Saturday, November 24, 2012

Questions For Readers

Has the so-called Great Recession, along with having crippling student loan debt, hardened you? Has it made you appreciate the smaller things in life, or do you find yourself consumed by fear about your future, and incapable of seeing the nice things that life has to offer on a day-to-day basis?

When you think about your future, right now, what does it look like? Is it bleak? Is there possibility? Or is it a mixture of emotions? How much do you think this outlook has been affected by your student loan debt?


Unknown said...

Honestly, the situation is so completely fubar that it's near paralyzing. We are facing a culmination of 2 centuries of Fiat banking and the machinations of the wealthy elitists that wish to rule the world with impunity. The price that we will pay for our ignorance, indifference and apathy is more than I fear any of us can afford.

The modern education system was designed from inception to teach us what to think, not how to think. The very paper that we strive for is worthless in its translation and relevance in light of what we face.

We have as a society, chosen to lick the lollipop of mediocrity, and that can only lead to sucking forever...

Anonymous said...

I posted this on Third Tier Reality in response to an Anon commenter:


You are really horrible. Don't talk about my parents. They are old and have illnesses. What kind of a bastard are you anyway?

You proclaim so loudly about how Public service Loan forgiveness is the answer for student loan debt.

I am going to start a new blog, and chronicle a job search for a public service job.

I am also going to find out for sure if $342K of Federally(sic) backed loans will in fact be wiped away after 10 years and with or without an IRS tax bill at the end.

If I am able to land such a job and with all guarantees that I can have my loan discharged after 10 years, I will proclaim you to be correct and owe you an apology.

As it stands now you owe me an apology for insulting my parents. And calling me white trash kind of indicates something about you.

In fact, why don't you just tell me who you are?

If you feel so right about everything you say, you wouldn't be anon.

I went on television and also on NPR radio, and no one- not the interviewers, not the producers, etc. told me about public service loan forgiveness after 10 years for a debt of my magnitude.


cc. Cryn Johannsen
All Education Matters

FLASH Gordon Wayne Watts - Lakeland, Fla. said...

You wanna know what I'm thinking the future for my Higher Ed mess holds...? ~~ I'm thinking about suing for the torts in a HUGE Class-Action Lawsuit, and as described in the 'Legal Research' linked at the top-left of these mirrors:

Cross-posted on 4 mirrors:





As a reminder, Cryn, you and your blog are still listed highly on my blog roll of this page.



Anonymous said...

I do not feel good about my future. I have detailed my story on your blog many times so I apologize for the redundancy.

My future is incredibly bleak. I am 30 years old and my husband is 40. We both hold master's degrees from state university and are both nearly $200k in debt at this point as the interest continues to compound and capitalize on our balances. We literally have NO savings. We have never owned a home. Every year, we have to withdraw from our retirement account to pay bills, so we have no retirement, either.

We filed for bankruptcy 2 years ago, thinking it would help us pay on our student loans but we were kidding ourselves. So, on top of having no money, we have destroyed credit not just from the bankruptcy but from the debt-to-income ratio. We can't have kids, no matter how badly we want them because if we can't afford ourselves, how will we afford our children?

We can't keep living like this forever. We aren't getting any younger and we each still have 30 years of debt repayment ahead of us. If we started paying now (we've started on some loans, but not all because we just can't pay it all), my husband would be 70 by the time he paid off his debt and I'd be 60. It will be worse than that though - it'll probably be another 10 years before we can make enough to pay this and by that time, our balances will be so high it will be laughable. Our debt is increasing exponentially faster than our income ever will, thanks to interest.

My future is bleak. Really freaking bleak. This has worsened my vulnerabilities to depression and anxiety. This is NOT the future I worked so hard for. I honestly feel like my life is over and I want to die. I have very seriously considered suicide as it is the only way out however, since some of our debt was accrued during our marriage, my husband would be stuck with my bill (even though he never cosigned). I can't do that to him. His burden is terrible enough.

If I haven't already answered your question, student loans are the bane of my existence. They are all I think about. I don't sleep at night, I am getting muscle twitches in my face, I get stabbing ear/eye/teeth pains which are allegedly due to the stress from all of this. I really don't see what there is to live for. I'm not even asking for luxury - I'm asking for a chance to just live a basic life without this kind of stress.

I am hopeless and angry. There is no future for me or my husband or anyone like us. And what pisses me off the most is that, from my perspective, nobody seems to be hearing us. They talk about passing out flyers to future students which better inform them about student debt. Not to be selfish or anything, but how does that help the current 36 million people who have become America's modern debt slaves?

Anonymous said...

@Nov. 27, 10:15AM

Your situation reminds me a lot of my own.

I too have hopeless and massive SL debt with wildly compounding interest until I am well past retirement age.

I also have no credit anymore due to the debt to income ratio (stated grounds for rejection whenever I try to get a loan)

I am depressed very often and not a day goes by when the thought of suicide because of my hopeless SL does not cross my mind.

I'm sorry it has to be this way for us.

As for myself, I am simply sorry I ever pursued higher ed, and I feel like the pain will never end.

The existing remedies, such as IBR, are not good enough and are a mockeryu since as you say, the interest keeps growing and the finish line keeps moving further ahead.

Anonymous said...

@ November 28, 2012 3:37 AM

It is terrible that we are both in this situation. I'm so sorry to hear about what you're experiencing because I obviously know how difficult it is.

I agree with you that IBR is just a mockery to us. It keeps us in debt, in fact, increases our debt and at the end of the program, we're going to owe tens of thousands of dollars in income taxes when our balances are "forgiven." In the meantime, we'll continue to have no credit opportunities to buy houses or cars or start families. It is just a way to keep us in debt slavery.

I am sorry also that I pursued higher education. While knowledge itself is priceless, my degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on in the workforce, because everyone else has the same degrees. In fact, if I want a job in my field, I'd have to get a Ph.D. I am stubbornly unwilling to follow that carrot again. I followed it this far and all it did was bring me out into the deep end of the swimming pool and leave me without the ability to swim to get back to the edge of the pool.

Student loans are a SERIOUS problem, not just for us but for society as a whole. When you leave people with few choices and hopeless futures, you're going to end up facing a group with little to lose. I believe that at some point, backing a human into a figurative corner is like backing a wild animal into a literal corner. They're going to either fight or flee. For those of us who cannot afford to "flee" and leave this burden on our loved ones, at some point when we can no longer feed ourselves and the DOE is sending their thugs to our doorsteps to collect on defaulted student debt, we're going to reach our breaking points. I'm trying to figure out if my breaking point is going to be in a mental institution (no joke) or joining the grassroots movement with everything I have left in me.

This is unrealistic and unfair. I wake up every day (if I can sleep at night) and I still ask myself how my government could have allowed this to happen. This is the kind of crap you read about in history books - this isn't something that is supposed to happen in modern America.

Anonymous said...

"This is something you read about in history books."

You said it. I have never articulated that, but it is really true. A nightmare and someday they will look back in amazement at the removal of consumer bankruptcy human rights and the cruelty at the hands of academia working hand in hand with Congress.

Rhonda K. Donaldson said...

I have defaulted on my private loans and am now, for the first time, able to pay my federal loans;but just barely. I have a partner but we will not be getting married anytime soon. I don't want to saddle him with the debt. I will die before the debt is paid off. You see, I went back to school for my Masters when I was 42. I finally have a decent paying job, but it still isn't enough to pay my bills and have anything left over to place in savings.

I make just enough over that I can't enroll in IBR. I am looking to get into the public services debt forgiveness program but it is hard to get the loans consolidated so I can enroll. Does anyone have suggestions or help for this program? I'm not finding any helpful info out there. The site really sucks.

I am rather disgusted by the whole mess and how we are all being treated. Had we all bought a house or decided to gamble our lives away, we could have filed bankruptcy and been done with it by now. How can the Government not see the problem and the pain we are all going through? Don't they ever care?

Keep on keeping on, Cryn. Wishing you the best!

Rhonda K. Donaldson said...

I have defaulted on my private loans and am now, for the first time, able to pay my federal loans;but just barely. I have a partner but we will not be getting married anytime soon. I don't want to saddle him with the debt. I will die before the debt is paid off. You see, I went back to school for my Masters when I was 42. I finally have a decent paying job, but it still isn't enough to pay my bills and have anything left over to place in savings.

I make just enough over that I can't enroll in IBR. I am looking to get into the public services debt forgiveness program but it is hard to get the loans consolidated so I can enroll. Does anyone have suggestions or help for this program? I'm not finding any helpful info out there. The site really sucks.

I am rather disgusted by the whole mess and how we are all being treated. Had we all bought a house or decided to gamble our lives away, we could have filed bankruptcy and been done with it by now. How can the Government not see the problem and the pain we are all going through? Don't they ever care?

Keep on keeping on, Cryn. Wishing you the best!

Anonymous said...

@ Rhonda

No, I don't believe they do care. In a perfect world they would, but too many people are profiting from our pain. The student lending companies such as Sallie Mae spend millions every year sending their lobbyists to Congress. The lobbyists "contribute to the campaign funds" (ahem, pay off) of Congress members such as John Boehner and friends. John Boehner and friends then jump through hoops to accommodate Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae then has no incentive to work with you and every reason to push you into default. Since they paid for the laws to be changed in their favor, they have virtually limitless powers to do whatever they want. If you default, they increase your balance by 25%, tack on another %25 collection fee, send your account to a collection agency owned by them and then bill the taxpayer for the newly inflated balance. It is in their best interest to default you and it is in the best interest of individual Congress members to let it happen.

You know, when I was in elementary school, I learned about this little thing in our country called CHECKS AND BALANCES. I am baffled as to how a couple of members of Congress can take away our human/Constitutional rights without the permission of the President or the Supreme Court?? And even if they were able to pull it off, why have they been allowed to get away with it for this long? Is it possible that Sallie Mae is also paying off other branches of government to turn their heads when it comes to this inhumane debt slavery trap?

We need officials with integrity in office. I am really hoping that Elizabeth Warren will make some positive changes. She has been known for her disgust with the system. Let us hope and pray she will do what we sent her to do. Of course, that is going to involve convincing other congressional officials to see things the way she does, which will be a nearly impossible task, especially if Sallie Mae is paying them the same $250,000.00 that they paid John Boehner to bend the law.

They're just out of touch and they don't care. The thing is, if they let us sink, they'll have no country left to reign over anymore. They're shooting themselves in the feet.

Anonymous said...

Re: The horror of student loan debt as it relates to marriage:

".....separate property can accidentally become community property if payments are made from joint funds. This means that in the event of divorce, creditors will have the leeway they need to come after both marriage partners, not just one. And while prenuptial agreements are not terribly romantic, they are a smart way to ensure that debts brought into the marriage stay separate."

That quote came from this article here:

Anonymous said...

I went back to school to switch careers. I was miserable in my old job/industry and needed to start over for my sanity. The total price tag? $200,000. Every now and then I see a news article profiling a graduate who is crippled with something like $40,000 in student loans, and that is supposed to be a phenomenal amount of debt? Hilarious.
Obviously, I knew that I was borrowing that ridiculous amount, and along the way I was warned again and again by this or that entity that I had to pay it all back, that it couldn't be absolved in bankruptcy, etc. I was willing to accept that, and I have never regretted anything (unlike some of the commenters here) because I absolutely love my new field of study.
The thing I NEVER anticipated, however, is that I would not be able to find any job, anywhere, doing anything. I live in Los Angeles where you would think it would be easy to find employment. I graduated six months ago and have made applying for work a full time job. I have never even gotten so much as a rejection letter! It's like these online applications go into some black hole somewhere. A month ago I caved and applied to two staffing agencies in my OLD field (pharmaceutical), certain that I would at least have a paycheck even if I had to go back to that evil line of work. Nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds are blowing through my bleak existence. A few years ago I would have had multiple interviews that same week and a job the following week. I can't believe how bad it is out there. I was not even able to get the seasonal night-stocking job at Toys-R-Us that I applied for. Maybe I shouldn't have told them I have a Master's degree.
The worst part is that there is no help and no hope for me. There is no welfare (I don't have kids), no unemployment (I didn't lose a job, I just graduated), and I can't get forbearance on most of my loans because they were PRIVATE LOANS, and graduate loans. So I have absolutely no income. I'm borrowing from friends and family just to eat and sleep indoors, and pay for my stinking loans now that my grace period is over. (Great, more debt.) In case you are wondering, I also can't go back and live with my parents. I am 40 years old and seriously, seriously screwed financially. The only solution is either to move out of the country or kill myself.
I have a friend who went to one of those for-profit colleges, felt he got ripped off and stopped paying on his loans. The collection agencies set out to publicly humiliate him by calling everyone he ever worked with, all his friends, his family, anyone they could find. And they can find a LOT of people in your circle now because of the internet. His loans ended up doubling in fees and interest and they will never go away. Now he's even more f*cked than ever.
I feel for the other commenters here. I'm in the same boat. I'm living on other people's charity right now with no way to ever get ahead. Shit, if I could serve time in debtors prison to work it off, I would. I have nothing left to lose.

Anonymous said...

@ December 1, 2012 6:24 PM:

I feel your pain. My husband is in $200k debt and I am in $200k debt. Neither one of us is a doctor or lawyer, and we went to state schools. Yes, you read that right. Between the two of us, we have $400k in debt. I, two, laugh when I read about someone having a "severe" debt load somewhere in the $20k to $40k range. What bothers me is the way they figure out what the "average student" graduates in debt with. They are taking the average of the debt of people like you, me and my husband, the people who graduate with no debt because their parents were rich or they were married at 18 and poor enough to qualify for grants, then everyone in between. I have a LOT of friends who graduated from college and not one of them got out under $50k in student loans - and these people when to state schools like me. This "the average student graduates with $26k in debt" crap is a lie. Hang in there. I'm oftentimes suicidal too. I've been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and if you want to know the truth, I think it's because of these loans.

@ November 29, 2012 8:11 AM:

It's worse than that. I spoke to 2 different lawyers about my student debt and my husband's. Even though neither of us ever signed on the other's debt, we're both responsible for it because about half of it was acquired during our marriage. Did we know this? Of course not. They don't tell you this kind of thing on PURPOSE. Thankfully, we have no intention of ever separating but it still is not right. The lawyer actually told me that the private loans are so shady, that they probably have written in them that they can make any state's laws apply, whether you live there or not. So basically, they could probably hold anyone to the community property laws from other states, whether you've ever lived in a community property state or not.

It's bad. It's really, really bad. When I was a kid, I used to say things like, "I want to be an astronaut when I grow up." I never said, "I want to be a debt slave when I grow up."

Anonymous said...

I hate to write this, but it's true. I am also $100K in student loan debt and I have no job and no options, and my life in the US will get worse and worse. It is a trap.

But the amazing thing about the US, the thing that gets us worshipping flags, thinking that all soldiers are heroes, and cheering USA USA USA, is the fact that this country's education system drills into our heads for decades, from when we are very young, that the US is the best country on earth, that we should be proud of our citizenship, stand up and be part of society like real men, and that nowhere else, in the past or future, will succeed in reaching our standard of living and power and all that bullshit.

And that keeps people staying here, because they are so frightened that if they move, they think that they will be taking a step down, running away, being a coward, a failure, and all those other unAmerican things.

It's a psychological trap.

I see all the posters in this thread, and I see me too, just struggling in a desperate miserable existance for the past decade, for the next twenty or thirty years too, utterly ruined lives, failed plans, and we tried to do the right thing. This country has let us down.

Yet we still can't move? All this talk of not having kids or getting married? Of having no future?

The first step to the kind of debt relief you need is to find a country where you would both be happy, and where you could obtain visas.

The second step is to break the addiction to the US, and to see through the fakeness of this shithole.

Then the third step is to stop paying your debt, use that money to save in cash for starting out money when you arrive somewhere new.

And the fourth step is to leave and never look back.

Your family will be happier that you're happy and living a better life. You will be too.

Don't let the psychological trap of the US stop you from living the one life you get.

Me? I'm still here because I'm too much of a coward to follow my own advice. I think that people would be mad at me for leaving. I think that my kids would have a hard time readjusting to school in another country. I think it would be hard for me to find a job with the few skills I have. I think my spouse would hopelessly miss her parents, who would refuse to travel.

I'm so sorry that you, that we, are all in this situation. It is a disgrace. But the option is there - moving away. It's just it's such a difficult option for many people, especially those already married or with kids. But for single people drowning in hopeless debt, it's worth considering.

I hate this country. I want to love it, but after what the politicians and corporations and greedy people have done, all in the name of education, happily allowed by the courts and the media and the government, I hate this country.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to WALK AWAY, en-masse.

Student debt REPUDIATION is the only way out of this unsolvable morass. Join us.

Don't listen to what the baloney they tell you. Once enough of us follow the example we are setting, the system will quickly collapse. It deserves to. Destroy the predators.

Tiffany Gholar said...

The sad thing is that so much of this anger is directed inward and leads people to thoughts of suicide, instead of outward toward revolt and revenge against Sallie Mae. As an African-American, I am doubly outraged at being indentured to Sallie Mae, since my ancestors came here as slaves and slavery is supposed to be over. Who will be the Cinque or John Brown or Nat Turner or Django of this insurrection? Clearly Occupying wasn't enough. Now is the time for action.

Anonymous said...

The government has created an Ombudsman to determine the best course of action for the private loan problem. If you are affected by private loans please weigh in by April 8, 2013. More information here:

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous March 21 - thanks so much for posting this information for my readers. I appreciate it.

Founder & Exec. Dir.
All Education Matters, Inc.

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