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I graduated med school in 1991 with 132K in debt. deferred during four years of residency. loan increased several thousand dollars. another consolidated loan for about 60k same story.
curently-- our sallie mae balance is 232K because of compounding interest. We have paid close to 100K in payments over the past 11 years and still the loans increase. it's just not fair!!
We are to pay 1700. monthly, but are unable to do this. so i pay what i can each paycheck-- 300, 500, etc.
I've written to senators, congress, president, hell even oprah, but i have goten NO response from anyone on how to stop the compounding so I can pay my damn debt. any advice always taken :)



First, I want to thank you for telling your story on 60 Minutes.  I've a feeling that doing so has helped ease the pain of many people in this type of situation.

I owe probably 12k, a figure that has ballooned over the years.   From time to time, I've had to ask for forbearances; in particular, right now, I'm unemployed and, well, it's been a rough few years for me, including having filed bankruptcy (thanks to the Bush economy).

In any event, once you use up so many weeks of forbearance, that's it.  They won't give you more.  Then, you have to essentially beg for unemployment deferments and other things that don't really help. 

All the while, your interest collectively capitalizes, resulting in a more ballooned amount owed.

It's a trap.

I don't recall whether my community college pushed me in any specific lender direction, but it would be interesting to find out.

You should consider posting up a community BBS using phpBB or something somewhere - I might be able to help out, I do UNIX admin and build Internet servers for a living (DNS, Web, UNIX, et al).

Short of any new legislation, I feel pretty helpless to do anything about it.  And all the while, my credit report will inevitably be damaged further - and what can you do?  Nothing.

Frankly, it really pisses me off that SallieMae can get away with any of this.

I had a run-in with them recently, where I was badgered to give them my phone number (I refused, and told them I didn't have one).  The nature of that is they use that to harass you (and they do so continually).  I have a private number, and I intend to keep it that way - however, under these circumstances, they have refused to answer any of my written correspondence (even sent via certified mail).  Go figure.

Anyway, I'm sure there are more people out there with worse circumstances - but I wanted to again thank you for sharing your story - and let you know that you're not alone!

Feel free to write, etc.



In 2000 I decided to finally go to college at the age of 26. As an independent student who did not make a lot as a waitress I qualified for the maximum amount of federal loans for a freshman- $2625 in subsidised loans (government pays the interest in a deferment, whether an in school type of deferment or economic hardship/unemployment deferment) & $4000 unsub. where the interest accrues from day one. While no payments are required on the unsub portion, you can pay the interest as you go, which prevents it from compounding when you get out of school. No one told me I was signing for a variable rate loan, but they would have if I had asked. Honestly, I didn't care. I wanted the money to go to school & student loans aren't collateral based- no one can come repo your education if you don't pay & you don't need credit to get the loan, so I was pretty grateful. I declined the unsub money, since I was only attending part time, the subsidised portion paid for tui!
 tion and books. While it would have been great to take all that was offered & not work as much (or use the cash for a spring break trip) I understood that SOMEDAY I would have to pay it back because it was a LOAN.
In 2001 I became very ill & thought I had to have brain surgery. When I told the college they encouraged me to say in school & take private loans from my lender (rates can go as high as 21% & there is no interest subsidy) but I decided not to because I knew I would financially drown & that would make my health and hope for a future worse. So, I stopped attending & 6 months later my loans went into repayment. I had only attended for a full year, so my payment was more than $50 but less than $100 a month. I was harly making any money & was totally on my own in the world, so I struggled to pay the bills I had and chose to drive a cheap car rather than finance a nice one, I cooked at home rather than ate out, I took vacation in Maine rather than the Bahamas, etc..
In 2003 I had a miscarriage and lost my job and could not pay anything to anyone, as I had $0 income. I did not call my student loan company because I didn't see the point. I couldn't pay them. When they called me I decided to be an adult and I told them what was going on rather than hang up on them. They explained that student loans have built in options so that people don't default. They explained that if I was out of work because I was having health issues & not able to even look for work, I could request an economic hardship deferment. All I had to do was fill out 1 piece of paper & sign another that states I have $0 income (or submit pay stubs if I was working and not making enough). If I was out of work (or temping) but looking for full time work I could request an unemployment deferment. That involved filling out 1 piece of paper & registering w/ an employment agency, such as Because I only borrowed subsidised money my interest would not grow or compound !
 while I was in a deferment. If I didn't qualify for a deferment, but needed to put off payments because I wanted to buy my family Christmas presents instead of paying my student loans, I could fill out 1 piece of paper to request a forbearance from my lender. Interest in that situation would accrue, but I could pay the $15-$20 interest a month to avoid having it added to the principal balance when my forbearance was over.
Had I avoided discussing my issues, or decided to buy a $30,000 car instead of driving something reasonable, I would have probably defaulted. Federal loans don't defualt until 300 days past due, which is almost a year of not making payments. I don't understand how people think they can take out thousands of dollars in loans & not pay them ever, and nothing is going to happen. Or they take out $100,000 in loans (with a 10 year repayment term) and think their payment should be $50 a month. I've seen people with a $10 monthly payment default then freak out because their tax return is seized. I bet those people are paying a cable bill & maybe even smoking cigarettes at almost $5 a pack.
I'm sure this won't get posted because I'm not sympathetic to the cause, but seriously.. the girl with cancer could have requested loan forgiveness if she just filled out a piece of paper. My x-boyfriend's mom did it. When the loan company called they may not have been able to discuss the options with the sister becuase of privacy laws.
Help is out there if you take steps to help yourself. The money was availble for you to borrow because the generation before you paid their loans. If no one paid the $ back, how would tomorrow's children be able to borrow for their eduation. There is not a limitless supply of cash.
I have to say though, I don't think it should be legal for Sallie Mae to put in a claim to the government then collect on the loan. That must be one of those legal loopholes that no one thought about when they put the system in place. Maybe someday we can change that law. I know that if I'm in a car accident & my medical bills are paid by my health insurance company I cannot go and sue the person who hit me for the cost of those bills, only for pain and suffering, lost wages, etc associated with the accident. Collecting claims in any other situation should be the same. If Sallie Mae collects from the borrower they should have to return the money to the government. Are we sure this doesn't happen. Can you picture our government just letting them keep that money? I can't.




So...I decided to pursue a Master's Degree after I completed my undergraduate degree. My original amount owed was $40,000 for undergrad. I taught for three years overseas and repaid about $12,000. Then, three years later I entered graduate school. The amount was $29,000. In the end, it was said I owed $90,000. However, just recently I viewed my profile and it is $116,178. I make payments, but they are minimal because that is all I can afford. As an educator I wonder if I ever will be able to pay them off in this lifetime...Probably not.


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