Student Debt Traps Parents Too!

How a mother and son got locked in $115,000 student debt trap - "I’m 63 years old and I’m afraid I’m going to have to work the rest of my life.”


Stephan eventually fell behind on his student loan payments. And, as lenders are wont do, they turned to his cosigner to pick up the tab. Both son and mother field dozens of phone calls from lenders and debt collectors each week. “It’s one of the biggest burdens on me because I know that [my mother] is struggling financially and it’s not her debt,” Stephan, 30, says. “It just adds to the stress of everything I’m going through and inability to pay back these loans, defaulting and worrying about what they’re going to do next.” To keep debt collectors at bay, he and his mother pool their resources each month, paying roughly $1,000 when they can. His loan balance, which totaled $88,000 when he graduated, has since ballooned to over $115,525, thanks in part to ever-accruing interest and late fees. “This is after both of us paying literally thousands of dollars over the last several years to try to keep the loans from defaulting,” Deborah says. “My savings are gone. I’m going on 63 years old and I’m afraid I’m going to have to work the rest of my life.” The consequences of their debt go beyond dollars and cents. Both of their credit scores have plummeted. When Deborah needed to buy a new car, the only loan she qualified for came with a 20% APR. Stephan and his wife haven’t been able to qualify for a mortgage, so they continue to rent. They have applied for medical relief services to help manage their sons’ expenses, but are consistently denied based on their combined income without consideration for the amount they pay toward student loans each month. “If I could do it all over again, I would never, ever go to that school and take that money,” Stephan says. “I would rather have zero college debt and work at a convenience store than deal with what I’m dealing with right now.”
Comments: Deborah and Stephan image a snap from the article. The top image from Forgive Student Debt (not a view I expose!). Robert Reich on student debt (I don't agree with his position either but worthwhile read and has another photo of the 'ball and chain' student). My own views:

  • There is a moral hazard in debt forgiveness. 
  • On a personal level we did not cosign on any student loans for our children. As far as I know 2 of my 3 did not undertake student loans. All have college degrees. One soon to have a Masters from M.I.T. 
  • Kathee and I both worked and paid our way through college. I know that was eons ago (I graduated in '71 and Kathee in '73) and that times were different then. 
  • Options for students: PSEO (not an option for me in the '60s), working and saving, living at home, community college, join the military and use GI Bill (my son), Starbucks
  • We have friends who cannot retire because of the very same issue in this article. 

1 comment:

  1. Probably worth noting that either we get stuck with student loan forgiveness costs, or we get stuck with welfare costs.

    This case? He graduated from Robert Morris, which will *barely* get you to $115k in loans if you go there for four years. Live at home and work to pay for room and board, and I really don't see how he got to $88k in loans. (thank you LinkedIN)

    His jobs have been as a bank teller and insurance agent, meaning that his college degree hasn't done squat for him. It may suggest he didn't have good medical coverage, either, which explains his real issue--huge medical bills.


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