Friday, April 8, 2011

Alone And Invisible? Life As A Defaulter

If you have defaulted on your loans, I would like to hear from you. While much has been done for prospective and current students, there has been little, if any, headway made to assist defaulters. It is a perfect case in which the 'moral hazard' argument is made, and that is why defaulters are simply invisible. More and more individuals are defaulting. Each day, I hear from at least two or three people who  tell me that they have defaulted. In many cases they are not the only ones that are affected by the status of their loans. There are the co-signers as well. Defaulters express deep anguish about their financial circumstances. They tell me stories of how their families have been ripped to pieces. Broken individuals. Broken families. Broken cities. Broken states. Broken nation. All of it adds up to an intellectually bankrupt nation, one which has turned its back on professionals and a robust middle class. These people have been turned into indentured educated zombies. Default, or so it seems, infects the mental health of a person. What sort of place has this country become? It's frighteningly distorted. Is it beyond repair? Will we continue to wage wars, and simultaneously impoverish Americans who pursue higher education? Can we bring back defaulters from their hell? What about the educated who are delinquent on their loans? What about the educated who fear that if something happens (a car wreck, a serious health problem), they too will be ruined? As of today, total outstanding student loan debt is over $902 billion (I presume that when you click on that link, it will have increased).

There is scant data about defaulters, and that needs to change. Furthermore, I want to explore it from a perspective that illuminates the human condition of a defaulter. Let's build a database with your personal stories. AEM will force policymakers to think about defaulters. The banks are demanding money. While the lenders have disturbing tactics, such as seizing money from people's bank accounts, they can't assume ownership of the education and knowledge inside a person's mind. How can they possibly seize that?

You are living with all that knowledge, but you are also in default. Tell us, what is that like?

If you wish to share your story, please email me ( If you would like to share your stories with other defaulters, there is also a Facebook group that I recently created here


Anonymous said...

This is a great Post.

Sometimes I just lapse into periods of blaming myself as if I gambled the money at a Casino, or invested in a bad stock.

Then I'll read something like this Post and have to remind myself that I am in such deep and hopeless debt because of a Higher Education.

I won't curse, but I will say that the whole scenario all seems really, really, seriously messed up.

And 1 Trillion Bucks is no joke--as in--we are headed for another Great Depression and even greater Political upheaval in its wake? It has happened before, why not again? Even Glenn Beck recommended that people hoard their own food stockpiles in case of such a panic lasting maybe a few weeks or more, where all of the food will be sold out.

I bet all the bankers are buying up gold, and making plans to flee the US when that happens.

Liz said...

I haven't defaulted, but I'm fighting with one of my loan companies about a big mistake they made in their favor. It's awful - every time I say, "You need to fix this," the obviously trained call center employee starts lecturing me about paying my debts and pressuring me to just accept the mistake and pay them.

There's a big difference between paying what I borrowed and funding the bank's screw ups. So I have zero guilt, but I can't imagine how awful they must be to people who really can't pay their loans. (Not to mention the 23% default penalties and other fees)

The worst part, to me, is how insistent the banks were on having a co-signer when I signed up for the loans, even though the government backs most of the loans. (I refused). It's like the banks knew they were going to trap people by going after their parents and loved ones for predatory interest and other bank screw ups.

Brian J. O'Malley said...

I am on the verge of defaulting. but when I can't pay my rent or utilities student loans will have to wait.