Dear Friends and Supporters:
I'm looking for volunteers willing to share their stories publicly for several campaigns about student debt. Right now, I'm looking for volunteers that fall into either one of two categories:
1) If you're a high school senior, or know of one who plans on attending college this fall (and taking out student loans to go), and you're willing to publicly share your story about how the looming interest rate hike on Federal Loans (from 3.4% to 6.8%) this summer will affect you, your choice of school, your ability to repay upon graduation, etc. then please click here to send me a brief synopsis of your story.
2) Looking for former students with a significant student loan debt, willing to share their student loan horror stories. For this one, I'm particularly interested in some of the more egregious examples of predatory lending, unfair debt collections practices, harassment, getting slammed by interest, fees, penalties such that you owe significantly more than you borrowed, etc. If interested in participating, please click here to send me a brief synopsis of your story.
Please note that, even if you've previously sent me your story, if you're interested in participating in these projects, I'll need you to re-send your story to me. When I solicit stories from people, I assume they're only granting me permission to use it for the specific reason I mentioned when I originally asked. I do not assume that, by sharing your story, you automatically grant me permission to use it for any purpose.
Thanks for your time and cooperation!
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April 22, 2012
PLEASE, President Obama sign this legislation into law.
I am soon to be 63. I was a non-traditional student when I finally started college at age 40 back in 1990. I ended up graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors in my two degrees, which I did simultaneously. I have a Journalism - Magazine Sequence Degree and a BA in Communication - TV, Film, Radio Degree both from the University of Missouri - Columbia.
I have been and still am a single mom of 40 years to two lovely, successful young women who are also saddled with student loan debt. They are also single Moms raising my three precious grandsons. I diligently pursued my degrees with the hope of improving my financial position for my daughters and myself. However, I am now living the worst nightmare of my life.
I owe over $70,000.00 in student loan debt. Over half of this is accrued interest and penalties because for the last 17 years I have had to defer my loans due to financial hardship.
When I graduated I had such high hopes. Then, after four frustrating years of earnestly applying for positions in my new fields of study and working two or three part-time jobs at a time, I came to the sad realization that no one wanted a 50-year-old woman fresh out of college. And, I still had a teenage daughter at home.
I have worked hard all my life and even started working at age 13. In early 2000 I had to switch gears again and began studies in the insurance profession. I am currently and have worked in the insurance profession for twelve 12 years. Kind of ironic, wouldn't you say?
Enter another setback. In 2004, after I had several good years in my new field, I was severely injured and for the next three years I had three surgeries and was unable to work 26 months out of 36 months. Well, in my field if I can't work I don't get paid. I work on straight commission - no regular payday. I am a 1099 tax payer. So can you see the major problem I ran into? Everything I was able to save went to pay normal living expenses, bills and massive medical bills. I have lost my retirement and I will have to work until the day I die. That is unless I can write a great book or screenplay - LOL. I had to insert some humor because this all weighs on me so heavily.
My student loans have now gone into collection and AES is threatening me with garnishment - Happy Birthday to me on May 2nd when I turn 63. I only made $30k something last year and $5733.00 of that was my Social Security and $2628.00 was a small pension I receive from a previous employer.
This certainly is not how I imagined my golden years to play out. This student loan situation is just all wrong. Plus no one will listen to your requests for help at Sallie Mae. Also,now that my loans are in collection the folks at AES, the collection agency for Sallie Mae, for sure don't listen to me. They are just through-and-through mean, nasty and threatening.
I have lost my home, my credit is shot and I will more than likely never be able to buy a home again because of all this. What I do still seem to have though is my Faith and Hope. My self esteem most of the time is pretty much shot but if it weren't for my Faith and Hope, which I have only by the grace of God, I think I would already be six feet under due to the tremendous stress I live with and have lived with for far too many years.
I know I'm not the only one in this situation and I am sure there may even be folks in far worst positions than mine. So my greatest and constant prayer is the same now as it has been for years and years - "Dear Heavenly Father please lead me out of this financial dessert that I have wandered in for 40 years."