Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany“Student loans have literally and single-handedly destroyed my life. If my husband and I were in full repayment, with all of our federal and private loans combined, our monthly payments would be about $4,000.00 per month. We both came from middle-class homes. Our FAFSAs considered our parents’ incomes when determining our need and although neither of us lived with our parents during college, the only options we were given were student loans. We both attended public, state universities. I was divorced at 21 years old after leaving an abusive relationship and wanted to better myself. I saw my doctor for my grief and was incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on medication that distorted my reasoning, behavior and even my memory. The medication actually caused me to have a rare but deadly allergic reaction and I ended up in the hospital with it. Once I quit taking it and began to recover, I discovered I had taken out $100,000.00 in private student loans. To this day, I do not recall ever applying for or signing for this debt. I also have nothing to show for it because I additionally used federal loans to fund my education. I still question the validity of my debt. I have spoken to 5 different lawyers and all tell me that there is literally nothing I can do. I have a BA in Sociology (which, while intrinsically valuable, is not an employable degree). I believed the mantra that if I continued through graduate school, I’d be able to find a work. I finished my master’s a year ago and am still looking for a job. Since my private loans are in repayment and I am suffering from severe depression and we cannot afford our own home, I am living with family 2,000 miles from my husband who has been trying to get a job by me for 2 years now. He has 2 decades of experience and 3 degrees (working on a 4th, a Ph.D. Paying out of pocket because tuition is less expensive than his federal loans which he is trying to stave off by staying in school). We are 30 and 40 years old. We have never owned a home, we have no children even though we want them and our only car is aging. As if my situation were bad, my husband has it worse. As I mentioned, he is staying in school to stave off his federal loans because he simply cannot afford them. We have considered just defaulting on my private loans (which total $1,000.00 per month) but according to the attorneys with whom we consulted, the United States still has debtor’s prisons. These shady companies will deliberately leave court summons to old addresses if they choose to sue you. If you do not know that you are due in court, you do not go and an arrest warrant can be issued for you. So basically, I can’t default and we have to stave off the federal loans while trying to pay on the private loans. In doing this, my husband is incurring $500 per month in interest on his FEDERAL loans. He has never made enough to pay on them. 5 years ago, we thought we had gotten a break. My husband was offered a government job in DC. We knew the cost of living was high but opportunity for advancement was a real possibility. They brought him out paying him a criminal $45,000.00 per year. We struggled and in the process, had to file for bankruptcy. He was eventually promoted and now makes $65,000.00 but that is in DC and his take-home pay would still not cover our student loan minimums. Since then, cost-of-living raises and promotions have been frozen so we are stuck. It got to the point where we were homeless. I came out here to live with family. We placed our earthly belongings in storage and my husband has literally been living on Greyhound buses just to have somewhere to sleep at night. He lives to work and pay debt. This has been going on for 7 months. Our lives are over. There are no fail-safes for us. We were told that this debt was “safe” debt. We did not know that usury was legal for student loans. We did not know that truth in lending laws had been removed, that we’d never be permitted to consolidate it refinance or certainly that we’d never be able to file for bankruptcy with our loans. Like I said, we are 30 and 40 years old with no roof over our heads, one old car and no children… And there is no light at the end of this tunnel. I have been suicidal for the last 5 years. I do want to die because aside from my husband’s emotions, I have nothing left to live for. There is nothing to look forward to. There is no quality of life. It doesn’t matter how much money we make because it will never be ours. We are only debt slaves at this point.”

Sound familiar? Scroll down to pledge to be a student debt voter November 8th.