March 30th, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Student Loan Nightmare: Help Wanted

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear Randi Kaye talk to Samantha Hillstrom on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/27/art.sam.jpg caption="CNN Production Assistant, Samantha Hillstrom, at her graduation in May 2007."]
Samantha Hillstrom
CNN Production Assistant

I’m about to talk about two little words that make most people cringe. The mere mention of these words usually incites the same reaction in everyone: a) fear b) denial c) a throbbing headache and d) the desire to run away screaming and crying and begging to go to a “happy place.” Yes, I am talking about STUDENT LOANS. If you don’t have one, you know someone who does and you sympathize with them. In the midst of the credit crisis, home foreclosures and bailout turmoil, the amount of debt that graduates are facing is overwhelming.

I am 23-years-old, two years out of college and I am sitting on $115,000 of student debt. And based on my lender's loan terms, I only have roughly 12 years to pay it off. How much does that make my monthly payment, you ask? A whopping $1,200 a month. And let’s just say my lifelong dream career in television doesn’t lend itself to that. The only option my bank is giving me is to go on “graduated repayment plan.” That means that for four years I will only be paying off the interest every month. How much is that? Well, $115,000 with interest rates between 4-8%... that’s about $600 a month and that doesn’t even touch the principal amount. People don’t pay off houses in 12 years and I am expected to pay off this student loan in an entry level position?

Some might say, “Sam, you shouldn’t have gone to a private school in New York City if you wouldn’t be able to pay it off.” Well, I made a lot of mistakes when signing up for my loans, but I was uneducated on the process and on the repayment and now I’m stuck. I share the same anxiety as the families struggling to pay their mortgages. How was I ever to expect the financial crisis that was going to happen and where can I get some help?

And why do I have such a short amount of time to pay off my loans? Because of the current financial crisis. Due to the economic downturn, my lender isn’t consolidating loans. If I were able to consolidate, my repayment time would extend to 30 years…just like a home mortgage. Now that wouldn't necessarily solve the problem, in that I would still owe more than $500 a month with the principal and interest, but it would buy me a bit more time and stretches out the money.

Here is my question: why aren’t student loans receiving the same attention, same care and forgiveness as every other loan in America? I have to say that I am lucky to have a job right now and was especially lucky to get a job right out of college. Can you imagine what kind of pressure and stress the 2009 graduates are feeling in this time of uncertainty? Veterans of the workforce can’t find work right now. What about the recent college grads with no work experience and tens of thousands of dollars of unforgivable debt underneath them?

There is a grain of hope that will come when the Income-Based Repayment Plan, part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, will take effect on July 1. The program will cap off borrower’s monthly payments at 10% of their gross income for 25 years with the rest of the debt being forgiven. However, that only applies to federal loans (which is only one of my four loans).

According to the Federal Education Department, in 2009, the amount of outstanding federal student loans is $544 billion, up $42 billion from last year. Where is our bailout? Where are our options? The default rate on student loans this year is already at 6.9%. That’s a 13% increase from last year.

Recently, Rev. Jesse Jackson started a campaign called “Reduce the Rate” urging the Obama administration to reduce the interest rates of student loans to 1%....the same amount of interest the banks are getting.

Jackson’s plan proposes the following…

  • Reduce the interest rate on all student loans to 1%.
  • If banks can borrow at 1% or less, then so should our students.
  • Extend the grace period before loan repayment begins from 6 months to 18 months for students who graduate.
  • In these tough economic times, it takes a college graduate an average of 6 months to 1 year to find a job. The rules should reflect this reality.
  • End the penalties assessed to schools for student loan defaults.
  • Schools should not be held accountable for students who don’t pay back their loans.
  • Increase Pell Grants to cover the average yearly cost of a public
  • 4 year institution instead of the amounts in the current stimulus package–$5,350 starting July 1 and $5,550 in 2010-2011

Source: Reducetherate.org

I chose to go to a private school and I chose to work in a field where the starting salaries are low. Does that mean that I chose to live a life of struggle, wondering how I am going to pay my rent, afford the basics of living and still stay in my chosen career field…all while putting up with high interest rates and an amount of debt that brings me to tears?

Filed under: Economy • Education • Samantha Hillstrom
soundoff (701 Responses)
  1. Christopher

    Your student loan debt burden is your burden to bear and bear alone. You are completely responsible for the loans you CHOSE to take on.

    I could not afford college when I graduated high school, so i joined the Army. 6 years later I attended college full time and used my GI Bill, and graduated with no loans or debt.

    I made a choice, and you did also. You deserve no "bail-out".

    April 1, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  2. Margaret

    Finally someone is talking about this! I have around $175,000. I went to a private catholic law school. Of course members of university administration specifically said not to worry that we would all make a lot of money. I cannot even get a job doing this right now. I am really irritated that if I had been one of the homeowners who purchased more than they could afford or ran up my credit card bills buying designer clothing, I could just walk away or go through bankruptcy. With student loans, bankruptcy is not even an option. This kind of situation makes going to school on the same level as buying an expensive purse – a waste of money. I would gladly give back my law degree in exchange for an expungement of that debt.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:43 am |
  3. 05 Grad

    I understand Samantha's situation- I too went to a private school and graduated with student loan debt. I did not find a career for one year. However, I worked 2 jobs to pay my debt. I found a steady place of employment, and continued to work a second job while working 45-50 hours a week at my primary place of employment. I chose the private school, and with that I chose the struggle- but I chose to work hard and overcome it. 4 years after graduation a lot of hard work, and wedding, and a baby later my $30,000 in student loans- plus my husband's $30,000 will be paid off in 12 months. It can be done- you can choose to struggle now and prosper later- or you can choose to struggle now, whine about the situation, hope someone else will change your situation and struggle for the rest of your life.

    People need to stop looking for the easy way out and start working harder. There is no magic wand that will make it go away so stop looking for handouts and take control of your finances and future. Work 2 jobs or 3 if you need to, but don't look for someone to clean up the mess you made- roll up your sleeves and do it yourself!

    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  4. IP

    Have you considered contacting your alma mater (Columbia? Barnard? NYU?), and giving them an earful for selling you a good which has, I presume, fallen far short of your income expectations and needs? These same institutions have multi-dollar billion endowments (admittedly impaired over the past year) that should be tapped to provide assistance to alumni who, through no fault of their own, are hard pressed to generate $1,000 a month to service their educational debt.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  5. Mike Montgomery

    We must all take responsibility for our actions. You ask "where is your bail out?", we can't possibly bail out everyone who makes bad financial decisions. Eventually someone will be paying for the excesses and it may well be our children and grandchildren. We should be known as the "neediest, self-induldged, whiniest generation"
    A culprit you have left out is the Universities that have been raising their costs at double the inflation rate or more for decades. They promote "increased financial aid" as their justification but it leaves many with these onerous student loan debts.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  6. Chris


    I wrote this same letter to President Obama a month ago. I went to law school from 1993-1996 and my $70,000 loan has now ballooned to $170,000 due to job issues over 12-13 years and some untimely factors. Yet we bail out car companies and banks and others who have corruptly made their own trouble while others like myself and you are stuck getting ramrodded by the likes of Sallie Mae. If they want the economy to turn, they need to bailout people with student loans and let them use the new found hope and money to throw back into the system and to jump start the economy. It's a joke in its current state. Thanks for stating what I personally wrote to the Pres in his email site. Of course...no reply as yet.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  7. Daphne

    To those of you proclaiming that those of us with student loan debts should have worked our way through school, or saved enough to go to school without taking loans, you are very disillusioned. I grew up with my grandmother, whose entire SS income was around $500 monthly. I had some kind of job from the time I was 13. Saving enough money to go to college would have been wonderful, but unfortunately, in some situations, is just not possible. I have a master's degree and nearly $40,000 in student loan debt. I have been paying for years and have barely made a dent. The three major jobs I have held since graduation have been primarily public service jobs, creating and providing programs to assist low-income citizens. I think I deserve some kind of break, and so do many others.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  8. Luke, Ohio

    Did anyone consider that the easy availability of loans allows the colleges and universities to charge so much for an education? If the money isn't available, they won't have students. Making the loans more affordable won't solve the problem – the colleges will just start paying more. When inflation was so low, why did tuition go up so much? I understand your plight; but, I have little sympathy. I will pay off my 6th and final student loan this fall, and I graduated in 1991. I've been out of work twice in the past 18 years and still have had to pay back the loans at an 8-10% interest rate and have only been able to use the tax deduction now available for a limited time. Life is tough and the economic situation today seems to make everyone think that they deserve some payback for it.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  9. Victoria

    I personally have 50k in student load debt to obtain my B.A. and I went to a state school. 5000 for tuition a year plus 600-1000 in book (not all professors put them in the library), student health care is about 1500 a year. What about all the student activities and fees that a student can't opt out of that equals another 800 a year. Once it is all added up I spent 8300 a year not including room and board. If anything should change it's how our government qualifies for financial aid. It is very unfair that a person has to report parents income when putting him or herself through school. If my parents were not included in financial aid I would have 1/2 the debt. It is disgusting how education which will add to the tax base in a few years is not more affordable for those in need.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  10. Rich

    "I chose to go to a private school and I chose to work in a field where the starting salaries are low. Does that mean that I chose to live a life of struggle, wondering how I am going to pay my rent, afford the basics of living and still stay in my chosen career field…all while putting up with high interest rates and an amount of debt that brings me to tears?"


    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  11. Annabelle Moore

    My son has a huge debt with student loans, about $1,300.00 per month and is trying to pay it off but the interest rates are so high, plus he has living expenses as well. In this economy my husband and I cannot help him out with the payments, we have a younger son who still lives at home worry about when he goes off to college how will we pay for it.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  12. Lori

    I totally agree with you. I graduated from a private university 2 years ago also. Unfortunately for me, I only work part-time. I was working full-time for a month, but got laid off. How were we supposed to know that the economy would be this bad? We don't have mommy and daddy paying for our education like some people do. I can't afford to pay any of my loans right now. To me, groceries and rent come first. The interest on my loans will go up. It's a huge burden that I am always stressed about. I thought I would find a good job right after college and wouldn't have any problem paying off the loans. Something has to be done because it's absolutely ridiculous.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  13. Maria

    I would like to take this idea even further. I would suggest that those who teach in the K through university systems have all their loans forgiven. We need qualified teachers in this country, don't we? Why not create a real incentive to remain in the field by making it easier for teachers/professors to live a better life without the burden of their student loans? I owe 100 grand myself!

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  14. DC

    The strong points here are that job loss and wage cuts effect someone's ability to pay a student loan just as much as a mortage. For years, everyone has called student loans "good" debt, but now it's just another albatross around many people's necks. I finished with a masters degree and 40K in loans that I'm only paying off the interest on currently– condolidated to 7%. I could pay more, but I decide not to. For me, I knew what I was getting in to and have no issues with the system– that is until I see these bailouts for folks with mortage issues and the banking system as a whole. Student loans don't need to be a cash cow for banks– lowering the rates for everyone and extending the payback timeframe is only fair at this juncture.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  15. Christy St. Louis, MO

    Samatha, I'm in much of the same boat as you and thousand of other Americans. I am a social worker and in the state of Missouri that means you need a Master's Degree. I worked all through college and grad school even when that meant a full course load and 35 hours of internship a week. I still had to take out tens of thousands of dollars in debt and that's the same no matter where you attend school. As a social worker my earning power is low: 25-30K for entry level. But I love my job and everyday I'm helping those with disabilities find jobs themselves. Shouldn't we reward the people in this country helping others? Teachers, social workers, counselors? Shouldn't we be helping individuals in these professions seeing as how they give so much more back?

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  16. Sarah Jane

    Well played, Samantha!

    Don't apologize or even so much as reflect on your choice to attend a quality institution. Perhaps you landed a job because you didn't compromise where you chose to go to school.

    (comment to cnn: PLEASE continue to make this an issue! Students need a voice out there!)

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  17. Scott S.

    The bottom line is that banks get a 1% rate and then charge a huge mark-up. It's not an issue of whether people should have gone to a cheaper school or not, but whether we wish education to be such a profitable trade. We consolidated our loans about 7 years ago to a lower rate, but then rates dropped again and we were told we couldn't re-consolidate again similar to a mortgage? Once you got em' your stuck and the huge companies that fund these on behalf of the government have lobbyists to assure Congress is too wimpy to confront this ridiculous burden. People here aren't saying they won't pay them, just that there's not tools to manage them equal to other loans.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  18. Peter, West Covina

    Easy money (here the loans proposed at 1%) is exactly what caused the financial crisis that is destroying this country, and in the case of college education has caused tuitions to skyrocket to absurd levels. Until we bring back the concept of disciplined borrowing and disciplined lending, college tuitions are going to continue to skyrocket. Nowhere do you question how colleges have continued to jack up rates, and that's because everyone can get a loan to pay whatever they want to charge. No one seems willing to link the rediculous costs of college to the easy money problem our country is sick with right now. Unfortunately, so many of the solutionis proposed are just more "easy money solutions" to buy a car, to pay for tuition, to buy a house. The prices for these huge expenditures for the typical family need to come down, ESPECIALLY college tuition, and that's not going to happen if we give out more free money to every student asking.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  19. Heather

    One should not look at the lender for the issues, one should examine the institutions that charge the insurmountable fees. The banks should not shoulder the blame for the greed of the professors and administration at some of the top institutions. Perhaps Universitites should consider decreasing their inflated tuition to match what one will actually be able to pay back.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  20. JH

    Samantha wrote:

    I chose to go to a private school and I chose to work in a field where the starting salaries are low. Does that mean that I chose to live a life of struggle, wondering how I am going to pay my rent, afford the basics of living and still stay in my chosen career field

    Short answer: Yes.

    Why is it the taxpayers responsibility to take on your obligations? Whose decision was it to go to a school you couldn't afford and tehn take a low-paying job? Why do I need to pay for your foolish decisions?

    You have plenty of options available to you: Reduce your frivolous spending, find a chepaer apartment, take in roommates, take a second job. Lots of folks deal with economic difficulty without whining and expecting others to bail them out of their own irresponsible decisions.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  21. RG Perrin

    Student loans to high? The reason – many colleges and universities
    are charging too much. Most could care less about reducing
    their expenses. Therefore, college costs too much, and students
    have to borrow to much. I do I know this? I just retired from 37
    years of service at a public university. The waste and overcharging
    is just out of hand.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  22. Steve

    To the people who basically said, "you chose to go there, now you have to pay for it", my concern is 2 fold. Why is it that when you apply for a house, or even a car loan, they do a credit check, and determine how much house you can afford, but not for a school?
    Secondly, I was 17 turning 18 years old when a signed my acceptance offer and loan paperwork, and should've had no business making that big of a decision, for that much money, but there are no protections for young kids out there making those choices.
    Had I tried to go out and buy a $150k house, they sure as heck wouldn't have given me the money for it. Granted I did get a good job, and am able to pay back the $1100 per month for my loans without too much of a problem, but I can see how other kids could get it much worse situations.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  23. Melissa

    While my student loan debt is minimal (probably $20,000 right now), I keep making that number grow with graduate school. I couldn't find a job after college, so the only choice I had was to go back to school, in essence avoiding paying them off and hopefully finding employment once I am better educated. But to keep that number down so low, I paid for at least half of my college career with scholarships or out of pocket, which meant there were months when I was ecstatic to have even the smallest of luxuries-like McDonald's.

    We're pressured to go to college, as it is the only way you can get a good job. Yet, with today's economic environment, most cannot afford it. The "higher ups" push college, saying that America is uneducated compared to many developed nations. Well, perhaps they need to look at this article, look at current costs for a public university minus Pell Grants, and see that something needs to be done about the big business of education.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  24. Dennis

    Why don't we have Universal Education like France? Everyone in the nation pays an education tax and suddenly predatory student loans no longer exist....not just predatory student loans...but ALL student loans disappear. As Louis Armstrong said....What a wonderful world.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  25. Joseph Paster

    Stop crying! If you did not know what you were signing when you signed for the loans why did you sign for them? Take some responsibility and pay off the loans. I took out students loans in the 80s and paid them off early. These are future leaders boy are we in trouble.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  26. Katherine Bridgeman

    There is always more than one side to a story and that is true here as well. I also have a huge school loan debt and payments. I did go to a public school. But, at the time I went to school only 9 coleges offered a masters in the field of study I wanted, and a masters is required to work in this field. Most schools only accepted 2-6 students. A few offered more spots. The majority of these schools were private. Sometimes there isn't a choice to go to a 'state' school. Obviously some people wouldd rather that I didn't try to become a productive citizen. I should have just stayed home, live on welfare, medicaid, and fund my life by having several children from multiple fathers and bilking tax payers. Apparently thats acceptable... but don't ask for help for higher education from taxpayers... thats a no no!

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  27. Christine

    Perhaps before signing up for these student loans – before graduating from high school – students should be required to take a FINANCE course to better understand what living within your means actually means and what the terms of these loans will mean to you after graduation.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  28. CSR

    A private school in NYC...and you want to be bailed out? You have a lot to learn about how the world works. I, as a taxpayer, do not owe you anything. You should get ahead just like the rest of us...hard work, don't get in debt over your head, live within your means, more hard work...

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  29. Seshat

    You yourself say, "I made a lot of mistakes when signing up for my loans." Why should anyone pay for your foolish mistakes but you? Do you really think anyone else should be responsible for your bad choices?

    I am not in the least sorry for anyone who chooses to live far beyond their means, like you obviously did, and now wants a "get out-of debt free" card. How dare you whine publically, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your valuable education obviously did not improve your common sense or reduce your sense of entitlement. Get that second job and shut up.

    I earned my college education by hard work and with difficult-to-obtain scholarships. Anything worth having is worth working for - something you apparently did not pick up along with your diploma.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  30. Robyn

    I owe $30,000 and never got a degree. I hit a wall with a learning disability and an administration unwilling to help me. I am currently struggling, having just been laid off and supporting my husband who was laid off last year. I don't have the opportunities to get the good jobs that come with a degree, but I still have to pay the loans. I have no recourse at all.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  31. amjad

    there are things that the average citizen will never understand and will never be explained to them. things like how credit scores are arrived at. these are untoucable economic paradigms that are structured to serve the few and enslave the masses. a necessary part of this plan is keeping the masses ignorant. let alone a rescue plan for student loan victims couldn't the feds at least make their good friend sallie mae at least assign a personal loan officer to each client...or even have a traveling symposium on how to batlle student loan turmoil?you try to call sallie and get answers and you'll see what i'm talking about.

    a year ago this kind of talk would have been considered conspiracy babble but i think everybody sees the picture a bit more clearly now. it's funny how quickly ideologies move from the fringe closer to the center.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  32. Mary

    I completely agree! I'm in the same boat as you, Samantha: I graduated 2 years ago and work in technical theatre, which means I'm looking for a new gig every 3-4 months or so and working retail in between, so my average income varies dramatically. I moved back in with my parents so I don't pay rent and rarely have to pay for food, but I still find it difficult to pay the minimum on my consolidated loans, even though they are low (relatively speaking).
    I hope the government does give student loan holders some relief: the mortgage crisis isn't the only financial crisis within our boarders.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  33. denese

    i too have too many loans- i DID work while i put myself thru undergrad and graduate school in my 30s. i became a therapist, and while in grad school the hmos came about and changed everything. now insurance companies determine how much and how long a client can be seen for therapy.
    all of us make choices, and everyone of us is different . our lives and our paths are unique. so those of you who are being judgmental and saying that you worked thru school, you need to step back and understand that for millions of people, without student loans they would never have been able to college.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  34. Lynn

    My daughter just graduated and passed the bar and cannot find a job in this economy. She is saddled with $125,000 in law school loans. I, also, feel the interest rates for these loans should be lower (her's at 6.8%). This would make the monthly payments a little more manageable. I think these kids were willing to take on debt to get an education in the field they want to work with the thought they would obtain good paying jobs and be able to pay these loans back. Unfortunately, our economy will not support that belief. Let's pray things change soon.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  35. NickB

    1st comment, Stacie – valid point! Personal responsibility is gone, completely. I have a student loan, and although it would be nice if someone just gave me money to pay it off, I understand that no one should have to do that and it is my debt to repay! Therefore I will pay for it. No offense, but it takes two minutes to research how much the average starting salary is, for any job position, an I would say that about 95% of starting positions cannot afford that type of debt. You can know how much schools will cost also with about 5 minutes of research, so... lets use some basic math and decision making skills her folks. Don't go to a private college, rack up $100k in debt, only to become a teacher making 35k a year. I wish I would have been better educated on the loan process as well, but I never, ever, would have racked up $115,000 in loans, ever.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  36. Tonya

    I'm thanking my lucky stars I was raised by a poor single mom & busted my butt to get good grades so I could attend Michigan State University on needs based & academic based funding. Four years cost me ~$10k in federally subsidized loans.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  37. Betty in Texas

    Being an adult means accepting the consequences of your choices. Stop whining. Suck it up and pay off your loans as fast as you can. It's not America's problem - it's yours. I speak from experience. I put myself through private college and it took many years for me to pay off my loans. But I did it, and it was worth the effort. And I did it without asking for public sympathy or financial breaks from the government. Grow up.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  38. Carlos the Gringo

    I worked in the student loan industry for years until I couldn't stand it any longer. Yes, people have to take responsibility for taking out these loans but the system itself is predatory. I agree that the whole system needs to be overhauled.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  39. Dr. J

    One missing aspect in your article is the connection between banks and debt collectors. When I could not pay my $19k student loans, the interest, collection fees brought my total to $60k within 3yrs. I was told it was all perfectly legal. I am still paying $450 a month after 15 years of out of school. Someone needs to give us a break. We need to form a debt cartel. Maybe our refusal to pay all back will force the govt to change the rules

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  40. Paul

    A few observations:
    1) We're in a higher ed bubble, just like housing or internet or what-not. Colleges are charging prices far and above what it takes to educate a person, mostly to support "research"... which can be useful (i.e. physics, engineering, or whatnot) or not so much, like anything coming out of a ___-studies department. Professors don't teach; they work for tenure. That, and a lot of the degrees coming out of colleges are nigh-useless after school; but people still want them to have a B.S or B.A on the wall. College in a lot of cases now is NOT worth it, but we're told it is.
    2) Sam– all my sympathies. But I don't want to pay for the loans. Loan forgiveness also penalizes those who either went to less expensive schools or paid their loans off, in effect subsidizing bad loans. And we see what happens when gov't forces that... see the mortgage debacle. Government money is tax money. Everytime you see "government money" or "federal aid", subsitute "my and my family's money" and see if you still want to pay it.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  41. Kim Ledoux

    This starts with educating outgoing juniors/seniors and their parents!

    I chose a major based on a career and what I knew that career would pay me back. I know so many people who went to expensive schools for majors that have no chance of paying off. Some have 100k in loans making 30k now – poor choices.

    My parents were unable to help me.I worked through school and took out loans. My husband and I both graduated from state schools with 30k in debt each – it took us 10 years of $800 per month payments to get out from underneath it.

    For my first few years out of college I would go back to school and lecture kids on this very subject. Put a spreadsheet in front of your children – show them the numbers. They may still elect to go after their dream major/job/career – but they may never get to enjoy it with all the loan debt they can accumulate.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  42. Lauren from Detroit

    Dear Samantha,
    I am a 27 year old lawyer in Detroit. I am in the exact same position. Every month I face eviction or student loan payments, I am inundated wtih debt collectors phone calls. I am desperate for some assistance and have gotten no help or compassion from the loan companies, If you come up with a solution, answer, or petition please let me know.

    Your mirror image

    Lauren in detroit

    April 1, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  43. Lisa

    The Dept. of Education has a new plan as of 2007 where if you work for a non-profit ( government job, teaching) for 10 years and make all of your payments they will pay off the rest of your loans at the end of the 10 years.

    I've already been paying on my loans since 1999, but at least this will help me somewhat because i still owe $78,000 on these things. When i signed the paperwork nowhere did it say I'd be acruing interest on a daily basis. At $600 a month payment, only about $90 goes to principle. And unlike a mortgage, you can't consolidate at a lower interest rate a second time. Why? Congress protects the student loan companies of course.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  44. linda

    Let's not forget what a joke the FAFSA is. We have four kids attending college and they still don't qualify for any grants or free money towards their education. I feel horrible they have to take out loans, but if they want to go to college, it is the only way they can make up the difference between what they make during the summer and what they make at their part-time jobs. The first will be done in another year and I pray that there is a plan put in place to change the structure of his loans to ease his burden once he gets out into the working world.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  45. Deb Samson

    By doing "the next right thing" I am paying off my Parent Plus loans on time – but taking on more credit card debt. I'm trying not to become resentful for all the bailouts - there's not much for the consumer who struggles to pay all their bills on time.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  46. Chris

    I will be finishing up with my bachelor's degree next spring. I go to a private college as well. I did however go to a community college first, but my career path is set on becoming a teacher. It isn't a secret that teachers don't make awesome salaries. I want to go to go on to get my masters, but it looks like it will be very difficult to add even more loans on top of what I have already accumulated. I'm considering the military now...and I can't honestly say that I am considering it for all the right reasons. Hopefully we'll get the support we need in the end.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  47. Pat

    Right On Girlfriend! I genuinely believe every High School should have a course on personal finance and the effects of borrowing money PRIOR to allowing ANYONE to agree to attend college/university. This class should include information about credit cards and how applying for the billion cards offered on school campuses in exchange for nick-nacks like pens and hats actually negatively affects credit. Anyhow... good luck to you!

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  48. Brad

    I think we are not doing any favors for our next generation of leaders by teaching them they don't have to be held accountable for their decisions. I chose a cheaper; in-state school because I knew that I would eventually have to repay my student loans. As a nation, we DO need to support our next generation of leaders... by teaching them (myself included, being just 25) that every action has a consequence. I had the foresight to choose wisely, why on earth wouldn't you realize you'd have to repay your loan?

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  49. Raphael

    I'm in the same boat, we need help too what's up Obama??

    April 1, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  50. Don

    Easy student loans are why college tuition has skyrocketed. The schools know there is easy money out there and are out to get all they can. It's a shame that we have to mortgage the future with debt to fuel the greed of the college institutions.

    April 1, 2009 at 11:34 am |
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