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.