't think he banned the consolidators, and those guys are a huge part of the problem.  They buy the loan from the originator, and charge whatever terms they want.  Unregulated.

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 07:48:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This was the bullshit line pushed in the late 70s. (10+ / 0-)

        The newspapers were filled with stories of doctors who declared Chapter 7 just before sliding into their six-figure practices.

        Some of these stories may have actually been real, but the whole thing was propaganda aimed at making debt slaves of people who were never going to make six-figure salaries.

        I had a bankruptcy law prof who tried to tell us how bad this was for our generation much less those coming after.  At the time, few of us took her seriously.

      •  Higher education loans were taken over by the (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYFM, JerryNA, Fonsia, joynow

        DoEd, as part of the ACA. Before that, all the feds did was guarantee the loans, which meant that banks had every incentive not to collect and keep piling on fees in the expectation that eventually the feds would pay up.
        Getting old accounts over to the DoEd is obviously taking some time. New loans were handled by the department beginning in early 2012, ahead of the schedeuled implementation and before the election, which was another reason for Republicans to be pissed.
        The interest saved by not paying for the banks' mismanagement, as well as educational programs that had no real educational value, was supposed to pay for the expansion of Medicaid. Republicans railed about it under the heading of Obama's tyranny because they couldn't be up front about protecting their banker friends' asses. This loss of guaranteed income by local banks is another reason for the opposition to the ACA.

        If the administration's plan to forgive the loans of people who went to work in critical areas or hard to reach places was to be practicable, the feds have to be in charge of the funds.

        Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

        by hannah on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:14:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It was a privatization scam (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        La Gitane, Sychotic1, Fonsia, NoMoreLies

        Student loans used to be the sole province of the federal government, with banks as the processors for the paperwork. You applied through your bank, but it was the government making the loan. Banks collected a small fee, but none of the interest.

        During the Bush administration, the banks saw an opportunity to get their hands on the billions of dollars represented by student loan interest. But just gathering interest wasn't good enough for the banks. They didn't want to make a simply reasonable amount of money, nor did they want to have to bother with any due diligence in determining whether a loan made sense, and most importantly, nor did they want to assume any risk - at all.

        So, they lobbied the hell out of their bribed campaign-financed puppets representatives in congress to give them the right to make loans directly, and to set their own interest rates, and, for icing, to make the debt non-dischargeable, so they could be absolutely guaranteed not only payback, but cost-plus payback. It was the institution of debt-peonage via student loans.

        Since they no longer had to care about whether or not a loan made any sense at all, they were then free to lure hopeful students and their proud parents into indentured servitude.

        •  Yep - exactly (5+ / 0-)

          but Clinton in the 90's brought on the first step - the private consolidators. Those are the guys that fucked me up.  Bought all my 2% loans and turned them into 8% loans with crazy penalties... just like a credit card.  No regulation whatsoever.

          Obama has banned the private originators (thank you!!) but the consolidators are still out there.  It would be a great reform if, upon graduation, all your itty bitty loans were bundled up into one, at 2 or 3%, and payments scheduled that were commensurate with your income.  Not that hard, really.

          If my loans had kept the same terms as they did when I borrowed them, they'd be paid off by now.  These collectors won't shut up about how the consolidations were "another loan that I took out", to make it sound like I'm taking out credit over and over again.  It's bullshit.  They don't market them like that, and you have no other options than default.  It sucks.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 07:55:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yep (49+ / 0-)

      I was in the first generation of folks that got to taste privatized student loans.  Not when I borrowed them mind you, but when I "consolidated" them.

      You have a "choice" - 8 payments per month totaling over $1,000, or one for $200 or so.  What would you do?  My 2% loans mushroomed to 8%, with crazy terms and penalties....

      And now it's my fault for "agreeing" to those terms. Might as well have thrown in my first born.... would have agreed to that too.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:38:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow. I guess the warning is... (6+ / 0-)

        Always read the fine print. Thank goodness we now have the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the requirement that all loan terms have to be spelled out prominently and clearly in plain English. It's really a pity we didn't have it at a time when it could have helped you and thousands of others like you.

        "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

        by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:36:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This kind of crap (11+ / 0-)

          doesn't seem to have existed, even in the fine print, when the diarist first signed on. Otherwise, it would have told her that her principal could balloon into 4.5 times what she originally borrowed.

          And who would sign off on that? You? Me? Doubtful.

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:44:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (16+ / 0-)

            And the BIG difference between student loans and other loans is that by the time your done you can have over a dozen mini "loans" that you have to keep track of, so of course you consolidate.  And while those initial loans were only 2% or 3%, the private consolidators add all kinds of terms and conditions that are more similar to consumer loans.

            That's where the trouble is.  Offer one loan for your entire education, up front, with easy terms.

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:24:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is a failure of the Left. (5+ / 0-)
              And while those initial loans were only 2% or 3%, the private consolidators add all kinds of terms and conditions that are more similar to consumer loans.
              If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  Competition WILL destroy bad actors in this case.

              It would be better to reduce or eliminate tuition entirely, but nobody's doing that either.

              -7.75 -4.67

              "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

              There are no Christians in foxholes.

              by Odysseus on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:34:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It may interest you to know that consumer debt (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Shockwave, tobendaro, Farugia, La Gitane

              held by the federal government has increased from about $135 billion in 2008 to about $724 billion this past November.  It is the only category of debt which has increased significantly, largely because of taking over the higher education loan portfolios.

              http://www.federalreserve.gov/...

              Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

              by hannah on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:21:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's what they gave the banksters back in 2008. (5+ / 0-)

                Seems like something should be done to revoke these ridiculous terms and return debtors to original interest rates and lower balances.

                SOMETHING needs to be done so people are no longer slaves to the collection agencies, and can get on with their lives.

                •  The banksters do not consider it a gift. (0+ / 0-)

                  As long as they had the loans on their books, they were considered assets and as they piled on penalties and fees, they recorded increasing asset value. Being bought out did not make the bankersters happy. Quite the opposite. There is a program to re-negotiate the debts. That's why the diarist was told she could contest the amount.
                  Our whole system of laws is based on individual complaints and demands. The agents of government are not supposed to do anything unless prompted by a complaint. In a sense, that's even what Barack Obama and Joe Biden are referring to when they say "you must make me do it." That the people have the power means that individual initiative is required to set the wheels of society in motion.
                  "Let George do it," is a sort of wishful thinking on the part of lazy people. Dubya was glad to be "let" to do stuff 'cause he had no interest in doing anything but flap his lips.
                  On the other hand, that complaints are the basis for action also goes to explain how come some of our agents of government, especially those who lust for power, go to great lengths to render the citizenry compliant, before they have a chance to register a complaint. Cops, in particular, are intent on gaining compliance so citizens won't lodge complaints.

                  Wasn't that the objective of the messengers to Dawn Zimmer -- to render her compliant before she could complain about her community's deprivation?
                  Republicans are convinced that authority is entitled to coerce compliance with its directives. And threats are, of course, cheaper than bribes.

                  Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

                  by hannah on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 02:47:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  The Rule of 72 is real damned easy to learn. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Involuntary Exile, Donkey Hotey, NYFM

            That most people don't is a source of vast dysfunction.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:31:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Who reads the fine print? (5+ / 0-)

            Did you read every last page of your mortgage agreement or just the pages they told you to sign? Most people don't even read those. That's why there is now a requirement for a truth in lending statement in plain English that spells out the major financial provisions as well as a HUD statement with all your costs.

            When my husband's sister and niece signed their student loan agreements they didn't read any of the documents, just the cover page that told them what their initial interest rate and monthly payments would be. They'll be collecting Social Security before those loans are paid off. And somehow I don't think they're that different from most other people who took out student loans.

            "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

            by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:46:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I did (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              I read all contracts. But I recognize that it's unusual to do so. And, of course, most people couldn't understand the legalese if you paid them.

              In one case, reading a purchase & sale agreement, it took so long that I pissed off the realtor ... until I found a clause in their boilerplate, which had been there for YEARS, that would have allowed any of their potential buyers to back out of any purchase, instantly, at any point in the purchase process, scot-free.

              Then she liked me.

              I've also found a clause in a standard Microsoft software agreement that would automatically assign your company's intellectual property to MS if any of your engineers made the mistake of mentioning to one of their employees anything your company was working on (and no, they wouldn't need to mention a single detail, just a project name or general concept would be sufficient). Our CEO called their CEO (they knew each other) to arrange a conference call with their lawyers and we had them change it.

          •  I believe the privatization law passed around 2006 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            If the diarist went to school prior to that, and took out loans via the government, then consolidated the loans after that (but before the Obama admin reverted to government-only loans), then she would definitely have been in the right cohort to not have any warning - or reason to suspect - the usury allowed by privatization.

            •  Thanks radical (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radical simplicity

              that's exactly what happened.  I took out government loans, before private loans were available, from 1992-1995.  Where I got screwed was through the private consolidators who have ZERO regulation.

              Not only that, but they were trading student loans as derivatives just like the mortgages.  I got at least three or four notices over the years that the holder of my loan was no longer XX and was now YY....

              FUBAR

              "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

              by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:01:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Which would mean the warning is really (7+ / 0-)

          "Don't pursue higher education." Because many of us have no choice with these things. It didn't matter what I read, it would always be the same terms.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:06:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The problem seems to be the consolidation, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattc129, mumtaznepal, JerryNA

            not the original loans. So, in fact, making the terms clear, up front, and in plain English does matter. If you knew that you were giving up your 3% loan for an 8% loan for nothing other than the convenience of writing fewer monthly checks, would you agree to that? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. I wouldn't. At least the CFPB makes lenders state all the important terms up front. If we have all the facts we can make an informed choice.

            "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

            by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:31:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  At two of my universities, they changed loan (10+ / 0-)

              providers every year—market competition, don't you know. And each lender had a maximum, so to cover expenses, they offered you two sets of loans per semester.

              After just two years of grad work, that amounts to four separate loans, each with a minimum payment in the hundreds.

              Anyone that did this for four years of undergrad, or for longer as undergrad+grad, may have 8 or 10 separate loans, each with a minimum payment.

              So then you're all graduated and you find that on a loan total the size of a car you're on the hook for $many hundreds or even $thousands of dollars per month.

              How are you going to pay? And have a life (and food) at the same time?

              So the consolidators come along and offer to cut your monthly payments precipitously, to a fraction of what they were.

              It's the only choice you've got.

              People say "well, you didn't have to accept the terms of all of those loans," but what are you going to do? Drop out of school after the first year when they spring the lender changes on you? Once you've already taken on an initial slate of loans and will owe them regardless? Only if you drop out because you "refuse to sign," you won't have a degree. You'll have the costs without the benefit to your gross income.

              It's all a scam. I work in higher education but I routinely tell people to think long and hard about going to college, particularly if they're disadvantaged. It's a rich person's game.

              Mostly what college does to the poor is absolutely fleece them, then take everything they own, then leave them destitute.

              Nine times out of ten, it's not a good deal.

              There's so much discourse on the income differences between non-college grads and college grads. But these don't provide any benefit if the obligations that result increase faster than the income does—and that part of the story is rarely told.

              -9.63, 0.00
              "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

              by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:56:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are pointing to a much bigger problem (5+ / 0-)

                than what seems to be the initial topic of this diary. My comments on the positive good the CFPB is doing in the realm of student loans was in response to what I understood to be a problem of deception by loan consolidators, sucking people in with teaser rates but not making clear those rates and associated monthly payments were going to skyrocket. I agree that there us a much larger problem with ever increasing tuition rates, putting a debt free education out of reach of all but the wealthy. It's unconscionable.

                "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

                by Involuntary Exile on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:18:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Nobody, you are right. I want every American (4+ / 0-)

                to have access to the career they want, and if they need college for that, so be it.

                But I would have a damn hard time recommending anybody go into medicine at this point, unless they were independently wealthy.

                "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

                by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:48:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Not how consolidation works (3+ / 0-)

              When you consolidate all the loans are consolidated at the rate of the highest rate loan you have.

          •  EXACTLY. This is the biggest pile of BS in (19+ / 0-)

            our educational culture.

            Before you go to college, if you're from a disadvantaged family, they tell you "You have to go to college if you want half a chance of avoiding the same poverty your parents lived with."

            Well, they don't have the money to fund you. But you can take out a loan. But you're not exactly flush. You have the limited set of loan options the college gives you, and they all have the same terms. It's as tough to "shop around" for colleges as it is for loans if you're underprivileged.

            So you sign the paperwork because, as they all say, you gotta go to college if you can—and you have no other opportunities of note to cling to.

            So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even a double major with honors and a great GPA). You get out to the job market. You find that the college degree doesn't open many more doors.

            "For that," they say, "you'll need a masters degree. That's where the careers really kick in." And your student loans are now coming due. And you have no way to pay them. So you take the advice—and go to grad school—where you'll (presumably) open up career doors and get to defer those loans.

            Only you have no money. So you've got to take out more loans. And once again, there's not much in the way of "shopping terms" available to you. The terms are all basically the same. Want to go? You've got to sign. And you'd better go, because your bachelors degree didn't get you a job and your loans are coming due.

            So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even with a perfect GPA and honors again) and now you get out there and hit the job market. Sure, there are more opportunities than before—now you can at least get hired—but you're starting entry-level. The salary isn't enough to cover the loan payments and pay your bills at the same time. What choices do you have?

            1) Consolidate
            2) Go back to grad school and get a Ph.D. (and get to defer your loans in the process)

            Choose 1 — and you don't get to shop around. Once again, it's not as if you can "choose terms you like" because anything actually on offer is substantively the same. It's either sign (and be able to make your monthly payment right now) or don't (and either have to starve/go broke/destroy your credit rating, or go get a Ph.D. so that you can defer some more).

            Choose 2 — and it's wash, rinse, repeat. More loans on top of the loans that you already have. Maybe your stipend pays for most things, but it sure as hell doesn't cover everything that you practically need to do the full time job of getting a Ph.D. while paying your bills on the side.

            And if you Choose 2, when you finish the Ph.D. you're right back where you started—now you've got three piles of loans, all from an assortment of lenders, with monthly payments that add up to a huge pile. Yet you're fresh out of school (even if it's Ph.D. level) in a very narrow job market (demand for Ph.D. level people is very low) and set to earn what sounds like a lot, if you can get a job—but only until you look at all of those loan payments, at which point you realize you're no farther ahead than you were after undergrad.

            And once again, you get to choose between "sign" and "don't sign" for consolidation. There's no more school to do, no more deferments to be had.

            And wherever you stop (before bachelors, after bachelors, after masters, after phd, after any instance of consolidation), a bunch of idiot Americans will blame you for having "made those choices" or "agreed to those terms," as though you had a whole host of other choices or your pick of the terms out there on the open market.

            A more honest answer from all of society would be:

            "You were born poor. Sorry. There's no way to get ahead. You will always be poor no matter what you do. But you do have one choice: stay poor and do nothing, or work hard for decades at education, do something, but be every bit as poor (that part won't change) and infinitely more stressed out."

            That's really the "choice" available to anyone not born into the upper middle class, and to anyone born poor in particular. Between:

            - Low-stress life of idle poverty
            - High-strees, busy life of poverty but with "accomplishments"

            The problem is that this choice is never presented clearly, in these terms. All of the discourse is about economic outcomes—and implies that they have something to do with education and choices.

            They don't.

            Born poor, stay poor. That's it. Period.

            It would be more honest and less wantonly fraudulent of us as a society if we just told this to people up front before we ask them to "sign," rather than promising rewards as a result of the signature.

            The signature doesn't bring financial rewards; it brings financial ruin. In our educational system, you're paying with your ultimate financial ruin for the chance to do something more than be the "idle" poor.

            That's all.

            -9.63, 0.00
            "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

            by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:48:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattc129, chimene, Farugia, MGross, erush1345
              So you sign and go. You get your degree (maybe even a double major with honors and a great GPA). You get out to the job market. You find that the college degree doesn't open many more doors.
              The major area is critically important. You do see unemployed mechanical/electrical/chemistry people, but not many of them.

              Taking out large student loans for a liberal arts degree is a bad idea. People will tell you that you can "think outside the box" and "be well rounded" and similar horseshit but they are probably wrong and while there are exceptions betting your professional life that you'll be one of them is not what you want to be doing. "Marketable skills" is the name of the game in our world of experts and specialists.

              Rule of thumb: major in whatever everyone else thinks is too difficult.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:20:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed. Hard to talk about without accusations of (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, chimene, erush1345

                being blunt and harsh, but major choice matters. I'm a front-end developer, and with today's tech boom I get at least one cold-email from a recruiter trying to hire me away. I ignore all of them because I love my job and believe in the company's growth. But the fact is if I needed to find a job I probably could within 2 weeks. I attribute that to 1) having an in-demand job, 2) knowing at least 5 industry people to reach out to, and 3) living in NYC.

                Also, another blunt reality is college choice does matter. I know that the price of college is ridiculous, but paying $55–60,000 for NYU or Boston University (where I went) is lightyears better than paying the same to go to Marist or Lehigh. Sorry, it just is. Anyone who pays that much to go to these small-ish Mid-Atlantic schools is setting themselves up for a lifetime of debt. They attract wealthy NJ/NY/CT/MA high schoolers who couldn't get into better schools.

                •  Really (8+ / 0-)

                  This kind of comment irritates me to no end.

                  You think that you can find another job within 2 weeks? How old are you? I think that I am hearing the arrogance of youth. Not to say that I wasn't there myself once.

                   I am a developer who got laid off, spent several months looking for a job before I gave up and started my own software company. If you don't think that there are 200+ people out there applying for every single developer job, you are kidding yourself.  

                  It's easier for younger, cheaper, less experienced (especially if you are a foreign worker) people to get work than it is for older, more experienced and expensive people to get work.

                  When I first started working, you got hired by a company for your programming skills. They then sent you out for training in whatever languages or technology they needed you to know. Now, people need to keep up with all of the latest technologies. Older developers, who worked at the same company for years and years frequently did not do that because we were led to expect a different reality than the one that presents itself to us today.

                  "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                  by resa on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:46:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm 27, so I understand right now I am immune (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk, chimene, erush1345

                    to age discrimination. That's an unfair privilege to have, and I acknowledge that.

                    But regarding keeping up with engineering best practices, I think the onus is on the employee. For example, a relatively new practice in front-end development is called responsive web design. That's a technique where a website's content adapts to device size and type, all using a single code base. Two years ago, I didn't have the skills to do responsive work, so I taught myself. Without that new knowledge, I'd be at a considerable disadvantage, if not unemployable in my field.

                    Yes, there are developer jobs that try and find someone who doesn't exist: the pixel-perfect front-end developer who also knows the ins and outs of MySQL and other database work. That person is so rare and probably isn't as good as a specialist in each field.

                    I agree there are uncontrollable circumstances for software engineers, especially age discrimination. But when it comes to personal skill set, that's up to the individual to maintain and refine. It's exhausting but necessary.

                    •  Employers used to send employees for training (0+ / 0-)

                      To help them keep their skills up to date (on company time, with company money).

                      When companies were run for the long-term, investing in employees to ensure that their skills were top-notch, and to grow their loyalty was important.

                      It's a shame you are entering the market when you no longer have any value to the an employer, and where the only way to remain employable is to sacrifice personal time and money (though there are lots of great online resources for some of the skills you need) to gain the necessary skills.

                      •  Too bad I didn't see this (0+ / 0-)

                        in time to rec it. Exactly so.

                        Then again, I have kept up with technology. It's extremely difficult in this day and age. You have to choose which technology to keep up with and hope that it's the one that wins in the end.

                        "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                        by resa on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:27:47 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Once again, arrogance. (0+ / 0-)

                      It's extremely difficult in this day and age. You have to choose which technology to keep up with and hope that it's the one that holds out long enough for you to have 5 years of experience for your next job.

                      I happen to do responsive web design now. I have my own business.

                      It's oh so easy to criticize others when you haven't been there yet. Stop it.

                      "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                      by resa on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 12:29:43 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  And I have a math LD (3+ / 0-)

                  Majored in English and philosophy because that's where my abilities are.  Worked at useful endeavors for a lot of years before retiring -- with student loan debt.

                  Believe it or not, we can't and shouldn't all be technicians.

                  But you damn well can't have a functioning democracy without people who understand literature, history, political theory, and that the world is more than a system of systems within systems.

                  Sorry to be rude, but one tires of hearing how stupid one is for not being an engineer/tech savant/brain scientist.

                  Some of us just aren't wired that lucky.

                  •  We need educated people PERIOD (0+ / 0-)

                    or, like someone said up above, we'll all be flipping burgers for the pizza makers and vice versa.

                    For a country to be strong, we need educated people - not just trained people.  They are sometimes two very different things.

                    It is sad that the importance of studying, researching and sharing knowledge of math, english, history, art, civics and other disciplines has to be defended and explained.

                    BTW - I have an architecture degree.  I am a licensed professional, and believe me, it is no easy profession to maintain.  Licensure, continuing ed, insurance, etc...  And we DO NOT make a lot of money.  Some do - but it's kinda like music or acting.  You have your super stars, you have your folks that manage to get by (me) and then you have your starving artists.  The crash decimated my profession.  In 2009, architecture unemployment in San Diego was over 60% - not including self-employed people like me who were out of work.  Dozens of mid size firms were lost.  So, no lectures on "what is the right kind of degree"....  The right kind is what you're good at; fine, you realize that you'll make less money as a poet than as a software engineer.  But with a degree you should at LEAST be able to live comfortably middle class...

                    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                    by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:12:19 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      La Gitane, nextstep
                      The right kind is what you're good at; fine, you realize that you'll make less money as a poet than as a software engineer.  But with a degree you should at LEAST be able to live comfortably middle class...
                      "Should be".

                      Your degree and work experience is worth precisely whatever someone else is willing to pay you. That's simply the harsh reality here. The above statement will be very cold comfort when you are unemployed or working a job you hate with your poetry degree.

                      It is sad that the importance of studying, researching and sharing knowledge of math, english, history, art, civics and other disciplines has to be defended and explained.
                      The fact that we need these things is not in doubt. However, they can be taught in parallel with vocational training instead of as a replacement for it.

                      Additionally, I don't think we should have zero liberal arts majors, just that there are currently far too many of them. The market tends to agree with me.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:55:01 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I won't disagree (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Sparhawk

                        Maybe poet was a bit too extreme... But there are plenty of non-LA degrees which reasonable people would think could garner a decent living that don't.

                        Part of it is the shitty state of the economy, and there are plenty of diaries on that, but a big part too is having to start out your life mired in stifling debt. It's like a race - you're favored to place in the top ten, but you have a ball and chain around your ankle when the gun goes off.

                        But in general I do agree with you, Sparhawk. Thanks for your comments!

                        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

                        by La Gitane on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:28:04 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah - they say that now (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                radical simplicity

                But 10 years ago, they were saying the opposite. Without a college degree, you get nowhere.

                "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

                by resa on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:38:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Obviously (4+ / 0-)

                not everyone can become an engineer. Not everyone has the abilities required, not everyone likes it, and more importantly, if everyone majored in the same few fields there would be a huge glut of people looking for jobs. Like there is now for recent law school grads, many of whom will never find work as lawyers.

                I don't know what the answer is for people who are not mathematically or technically inclined, but it certainly isn't telling them to all become engineers.

                And predictions about where the jobs are going to be ten years out are very often wrong. Lots and lots of people prepared for jobs that were supposed to be plentiful only to find out that they weren't.

                •  This is what happened in IT. (6+ / 0-)

                  Everyone was told not so very long ago that IT was the hottest field going, endlessly employable.

                  A decade later, we hat a glut of bog-standard associates-and-bachelors-level IT people that couldn't get jobs that paid well or couldn't get jobs at all because of the labor surplus.

                  People routinely mistake the choices they've made for objectively correct choices just because those choices happened to pay off.

                  Others know that history isn't so kind as to give us a set of choices that have "objectively right" and "objectively wrong" answers at the time.

                  -9.63, 0.00
                  "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                  by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:17:42 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Nothing is certain (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mattc129, erush1345

                    However, that's not a reason to take a major that's known today to be economically low-value.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 04:48:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Two of the best paid people I know (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      La Gitane

                      Were philosophy majors. Some of the people I know who have had the least luck finding jobs are engineers. Your confirmation bias is showing.

                      •  "Two of" "Some of" (0+ / 0-)

                        Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

                        There will always be outliers as I specifically noted in my post.

                        Doesn't mean that a person just starting out should bet on being one.

                        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                        by Sparhawk on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:19:44 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  You're basically arguing for a market timing (0+ / 0-)

                      strategy with education as the asset.

                      This is a documentably a less productive strategy for investors working in small asset quantities/values (in this case a single education, a couple of degrees).

                      Buy high, sell low. Some will profit, many others will be left high and dry. Don't assume that because you're lucky enough to be in the former camp, nobody will be in the latter.

                      There was always a need for tailors—until there wasn't. The labor market changes, more than people like to admit. Survey the 20th century (say, 1900-2000) and look at the vast changes in demand for labor of all types.

                      -9.63, 0.00
                      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                      by nobody at all on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 07:18:03 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  You paint with too broad a brush (4+ / 0-)

                I've come across so many folks in my time with bull*** degrees, highly specialized "career" degrees where the person was so narrowly focused it hindered their critical thinking skills required for their job.  OTOH smart folks from good schools excel in financial management/analyst positions regardless of the major. Seriously.

                Skills? If I had a dime for everyone certified out to the ying-yang that were worthless on the job.

                And sadly there are a ton of very difficult degrees that do not guarantee a stable career path.  We've devastated funding for scientific research, so much for pushing folks to major in STEM.  

                Heck I remember being a young pup majoring in Geology in the mid 80s as the price of oil plummeted along with any good career prospects for geologists as the oil companies shut down their exploration divisions.  Whoops had to change gears in college, fortunately for me the timing of it was such that I was only a sophomore.  Would have been really bad if I was a senior.

            •  True story with only one answer: LBJ (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              for the USA!

              Once upon a time, with a teacher in the White House, things were different.

              I'm from Johnson City.

              by Al Fondy on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:37:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not all teachers in the White House were (0+ / 0-)

                that helpful.  I have in mind a certain second grade teacher who then became a librarian.

                We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

                by NoMoJoe on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 05:08:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  You don't even have to be poor (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Farugia, La Gitane

              Just un-wealthy. If your family can afford to dish out 50k per year for you to go to school debt-free, then you're probably well above middle-class.

      •  Almost like you're forced to consolidate (9+ / 0-)

        since the separate loan payments added up to so much. Plus the work involved of keeping track of it all. One loan paid a single cent under causes a massive freakout on their part. Meh.

        When I left college in 2009, we all had to go through loan exit counseling where they explicitly told us not to consolidate because you lose the new graduate grace period, among other things. Also, I only had to make 2 payments, and both were federal loans. No experience with private loans, but it doesn't surprise me that they'd structure it in a confusing and unapproachable way.

        •  bingo. Thank you for understanding (8+ / 0-)

          Consolidation is not only to lower your payments - it's also to make them more manageable.

          That's why I don't agree with the comparisons with car loans or mortgages, or even credit cards.  It's one loan, one term, one bill.

          When your choice is either to consolidate or default, you really don't have a choice.  It's a gun to your head, a captive market for Wall Street, and they knew it.

          And they certainly didn't mind setting me up with deferments and forebearances....  it gave them the opportunity to make even more money.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:07:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for writing this diary. (12+ / 0-)

            It's painful to admit to others that the system has gotten the better of us, at least for the time being.  But when people like you write about your experiences, untold numbers of others say, "Wow!  They got screwed just like me.  I'm not alone."

            I don't think you need to apologize or to keep insisting you want to pay these loans back.  You weren't borrowing this money to buy a Lexus or go snowboarding at Vail.  You were doing what society told you was necessary both for your good and society's benefit.

            That's really the point.  You should never have had to borrow so much to get an education.  That is a social responsibility to educate its people.

            What is really required are not little reforms here and there, but a debtors' strike.  That means that those who can't pay respond to these bloodsuckers with a hearty "Fuck you."  It means that those debtors who are struggling to pay--ruining their health and their family's emotional welfare by working multiple jobs, defering medical care, etc.--need to say "Fuck you.  I'm not your debt slave anymore."  It means that those affluent enough to make their payments without hardship need to stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers and say "Fuck you" to the bloodsuckers.

            The debt strike should continue until a Jubilee is declared on all students loans combined with a commitment to publicly funded education as is the case in more civilized countries.

            •  Thank you!!!!! (11+ / 0-)

              That is exactly my plan.  My credit is completely fucked anyways, and like I said, I own nothing.

              I'm self employed, so there are no tax returns or wages to garnish.

              My car is mine, but it's 10 years old.

              So I have no problem saying fuck you, you get nothing, until you can play nice.  I didn't borrow money from the Sopranos.

              I figure that by the time my balance hits half a million (which at this rate, should be some time in the next two years), I can go before a judge and let them decide.

              Borrow $27,000, pay back $12,000, but I owe $500K???  Really??  We'll see....

              "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

              by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:51:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You have no idea (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              how many former students I talk to regularly, who tell me they've been thinking along these lines.

              What is really required are not little reforms here and there, but a debtors' strike.  That means that those who can't pay respond to these bloodsuckers with a hearty "Fuck you."  It means that those debtors who are struggling to pay--ruining their health and their family's emotional welfare by working multiple jobs, defering medical care, etc.--need to say "Fuck you.  I'm not your debt slave anymore."  It means that those affluent enough to make their payments without hardship need to stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers and say "Fuck you" to the bloodsucker

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:49:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not only this, but the rate of loan selloffs (8+ / 0-)

          is astronomical.

          I have ex-students that finished undergrad with loans from four different vendors, all while at the same school.

          And after that, they've gone through twice as many again as loans are sold and re-sold and re-sold. I had one that I'm still in contact with for professional reasons come to ask me jokingly who was holding his loan; in the same month he had received balances due from three different vendors for the same loan balance

          The paperwork inside the lenders wasn't keeping up with the sell-offs; two of them didn't even realize they had sold the loan yet—the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing.

          Try keeping up with that, times four, or times six for the multiple lenders that you can end up with after college.

          The whole system is designed to drive people into bankruptcy and take their stuff. Nothing more, nothing less.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:59:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The above scenario has definitely complicated (5+ / 0-)

            by loan balances, and it ups them as each company added their own interest, etc - and there is NO easy way to keep on top of it.  

            I have every confidence that at least $15,000 of my loans is pure bullshit screwup.  But I have zero way to prove it, in spite of having every single bit of loan paperwork every given or sent to me.

            It's just ... unbelievable.

            Would I become a veterinarian again in the face of destroying my future financial stability?  Probably not.  

            Oh, btw, my "you have a great profession, you can work for yourself or someone else, you'll ALWAYS be employed" safety thoughts about my choice of career now sees the suffering of the past 6 years of graduates, where there is a massive overage of veterinarians now (don't graduate during a recession when people don't give their pets vet care as they can't afford it)  ... many, many are on unemployment, or have quit the profession to pay the bills.  But their professional school student loans remain.

            "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

            by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:58:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  This sucks. (45+ / 0-)

    What's really sickening is that the lenders can charge you large sums of interest and penalties while never having to worry about you filing for bankruptcy protection.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:37:06 AM PST

    •  I believe that President Obama has gotten (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, radical simplicity, La Gitane

      student loan rules changed (for new borrowers), where if you haven't been able to pay off your loans in 10 years, they are dissolved.

      Is that true?  Was it passed, or not, anybody know?

      "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

      by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:59:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really have to try to work (29+ / 0-)

    this has got me so pissed off, but I have a web meeting in an hour (!!)

    I'll be back later....  BTW - tweeted this to Senator Warren...

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:40:09 AM PST

  •  Here is an idea that will blow their mind. (17+ / 0-)
    You can get a doctor to sign off on the loan claiming that you are not responsible for the loan do to a disability. It worked for me many years ago, and I am trying to do it with my wife's current student loan. The kicker here is most doctors will do this to help you out if it effects your health in any way.
    •  "total" disability (9+ / 0-)
      How Do I Show That I’m Totally And Permanently Disabled?

      You can show that you are totally and permanently disabled in one of the following three ways:

      1 – If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability;

      2 – If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination; or

      3 – You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that:
      •Can be expected to result in death;
      •Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or
      •Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

      Each option for showing that you are totally and permanently disabled has specific requirements for the supporting documentation that you must submit with your TPD discharge application.

      http://www.disabilitydischarge.com/...
      3 - Physician Certification:

      Alternatively, to show that you are totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge, you may submit the TPD discharge application with a certification from a physician that shows you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that (1) can be expected to result in death; (2) has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or (3) can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

      “Substantial gainful activity” is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical and/or mental activities.

      Actions to Take:
      •Complete sections 1 through 3 of the TPD discharge application
      •Have a physician who is a licensed doctor of medicine or osteopathy fully complete Section 4 of the application
      •Return the completed application to the address provided below within 90 days of the date that your physician signed the TPD discharge application

      http://www.disabilitydischarge.com/...

      Some people can be totally stressed out and unable to function economically.

  •  You have options (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, whenwego, Terre, La Gitane, JerryNA

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 09:47:16 AM PST

  •  If you live in San Diego (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, blueoasis, radical simplicity

    and born in (stolen) territory considered Mexican by the Mexican government you might be able to earn your income in Mexico, outside of US jurisdiction.

    You might work for say a boyfriend, who might officially pay you the Mexican minimum wage of about $5/day.

    •  Stolen Territory (2+ / 0-)

      Can Mexicans earn their income in Aztec territory stolen by Spain and so owe only what the Aztecs tax them?

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:44:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is the Treay of Guadalupe Hidalgo (0+ / 0-)
        The boundary line between the two Republics shall commence in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, otherwise called Rio Bravo del Norte, or Opposite the mouth of its deepest branch, if it should have more than one branch emptying directly into the sea; from thence up the middle of that river, following the deepest channel, where it has more than one, to the point where it strikes the southern boundary of New Mexico; thence, westwardly, along the whole southern boundary of New Mexico (which runs north of the town called Paso) to its western termination; thence, northward, along the western line of New Mexico, until it intersects the first branch of the river Gila; (or if it should not intersect any branch of that river, then to the point on the said line nearest to such branch, and thence in a direct line to the same); thence down the middle of the said branch and of the said river, until it empties into the Rio Colorado; thence across the Rio Colorado, following the division line between Upper and Lower California, to the Pacific Ocean.
        http://www.mexica.net/...

        There are many Mexicans that are very unhappy with the loss of territory by force of arms of the United States.

        •  TS. -eom- (0+ / 0-)

          "Life is the crummiest book I ever read - there isn't a hook, just a lot of cheap shots, pictures to shock, and characters an amateur would never dream up." - Bad Religion

          by TheOrchid on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:55:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No Aztec Treaty (0+ / 0-)

          So what? There were many more Aztecs very unhappy with the loss of their territory by force of arms of Spain. And the loss of their lives, emperor, civilization, etc. Are these unhappy Mexicans giving Mexico back to the Aztecs first?

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:17:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  There are state garnishment laws (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, cazcee, kyril, rbird, mumtaznepal, peptabysmal
    United States Code Title 15 1673 (a) limits a creditor's ability to collect from wages to no more than 25 percent of an employee's disposable earnings. The amount that remains after the withholding order deductions must not be less than 30 times the federal minimum wage rate. CCP Section 706.050 is in compliance with the federal statute.

    CCP Section 706.051 allows an employee to seek to declare a greater portion of their disposable earnings as exempt from levy if the additional amount is necessary for the debtor's day-to-day sustenance. The request for an additional exemption will be considered if the debt was not incurred for prior day-to-day sustenance needs, the debt is not owed for personal services by a current or former employee or the amount is not for support.

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/...
  •  There is also a 25-year income based repayment (11+ / 0-)

    program.

    This is normally for those with dim income prospects in the long-term.

    It should be invoked within at most a few years after graduating since the 25-year clock starts ticking only after program entry.

    Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is designed to reduce monthly payments to assist with making your student loan debt manageable. If you need to make lower monthly payments, this plan may be for you.

    To qualify for IBR, you must have a partial financial hardship. You have a partial financial hardship if the monthly amount you would be required to pay on your IBR-eligible federal student loans under a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan is higher than the monthly amount you would be required to repay under IBR. Your payment amount may increase or decrease each year based on your income and family size. Once you've initially qualified for IBR, you may continue to make payments under the plan even if you later no longer have a partial financial hardship.

    Eligible Federal Loans

    The following loans from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program are eligible for IBR:
    Direct Subsidized Loans
    Direct Unsubsidized Loans
    Direct PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
    Direct Consolidation Loans without underlying PLUS loans made to parents
    Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
    Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
    FFEL PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students
    FFEL Consolidation Loans without underlying PLUS loans made to parents

    Loans That Are Not Eligible

    The following loans are not eligibile for repayment under IBR:
    PLUS loans made to parents
    Consolidation Loans that include underlying PLUS loans made to parents
    Private education loans

    Monthly Payments

    Under this plan, your monthly payments are
    based on your income and family size;
    adjusted each year, based on changes to your annual income and family size;
    usually lower than they are under other plans;
    never more than the 10-year standard repayment amount; and
    made over a period of 25 years.

    Advantages of IBR
    Pay based on what you earn—Under IBR, your monthly payment amount will be 15 percent of your discretionary income, will never be more than the amount you would be required to pay under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, and may be less than under other repayment plans.
    Interest payment benefit—If your monthly IBR payment amount doesn’t cover the interest that accrues (accumulates) on your loans each month, the government will pay your unpaid accrued interest on your Direct Subsidized Loans or Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans (and on the subsidized portion of your Direct or FFEL Consolidation Loans) for up to three consecutive years from the date you began repaying your loan under IBR.
    Limitation on the capitalization of interest—While you have a partial financial hardship, interest that accrues but is not covered by your loan payments will not be capitalized, even if interest accrues during a deferment or forbearance.
    25-year forgiveness—If you repay under IBR and meet certain other requirements, any remaining balance will be forgiven after 25 years of qualifying repayment.
    10-year public service loan forgiveness—If, while you are employed full-time for a public service organization, you make 120 on-time, full monthly payments under IBR (or certain other repayment plans) you may be eligible to receive forgiveness of the remaining balance of your Direct Loans through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

    Disadvantages of IBR
    You may pay more interest—A reduced monthly payment in IBR generally means you’ll be repaying your loan for a longer period of time, so you may pay more total interest over the life of the loan than you would under other repayment plans.
    You must submit annual documentation—To set your payment amount each year, your loan servicer, the organization that handles billing and other services for your loan, needs updated information about your income and family size. You must provide the documentation or your monthly payment amount will be changed to the amount you would be required to pay under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, based on the amount you owed when you began repaying under IBR, and will no longer be based on your income. This amount will be higher than your prior IBR payment that was based on your income. If you do not provide the required income documentation, unpaid interest will also capitalize.
    You may have to pay taxes on any loan amount that is forgiven after 25 years.

    http://studentaid.ed.gov/...

    Remember, this is a program that very few people should choose to use.

    •  Thanks for this (3+ / 0-)

      it might be something I'm interested in.

      Although, since I'm 45, I'm still repaying it until I'm 70....  so my debt to income ratio would still be ridiculous for almost the rest of my life....

      But I will look into it.  If I can get the balance down, even to what it was before the crash, this would be doable.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:14:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I went back to school at 40 (4+ / 0-)

        and became an RN in 2008.

        There is a program that is income based, that allows you to pay for 10 years, with the balance forgiven if you are in some form of public service, such as RN, teacher, social worker, etc.

        http://studentaid.ed.gov/...

        What kinds of employment qualify?
        Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a not-for-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The type or nature of employment with the organization does not matter for PSLF purposes. Additionally, the type of services that these public service organizations provide does not matter for PSLF purposes.

        A private not-for-profit employer that is not a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC may be a qualifying public service organization if it provides certain specified public services. These services include emergency management, military service, public safety, or law enforcement services; public health services; public education or public library services; school library and other school-based services; public interest law services; early childhood education; public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. The organization must not be a labor union or a partisan political organization.

        The kingdom of heaven is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

        by MasonMcD on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:02:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm 42 and doing this. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Gitane, radical simplicity

      It wasn't available before recently and I have alternately paid and deferred when necessary.

      Still, by the time I am ready for retirement (ha!), the balance will go bye-bye.  And if my yearly income doesn't increase, that will be a LOT of $.

      This is a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders, because I was otherwise looking at owing many hundreds per month on my loans well into my 80s.

  •  Government contractor loan sharks (18+ / 0-)

    fits right in with Sandy relief shake downs.

    Sounds we are becoming a  mob-ocracy.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:02:17 AM PST

  •  A few people have emigrated (6+ / 0-)

    One Kossack lives in the Ukraine.

    This comment is merely to inform people.

    •  I'm lobbying hard (0+ / 0-)

      for my kids to go to college in another country. I almost don't care which country they choose, as long as the tuition is reasonable for international students. I'd rather pay $7k or so per child per year out of pocket (or maybe home equity, if we have to), than send them into their futures with this kind of insurmountable debt hanging over their heads.

  •  Obviously a cap of say 125% of the borrowed (16+ / 0-)

    amount should be placed on balances.

    My bank is paying me less than 1% on much of my money.

    It would take well over 25 years to earn 25% on deposited money with bank CD interest rates well under 1%.

    •  Obviously Washington is f*cking over students. (7+ / 0-)

      That nothing is being done to correct this tells you all you need to know. That under Obama the government has taken in over $55 BILLION in profits from student loans tells you all you need to know.

      This situation is despicable. Anyone who has ever had a student loan needs to write their Senator and Congressman and let them know that unless they sign on and vote for a bill to end these practices they will not get your vote, and ask every family member and friend you have to do the same.

      •  Obama took those loans BACK from the banks (0+ / 0-)

        It was the Bush administration that passed the laws that did this. The $55 billion from the loans taken back from the private lenders who were charging as much as 18% interest on student loans, jacking the rates sky high after having lured students in with low teaser rates - all thanks to laws passed by the Bush admin to give them the ability to make student loans without controls over the interest rates. Banks can no longer offer student loans. The only remaining pathway for them to get their hooks into people is through debt consolidation loans. That needs to be ended as well.

    •  Then nobody would pay back their loans. (6+ / 0-)

      You'd borrow, say, $40,000, and be guaranteed never to owe more than $50,000.  Once you've reached that cap, you'd essentially have an interest free loan for forever.  There's no financial advantage in paying off such a loan, so nobody would make payments.

      •  Of course there's incentive: (5+ / 0-)

        to keep your credit.

        When you make payments and see your balance go down, that is incentive to pay it back.

        When you pay, and pay and pay, and see your balance go up instead of down, it kinda knocks the wind out of your desire to pay it off.

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:28:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nah (0+ / 0-)

          "free money in my pocket today" > "good credit that I might need tomorrow", for many if not most.  There are far better ways to structure a higher education subsidy.

          •  Have you ever tried to file for bankruptcy? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            It's no cake walk. You are not allowed to keep more than a minimum level of assets. Here in VT, they actually limit the number of chickens you're allowed to keep, the amount of firewood you can have on hand, etc.

            If you think bankruptcy is an easy out for anyone, you're sadly misinformed.

            From the list of what you're allowed to keep in VT if you file bankruptcy:
            Real property or mobile home to $75,000; may also claim rents, issues, profits & out-buildings.

            Various disability & insurance benefits, up to certain limits.

            1 Cow, 2 goats, 10 sheep, 10 chickens; 3 swarms of bees & their honey; feed to last 1 winter; 10 cords of firewood, 5 tons of coal or 500 gallons of oil; 500 gallons of bottled gas; growing crops to $5000; 2 harnesses, 2 halters, 2 chains, plow & ox yoke; yoke of oxen or steers & 2 horses

            Appliances, furnishings, goods, clothing, books, crops, animals, musical instruments to $2,500 total.

            Motor vehicles to $2500
            ...

            Think about it - do you know of anyplace in the country where you can get a house for $75k or less? Even a trailer around here goes for $90k or above.

            If you added up all your furniture, clothing, books, crops (it's a farming state) and appliances. Are they worth more than $2500? Which ones will you have to eliminate to get under the limit?

            Have you tried to find a car for under $2500? I have. The word "junker" is the best descriptor. We've had several.

            How long do you think a single 500 gallon tank of oil lasts in a VT winter? (Hint: not a month for most homes.)

            Bankruptcy is painted by the propagandists in the press as some kind of miracle panacea for the wanton spendthrift. What it really is:

            A very difficult choice people make when they are so desperate that giving up just about everything is the best option available to them.

      •  Wouldn't that be wonderful! (0+ / 0-)

        "Then nobody would pay back their loans"

        That would be great if we could get that kind of solidarity.

        What we need is a debtors' strike.  Student loans are the obvious place to start.  Those who borrowed received no hedonistic benefit in return.  (Well, not directly.  I had my share of fun in college.)  In fact, they were doing exactly what society recommended demanded of them, and what most other similary "advanced" societies provide for free.

        As for those who would bitch that "I paid mine; he should have to pay his," my response is that the payers get the benefit of living in a much more human society.

  •  Discharge in Bankruptcy (19+ / 0-)
    This is not an automatic process—you must prove to the bankruptcy court that repaying your student loan would cause undue hardship.

    If you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have your loan discharged in bankruptcy only if the bankruptcy court finds that repayment would impose undue hardship on you and your dependents. This must be decided in an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court. Your creditors may be present to challenge the request. The court uses this three-part test to determine hardship:
    If you are forced to repay the loan, you would not be able to maintain a minimal standard of living.
    There is evidence that this hardship will continue for a significant portion of the loan repayment period.
    You made good-faith efforts to repay the loan before filing bankruptcy (usually this means you have been in repayment for a minimum of five years).

    Your loan will not be discharged if you are unable to satisfy any one of the three requirements. If your loan is discharged, you will not have to repay any portion of your loan, and all collection activity will stop. You also will regain eligibility for federal student aid if you had previously lost it.
    http://studentaid.ed.gov/...
  •  Many attorneys offer a 15-minute chat (3+ / 0-)

    at no charge.

    You may wish to have a chat with a lawyer.

    Ask if they have experience in student loan bankruptcy or student loan disability discharge.

  •  I recently assisted someone to dispute a student (28+ / 0-)

    loan debt.  We wrote a letter asking the collection agency to provide documents proving that there was actually a loan taken out and also that they had documents proving that they owned the loan.

    Like the more newsworthy mortgage scams, and medical debt, when these loans get "sold" to collection agencies over and over, there is less and less documentation available to prove that it is a real debt.

    In our case, we disputed it because we think it actually was a mistake, a loan was issued but refused at the beginning of a semester, but the tuition was actually paid for in cash.

    There were other loans in arrears and they were paid via wage garnisheeing. Then this one popped up out of the blue over a year after the other was completed.  The company did not bother to contact us again.

    This is most effective when a new company contacts you for the first time, ask them to prove that you owe the money by sending copies of original, signed by you, documents.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 10:32:55 AM PST

  •  I got mine in the 80's and 90's (6+ / 0-)

    Like a dumbass I didn't pay for years when I could have paid at least a little.

    Mine are 9% yes, you saw that right 9% (remember when interest rates used to be high.... The interest rate on a student loan is locked and not changeable from what the rate was when you took out the loan. So if you took it out in the high interest 80's you are just screwed.

    My originally borrowed amount was around 30K. By the time I really started paying on them the balance was about 70K. If I continue paying the $1100 a month I am paying right now I'll actually have them paid off in about 5 years when I am 54.

    Unlike the IRS they can't seize your bank account, but they will keep any tax refunds or other government payments. They will also garnish your social security if you still owe when you hit that age.

  •  It's an unfair system. . . (10+ / 0-)

    I saw this series of tweets last week, in response to the news that Freedom Industries was declaring bankruptcy:

    Corporations and their 'needs' are valued more than those of middle and lower class Americans - and yet the Republicans blame lower income folks for not having the gumption to get an education and get a better (higher paying) job, if those even exist anymore.  

    I just paid off my student loans a year ago - after spending several years working four jobs (which I'm still doing).  It's a good feeling to finally be 'free' but I have so many friends who are still burdened - who won't be able to buy a house or potentially even start a family - until their loans are repaid.  

    I wish you luck!

    “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” ― Winston Churchill

    by emsquared on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:44:01 AM PST

    •  It is, BUT (3+ / 0-)

      I would point out that with a student loan it is "our" money. All of ours. If it doesn't get repaid it's not the creditors of a business that foots the bill, it's the US taxpayer. Doesn't mean we don't need massive reform. Just saying we can''t be too cavalier about just letting people off the hook.

      •  Taxpayers should be footing the bill anyway (11+ / 0-)

        Most countries have free college tuition. It is ridiculous that American students have to take out massive debt in order to get enough education to get a decent job.

        Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

        by Leftleaner on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:58:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We can reform going forward and should (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justanothernyer

          However, the politics of doing something retroactive are not good. I would take it better than most, but even I would be a bit pissed after bearing the burden of repaying my loans then watching other people let off the hook unless they were in VERY dire circumstances.

          •  Please understand (4+ / 0-)

            I'm not asking to be let off the hook.  I borrowed money at 2-3%.  There was no time limit; it was the consolidators who changed the terms and my choices were to consolidate or go into default - I chose to consolidate, but the terms were ridiculous.  This is the first time in 20 years that my loans are actually in default; I always acted in good faith.  I paid when I could, and there were hard times when I couldn't.  But I ALWAYS kept in contact, and made the necessary arrangements.

            Before the crash, I was still paying, and still watching my balance go up, not down.  But I was still paying.

            Since the crash, the hardest financial period of my life, that balance doubled.  So now, while I could afford $200/mo, I don't want to commit to a payment schedule that I know would be the equivalent of throwing money into a black hole.

            So, I'll pay when we can negotiate a more reasonable balance, and a more reasonable pay off schedule.

            "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

            by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:03:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not correct. (8+ / 0-)

            In many cases, the vast majority of what is owed is not principal and so not taxpayer money. It is interest and fees racked up by corporate interlopers.

            Diarist is a case in point. She borrowed 30k. And has paid some of that back. The bankers tacked on an additional 108k. Three-and-a-half times the principal!

            Those fees and usurious interest could be rolled back with little or no affect on the principal (the taxpayer monies) at all.

            "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

            by nosleep4u on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:18:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Jubilee!!! (9+ / 0-)

            Stop with your moralizing about "doing something retroactive" is "not good."

            Even the harsh Iron Age saw the need for a debt Jubilee in which all debts were wiped off the slate every 50 years.

            That this society demands that everyone be educated throughout their lives yet puts nearly all the burden of paying for that education on students and their families is not just immoral--it's suicidal for the society in the long term.

            This corrupt system needs a complete reset, and a debt Jubilee is a good place to start.

            •  And again... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              La Gitane

              Some of the people you royally piss off (people who have or are paying back their loans) will be (after that former) democratic voters.  A restructuring of some kind, some kind of income based repayment that is reasonable absolutely. Just writing it off.... hello a couple decades of republican control of government.

              •  I'm not really into party politics. (0+ / 0-)

                Ds and Rs are about 1 inch apart on a scale that stretches over 10 feet as far as I'm concerned.

                Direct action produces satisfaction as far as I'm concerned.  Let the bought-off politicians try to catch up to what the people are doing.

        •  Basically what's happening here (10+ / 0-)

          instead is that the government winds up paying the private lenders their usurious interest rates, which winds up in the Caymans and the government is left holding the bag.  Just another corporate cash boondoggle.

          Instead, the government could save a helluva lot of money and just pay the tuition directly.  Charge 3% interest on one consolidated loan upon graduation, and cut out the middle man.  The student has an affordable loan that they can actually pay back, the government makes money, and everyone is happy.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:41:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed, BUT (3+ / 0-)

        the federal government is also making $50 billion in profit on student loans, which Elizabeth Warren calls 'obscene'.  

        With that profit margin, allowing for bankruptcies in extreme cases (like that of the diarist) seems fair, especially when corporations can do it (and btw I wonder who will pay for the cleanup and associated medical issues in the WV water contamination case?  Taxpayers?  Freedom Industries?)

        Warren: Profits from student loans are ‘obscene’

        “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” ― Winston Churchill

        by emsquared on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:06:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why should student loans engender any profit for (3+ / 0-)

          the country?   Government-run healthcare doesn't charge extra to make a profit - government-run education shouldn't, either.

          Elizabeth Warren is correct - profit by the Gov is obscene. Especially when our top 20 companies pay crap shit diddly in corporate taxes (taxpayer bailouts of their obligations via "credits")

          "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

          by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 03:18:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Once this was aid to colleges and universities (5+ / 0-)

        There was a time when public institutions received funding directly from the state which kept tuitions low and more affordable.  The drift away from state supported ed has resulted in the monster that is the student loan industry.
        As rates at state schools skyrocketed so did the costs at private colleges and more and more people needed bigger and bigger loans.
        Sadly, when a graduate does find a job his or her income doesn't go to a car or furniture or other consumer goods which would help invigorate the economy but rather goes back to the financial industry that ruined the economy.  Yes the money needs to be paid back but clearly, as you say, massive reform is needed.

        •  So much better to have debt slaves. (5+ / 0-)

          How often have I heard people ridicule biblical texts because they allowed slavery.

          In the Iron Age, for example 1,000 BCE, debt slavery in the ancient near east was ubiquitous.  "Debt slavery" was when you couldn't pay back your debts and sold either your children, your spouse or yourself into slavery.

          Biblical texts sought to put some limit on that debt slavery.  It couldn't last longer than 7 years (hence the limit on "indentured servitude" of 7 years).  In the more progressive Deuteronomy version of the legal system, debt slaves had to be compensated at the end of the 7 year period for the value of their labor, thus giving them a new start.

          We now live in a society more harsh, more inhumane than the Iron Age.  Despite the abundance brought by the technological progress that is the result of the contributions of countless human beings--most of whom remained poor and unknown--we live in a culture where it's acceptable, even promoted as TINA, that people suffer in debt slavery for their entire lives.

          And if possible, these creditor bloodsuckers will throw these debts on our children and dig our bodies out of the ground in hopes that there might be a gold tooth in there somewhere.

          And our legal system will continue to enforce their "rights."

          When your society reaches the level of inhumanity that renders it less advanced than Iron Age cultures, it's pretty bad.

    •  Thank you! nt (0+ / 0-)

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:35:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good luck (5+ / 0-)

    It would be nice to hear someone that got the sharks to renegotiate.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 11:58:47 AM PST

  •  Give me a reason to finish my doctorate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane, kyril, mumtaznepal

    please. I'm half ready to call it quits and go back to working starbucks.

  •  oh but student loan debt is GOOD debt (3+ / 0-)

    NOT.  

    On DailyKos nothing is significant unless Obama doesn't do it.

    by glutz78 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:21:20 PM PST

  •  I actually advised my son (10+ / 0-)

    That he should think long and hard about the skilled trades (plumber, electrician, etc...). A lot of boomers due to retire and a lot of kids think they are "too good" for it. Lot of opportunity in the future. Of course he didn't listen.

  •  You might want to share how your balance doubled (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Josiah Bartlett, La Gitane, Sychotic1

    in (a maximum of) four years.  By my calculations, and assuming you did not take on additional principal, that amounts to a compounded interest rate of 19% per year (at a minimum).

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 12:53:37 PM PST

    •  Fees and penalties. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Gitane, peptabysmal

      These often add up to thousands of dollars.

      Then pile interest on top of that.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:22:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know (6+ / 0-)

      All I have are the statements.

      All my loans were bought back by the government in 2008, and that amount was about $65,000.  I was broke.  One of the first things President Obama did was put a moratorium on student loan payments, if you qualified.  With zero income, I did.

      So, from 2008 until early last year, I was getting statements that would show my balance, but that my payment was "$0.00".  I wasn't in default, but my balance kept skyrocketing.  It was incredible.  So by the time I was back on my feet, I didn't want to make payments because the balance was so ridiculous.

      Last year, the government started contracting out the debt collection, so I was getting calls from a company in Texas.  They stopped bothering me once I asked them to show proof.

      Apparently they gave it back to the government, because this one today only received the account in December.  So, on their books, the only number they have is $138,000.

      It's really, really fucked up.

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:24:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I also asked a studen loan debt collector for (3+ / 0-)

        proof of the loan amounts they say I owe, and they cannot provide it.  I told them they wouldn't get a penny from me.

        "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

        by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:28:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yep (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity

          The woman that I spoke to said several times that this is a conversation she has very often - and she was the manager.

          When you have almost half of student loans in default, that should tell you that the problem is in the system - we're not all a bunch of debt-dodging losers.

          The biggest problem was in the first 5-8 years out of school, when I wasn't making NEARLY enough to make the enormous payments they were expecting.  I could never get ahead - always in catch-up mode.  That is where half of the damage was done; if I could have consolidated under the same terms that I borrowed the money at, and had more time to pay it back, we wouldn't be here. I would have paid it back by now.  

          The other half was the interest that accrued during President Obama's moratorium on loan payments during the crash.  What he failed to mention was that interest and penalties would accrue anyways.  Not like I had any choice - I was on federal housing assistance, LIHEAP and food stamps.

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:38:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What you say is true, and outrageously sad. (3+ / 0-)

            To be saddled with permanent, overwhelming debt - when you are NOT reckless, or casual, and are responsible, etc.

            My student loan payments, consolidated, all loans - which were projected to be paid off in the "normal" 10 year period  after I graduated - were roughly $884 a month.  My first job paid $32,000 a year.  So that amount was impossible to pay back.

            So I immediately qualified for paying a lower "income contingent" amount - which added nearly $20,000 to the value of the loan in 3 years as the unpaid amounts were rolled back into the loan with massive compounding, interest, etc.

            "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

            by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:35:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you are on deferment, the payments you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Gitane

      miss are added back into the loan, and become part of the borrowed funds - with interest payable on it.

      You are essentially "loaned" your monthly payments while on approved deferment (due to poverty, etc)

      I "believe" (from my experience with my own student loans, that match this diarists) how it works.

      "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

      by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:30:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That sounds about right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mumtaznepal, dotdash2u

        Forbearance and deferment are two different things.  Forbearance is when interest doesn't accrue, but you are only allowed so much time to go into forbearance.  After only a couple of years, that option is no longer available.

        And, once the consolidators starting digging in, the deferments became very expensive.....

        "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

        by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:44:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My student loans were taken out in the 1970s. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          La Gitane, radical simplicity

          A flat 3% (I think) straight from the feds.  On forbearance until I graduated with a BSN.  Then it was a single loan covering all 8 semesters.  I started repaying the principal + int. on graduation.  Each mo. I was billed the same amt. to the penny, by the same outfit, over the 10 yrs. it took to pay off.

          Back to school (on forbearance again) for my MSN  and with graduation the payments began again for the exact same amt.  No bullshit, no fees.

          What a freaking disaster the GOP and 'Conservative Revolution' have been for the country.

          Anything you can do to tie these conniving usurers up in their own crap, the more power to you.

  •  Do You Have Dual Citizenship? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane, radical simplicity

    Would you consider applying for citizenship in a country that does allow you to discharge American student loan debt?  If corporations can pick and choose international financial laws in places like the Cayman Islands and Switzerland - - why can't you?  You would need to research the ramifications of this carefully - esp. if you intended to return to the U.S.

    Closest place is Canada -

    Filing for bankruptcy
    Even with assistance from the government, many people still struggle to pay off their debts – including student loans. Filing bankruptcy will discharge you from your student loan debt if you ceased to be a student at least seven years prior to filing.
    http://www.bdodebthelp.ca/...

    But gaining Canadian citizenship isn't easy.

  •  This story is so typical. I borrowed a total of (6+ / 0-)

    $71,000 for undergrad and professional school (while also working 20 hours a week, scholarships, etc).

    It's been 20 years, and now, after I have paid back nearly $30,000, the debt I still owe is ....

    .... $103,000.

    "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

    by mumtaznepal on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 01:26:25 PM PST

  •  They forget to mention this kind of thing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    …when they tell kids that getting an education is vital.

    And they're surprised that college enrollment rates are dropping? You don't need a degree to do the math: student loan debts + no job prospects = a bad deal.

    This is nothing but legalized usury, for the benefit of the financial industry, and the conservative hacks who think students need to 'earn' that education by going into indentured servitude, because "Hey! They'll value it more."

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:10:20 PM PST

  •  Best thing you can do: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotdash2u, peptabysmal, Farugia, La Gitane

    Don't admit to owing money. Make them produce something with your signature on it and a ledger showing the charges and payments on the account in question. Don't ever take someone's word over the phone that you owe something; there are way too many scammers out there. I'm not a lawyer, but the bill collectors are required by law to send verification if requested; if they keep calling you, then you can sue and/or report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. No contract, no signature, no case. Many times, these people purchase debts for a few cents on the dollar and all they have are names and the amount allegedly owed.

  •  What the heck interest rate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia, La Gitane

    did you "agree" to that doubled your debt in 3 years??  That's unbelievable!

  •  Great email, La Gitane. You rock! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotdash2u, La Gitane

    Lots of good advice here - I wouldn't pretend to add anything - just let us know how you're doing with this.

    Suggestion for Facebook: 50 free "starter friends" automatically as soon as you sign up.

    by dov12348 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 02:30:03 PM PST

  •  First thing is to look into the undue hardship (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    claim as as a means of discharging this in bankruptcy.  You can file bankruptcy yourself, don't need an attorney and the forms are online in fillable PDF.  There is also a provision for the waiver of the BK filing fee if you meet the income limits.

  •  Remember that Tumblr "we are the 99 percent" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    that took off when occupy was happening?

    you should start a tumbler of people holding up their student loan debt. have them give the amount they borrowed and the amount they now owe, with a handwritten sign of protest.

    I think it would go viral.

    I hope you consider it.

  •  I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on the internet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    So.

    You NEED to declare bankruptcy and file to discharge this debt.

    When the Federal Bankruptcy court refuses and says it can't be ....

    YOU SUE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT civily in Federal COurt, starting with a motion for permanent injunction from the Federal District court. And go to the US Atty in your jurisdiction and file grand theft  and fraud CRIMINAL charges against the Dept of Education. Do not ask, DEMAND.

    The exemption of student loans from bankruptcy is a blatant violation of your rights under the Constitution, but until someone so victimized fights back and sues and drags it to the Supreme Court, it will never be stopped.

    You could even fire up a Kick-starter or other indie funding operation to obtain funding for the lawyers you need to pay for the effort. I'd bet everyone and his brother with a student loan would kick in 10-25-50 bucks to fund the project.

    But until SOMEONE fights this fight, they will keep screwing million$.

    Way to go OBAMA!!! You're a real champeen of the peoples. I'd give my right arm to confront his ass about this before the State of the Union next week!!

    Too bad no one in the alleged Press has the balls to confront the wizard.

    The clear INTENT of Bankruptcy in the Constitution is being violated

    •  Woo hoo!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      That's a big bite to chew, though... I'm still in recovery mode from the crash... still struggling.  I'm hoping that the recovery will continue to where I was before the crash...

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:39:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Student Loans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    I hope I didn't read too quickly but are all of your loans Federal Loans? Even though you are dealing with an outside collector, you have the right to speak directly with a federal Student Loan rep. Request that information from the collector if it is not on your loan documents. You must also request, in writing, a complete explanation (in writing) of how your bill increased exponentially. Although it is rare, people have been able to file for bankruptcy for their student loans. If all else fails, by doing so, you can have the Bankruptcy Referee negotiate the debt as well as an appropriate repayment plan. Hope this helps a bit?

  •  If it were me, I'd move out of the country. Canada (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia, La Gitane

    maybe. Plus, all other developed countries have decent healthcare.

  •  Thank you for this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    I paid down my student-loan debt last summer after I'd run out of deferments, only with the help of a generous, totally unexpected benefactor. I am now paying this person back in monthly installments, based on what I can afford, at 0% interest.

    If that benefactor hadn't stepped forward when they did, I do not like to think where I'd be today. I am still basically unemployed, more than 3 years after completing the education I had to go into debt to afford. I would making  interest payments on the loan, if that. I would be miserable, and I would be awake nights.

    I'm glad you told your story. Let's make an issue of debt, and lenders' blood money.

    Tipped and recommended.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 04:23:54 PM PST

  •  National Student Loan Data System (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    You can go to the NSLDS website

    http://www.nslds.ed.gov/...

    to access all data regarding your student loans, from the time they were issued to the time the account is closed.

    From the website's FAQ section: "The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid.  It receives data from schools, agencies that guaranty loans, the Direct Loan program, and other U.S. Department of Education programs.  NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants that are tracked through their entire cycle; from aid approval through closure."

    You need to create a 4-digit PIN number (via a link on the main page).  You should be able to access a history of your loans (as recorded by the Dept of Education).  The info may help you to track what happened to your loan(s) over time, and when changes occurred.

    Cheers  

    •  I have done this (0+ / 0-)

      And while my original loans are there ($27,000), and the periods of time that I was in "repayment", the actual amounts of my payments are gone.  No where to be found.

      There are also no terms available for all the consolidations and turnovers....

      "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 08:42:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This sounds like what happens when you owe the IRS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane
  •  Thanks. Great info, Hotlisted. will show my kids. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    Not sure how/if 'hotlist' works & wanted to make sure I can retrieve it later :)

  •  Great diary and interesting comments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    La Gitane

    Thanks for writing this.

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