An open letter to my representatives

An open letter to our elected representatives

I am writing to appeal for help for seniors who have student loans they can’t afford to pay. It is estimated that the number of American citizens who are 60 or older with student loan debt is over two million.

I’m a military veteran who got my BA with the help of the GI bill. I easily paid off the student loan debt from that degree, which I earned in the 1980’s.

Years later, as a single parent of two elementary school aged children, I went back to school for my master’s degree. I was in my 40’s at the time. I thought I would get a better job and improve life for my family. I had a plan to pay off my loans early, well before retirement.

Despite years of looking, I never found a better job. I’m now in my 60’s, and still working as a secretary. I can’t afford the payments now, and sure won’t be able to afford them after retirement. Seniors who have these loans are not likely to find better jobs and suddenly have a big increase in their incomes. Yet, if we can’t come up with the money, under current law, the lenders can garnish our paychecks and Social Security.

This is not right. People should not be hounded until death or plunged into poverty for these loans. Since I was fearful of becoming homeless if garnished, a friend helped me start a website asking for help (keepjessicaafloat.com). I’ve noticed many appeals for help with student loans on crowd funding sites and You Tube. Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you plan. People who genuinely can’t afford to pay these loans off should not have their lives ruined just because they went back to school!

I’ve been writing to you, our elected representatives since 2010. I have also called your offices. An assistant who answered the phone told me, “We are getting hundreds of these calls.” Yet, still nothing has been done for people like me. Often when I’ve written, the only response has been a form letter saying “Thank you for your letter on student loan interest rates…” You, our representatives, seem to believe that everybody who has these loans is in their 20’s. You also seem to think that 25 year repayment plans are not a hardship. Both of these statements are wrong. Lives are being ruined because of these harsh laws. There needs to be loan forgiveness for people who can’t afford to pay and whose situation is not going to change!

Sincerely,

Jessica Hopkins

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