Came across occupystudentdebt.com. Holy sh*t there are some scary stories on that site. I pulled this one out because this is one of those cases where I think the borrower is just a total moron. What do you guys think?
Well, here it goes. This story is extremely embarrassing but this is the start of my fight to try and do something about it.
In 2000, when I was 18 years old after graduating high school, I started going to a local university to earn a 4 year degree in Elementary Education. My mother worked for the University and I had free tuition for the first 4 years. I was excited for my future, with a lot of hopes and dreams. However, growing up my parents and family always struggled with money. I had no help and was on my own with all other expenses besides tuition. I worked a part time job all throughout college and it was hard for me to keep up with both working and school full time. In 2003, I was diagnosed with pretty bad anxiety...mostly over money issues. My family doctor put me on anxiety medication, "Effexor". I experienced rather strange symptoms from this medication which seemed minor so I didn't think anything of it at first. At the same time I came across advertisement for Sallie Mae. I thought it was a perfect solution for my money troubles. I applied and was approved for a $30,000 loan at an alarming 9.5% interest rate. And I must note I was approved for that loan EVEN though at the time I did have free tuition. But being only 20 years old I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was so happy and excited though because I felt a huge stress relief. The money would help me get through school, buy that computer I needed, pay for my gas, my car payment, etc. It relieved a ton of stress. My intention was only to take out one loan. However being young and stupid, and not knowing a thing about money and finances, that money quickly ran out. I used the money for everything, including clothes, going out to eat, EVERYTHING you name it. And oh how easy it was to just contact Sallie Mae and get one loan right after the other. They kept approving me for loans until after the course of 3 years or so, my loan debt reached a large sum of $120,00!!! As I was taking out all of those loans and spending that money foolishly on all kinds of things...it felt so good. Sallie Mae was my savior. I was able to live the high life I never had growing up because they were there for me to support it.
In 2006 my life turned upside down. I had not graduated yet. I switched majors again due to poor choices I made. But I also started feeling the pressures of having to pay back such a huge loan I wasn't exactly in a rush to graduate. The longer I stayed in school the better I thought because it would give me more time to start paying the loans back. So I decided to take my time to graduate. I even started going to school part time to purposely delay it. And then somewhere in there reality sank in. My nightmare began. Many things happened in my personal life which I won't get into but I tried committing suicide and ended up in a mental hospital for 4 days. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was discovered that the medicine I was taking for anxiety caused me to have manic episodes over the course of all those years (it is embarrassing) That is WHY I racked up all that debt and made very poor choices. I wasn't thinking clearly. My mind was foggy. But regardless of myself being manic or not at the time, it is so easy for any young kid at 18, 19, 20, 21 years old to get themselves in debt. Unless you have parents who really taught you the importance of money and saving, etc., you are naive to the devastating consequences getting yourself into debt can have on your future. It is easy for any young kid who is NOT manic to take out those loans and not understand the implications they will have on the rest of their lives. Personally, I didn't even understand the meaning of "interest". I didn't understand when I signed for those loans that after 6-7 years my initial $120,00 would turn into $250,000. It more than doubled!
Eventually in May of 2011 I finally graduated with a bachelors in criminal justice. I am now a divorced single mother (my large debt load was a major factor in my divorce) clearing $2000 a month on a $34,500 a year income. I am working in retail management because that is all I could find in this economy. I am still searching for better jobs but it's been a challenge. I have a 4 year old daughter. Right now I can barely afford to survive off of what I make. When my $2500 loan payment kicks in this November I don't know what I am going to do. Even making interest only payment my monthly payment will still be $1600 a month. And there is NOTHING I can do to get rid of it. NOTHING. I prey every day that the laws will change so I can declare bankruptcy. I would do it in a heart beat. I am scared for my life and for my daughters life If it wasn't for my daughter I'd rather be dead right now....I feel so hopeless.
I am SOOO angry. I blame Sallie Mae for everything . What they did to me was called predatory lending without a doubt. A 20 year old still in school should NEVER be approved for a $30,00 loan just because they are a student. It's insane. An adult with good established credit has a harder time getting approved for a personal loan of that size. Half of the time I was getting these large loans I was only taking ONE or TWO classes. The tuition being $4000 at most. And at the time I actually thought they were helping me. Now that I am 29 years old I know better and I am disgusted that the government supports these monsters. I know there are so many people out there like me who have similar stories. It's a shame that a grown adult can take out personal loans for $100,00 for house renovations, boats, vacations, you name it and still be able to declare bankruptcy. But people like me can't? At 20 years old you couldn't even drink alcohol but you could take out a $30,000 student loan. And are powerless to do anything about it. Its unbelievable. Makes me sick. And we are the innocent victims paying and suffering for it? Sallie Mae won't do anything to even help out...not even lower interest rates. They don't care that I won't even be able to put food on the table for my daughter.
Right now I have a fantastic lawyer that will be fighting for me if nothing happens this year with the bills trying to be passed. I am crossing my fingers the government will wise up. If not, I am ready to put up a large fight.