Impossible situation

Some people seem to wonder why people who have these loans don’t just shut up and pay them already?  For thousands, if not millions of seniors, it is because paying them is impossible.  The government keeps bringing out new payment plans and claiming this solves everything.  It doesn’t.  Many can’t afford the payments, and have no way of increasing their income to do so.  Even for those who can make the payments, those payments frequently don’t even cover the interest.  Imagine how discouraging it is to pay thousands of dollars a year, only to see the debt keep growing!

This results in some seniors suffering severe stress, sleepless nights, and stress-related health conditions.  These can and do lead to premature death.

Businesses are being impacted as seniors spend more than they can afford on student loans.  Money that would have otherwise gone to consumer goods or basic living expenses is being sucked up by these loans.  See my related blog post, dated February 29, 2016.

One terrible aspect of the current laws is that when consumer protections were removed from student loans in 2005, it was made retroactive.  So people who borrowed money in the 70’s and were unable to pay it back, suddenly find themselves owing many times the original debt.  Before 2005, student loans were covered under states’ statute of limitations laws.  Loans taken out in the 1970’s had long since been cancelled under the statute of limitations.  Yet with the current draconian laws, these ancient debts were resurrected and vigorously pursued.  This is wrong.  Debts that were covered by statute of limitations laws when they were taken out, should not be subject to collection decades later.

If a senior who has these loans gets married, the spouse’s income will be counted on a income based payment plan.  Relationships suffer.  Some seniors don’t marry, knowing that their budget can’t take the pressure of even higher payments.  It is sad that they are denied being able to marry the person they love.  Others marry, not knowing how bad the laws are, and get a shock when their loan payment suddenly increases.

Student loans are a constant shadow over the lives of people who should be living out their final years in peace and tranquility.  The laws need to be changed.  The lender/loan servicer and/or harsh laws should not be the authority deciding what a senior can afford to pay.  They will squeeze the last cent possible out of the senior citizen, with no regard to quality of life.  There needs to be realistic consideration of what the person can afford to pay and still have a decent standard of living.  This is not even close to the current state of affairs.

Thomas Villalobos

Recent college grads aren’t the only ones suffering from oppressive student loans

Former California state government worker Thomas Villalobos, 66, who is currently unemployed, never thought he’d be nearing retirement and still paying off his student loan. But that’s exactly what has happened to him.

Villalobos, of Loma Rica, Calif., borrowed $12,000 to attend law school back in 1976. Since then, he has sometimes had to defer the loan payments due to a cash shortage, adding interest to the principal. Villalobos figures he’s paid $31,000 in interest over the years and the loan’s balance is right back where it started: $12,000.

Villalobos is looking for work so he can continue making the $160 monthly payments until he’s eventually free and clear. He’s also facing the prospect of watching his 15-year-old son take on student loans when he graduates from high school. “This is no way to educate American students,” Villalobos says. “It’s all about money, not education.”

If you want to help

If you know someone who is being hurt by the student loan policies or if you just think what is being done is wrong, there are ways you can help.  Feel free, encouraged even, to refer them to this blog.  So many folks I’ve spoken with about student loans have said things like “I had no idea how bad the system was.”  I’ve experienced it, and done a lot of research.  Please publicize this blog.  I haven’t been writing much lately, but the problems I’ve detailed in past blogs have not gotten better.  The pieces I’ve written are still valid.

Talk with people and tell them how bad the laws are.  Write, or better yet call, your representatives.  Repeatedly.  Weekly wouldn’t be too often.  Write newspapers.  You can friend me on Facebook under the name Keep Jessica Afloat.  There is also a group that has been working on this a long time, called Student Loan Justice.  They are also on Facebook and on Twitter.  It’s going to take a lot of pressure from those of us being hurt by the draconian laws before we see meaningful change.  Thanks for reading.