A few days ago I stumbled on this article about a man robbing a bank in hopes of going to jail because he had student debt. He asked for $500 and told cops he wanted to go to jail for a long time. The article may seem a bit far-fetched but I have to admit this has been an option that came up in my ways to avoid paying off my student loan debt conversations and thoughts (alongside being a perpetual student and death). Considering how much we spend on prisoners, having free food, shelter, healthcare plus education doesn’t seem like such a bad thing when you’re facing a lifetime of debilitating debt you can’t afford to pay. Some people are in more desperate situations than I am and going to jail is not currently an option for me, nor is death/suicide. I have a husband who can fully support me and with the help of my co-signer and father, I will pay off my debts. Hopefully sooner rather than later!
I have to be honest and say that if my situation were completely different, I might consider some drastic/desperate measures to pay off my student debt. If I didn’t have my husband to support me, I would probably still be working part-time at the library making minimum wage and having to resort to credit cards to pay rent with no idea how to afford my student loan payments. I would be without health insurance as well. As a cancer survivor, that is a necessity. I am very fortunate to not be in that situation and I feel for those who do find themselves worse off. I’ve heard too many stories of suicides due to student debt.
On a more positive note, Senators Durbin (IL), Harkin (IA) and Franken (MN) are reintroducing important bills to restore bankruptcy protections to student loans and to help students avoid taking on unnecessary private student loans with the Know Before You Owe Act of 2013 and the Fairness For Struggling Students Act of 2013. Last year only Democrats co-sponsored those bills. My congressman at the new apartment will be Republican. I need to make an effort to meet with him this year on multiple occasions in attempt to persuade him to co-sponsor some of these bills involving much-needed student loan reform.
I can’t stress how important these two bills are. I would not be in so much student loan debt right now if the Know Before You Owe Act of 2013 was passed a long time ago. My school had me take out private loans before I even touched federal loans. I didn’t know the difference and they took advantage of that.
Restoring bankruptcy protections for student loans may not have a direct impact on me as I never plan to file for bankruptcy, but I do believe it is a great step in putting the risk back in lending. This will help lower tuition rates when lenders are no longer willing to lend out asinine amounts to students who have a chance of finding a career after graduation. When students are unable to continue in their programs due to lack of funds, schools will be forced to lower tuition.
Bankruptcy protections should have never been removed from student loans, federal or private.