The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History, and How We Can Fight Back

By Alan Collinge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
The Borrowers

The debate over student loans continues, and much of the attention is focused on the culpability of the lenders. However, all too often, the plight of the borrowers hurt by the student loan system goes unnoticed. This chapter shares their stories so the reader can appreciate the depth and breadth of this problem.

Borrowers with student loan difficulties come in all ages, races, and fields of study. While there is no average borrower, a typical scenario is illustrated by Robert, who lives in California. In the late 1980s, he borrowed forty-two thousand dollars in undergraduate and graduate school loans, all of which were guaranteed by the federal government. His loans included funds for law school, but because of poor grades, he could not graduate. As a result, he was unable to obtain a good job, and he ended up defaulting on the debt shortly after leaving school. The loans were referred to Sallie Mae for collection.

Robert rehabilitated his loans in the 1990s and has made the monthly payments faithfully ever since. Nonetheless, today his balance is forty-five thousand dollars. He can only afford to pay the interest (9.5 percent), which totals almost $450 a month. He says, “At this rate, I will pay Sallie Mae for the rest of my life, at a whopping total that is many multiples of the original loans.” So far, he has repaid more than fifty thousand dollars, but the amount of the principal is virtually unchanged.

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