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This is the true story about how my life has been affected by a student loan. I am a 48-year-old divorced mother of six grown children. Born and raised in Texas, I was in a troubled marriage for many years. In 2001, I moved to Wisconsin to start a new life. But one part of my past still follows me like a wound that won’t heal. Don't worry, I love my country, so don't put me on a list, but this story must be told.
If you are considering a student loan to pay for any type of training, please read my story. Some schools will fool you into signing a student loan document even though you are qualified to receive a grant. Many trade schools are unable to provide adequate financial counseling. They give out student loans like candy and then expect you to pay even if your education was sour.
It may be hard to believe, but the Internal Revenue Service is actually more reasonable to work with than the U. S. Department of Education. I found this out when I tried to get an old student loan, which I had been told was a grant, discharged. When a loan is discharged, it is forgiven or dismissed. The Dept. of Education claims to have two conditions in which they will consider a loan discharge.
The two conditions are if a student was adversely affected by the closure of a School or if there was false certification of eligibility to borrow money. Having a school close before you complete your education may sound like an unlikely occurrence, but it does happen. It happened to me, even though the recorded date of closure conflicts with my claim.
Since you can get a student loan for almost any place that calls itself a school, the opportunity for student loan fraud is very real. These narrow conditions by which a student loan is eligible to be discharged is compounded by the fact that the Dept. of Ed. will not consider a loan discharge unless you are making payments on the loan, even if it was fraudulent or you can’t afford to make the payments.
I always thought that the Dept. of Education was created to help people get an education. I wanted to get an education, but unfortunately for me, the system failed. My sad story with education started when I became pregnant in high school. I was in my third year of high school when they told me to leave. I have made many attempts to get my GED and improve my education over the years. In 1992 I finally found a trade school that would accept me.
Despite the fact that I never graduated from high school, I was able to get enrolled in a cosmetology school. The school was close to my home and because of my low income; they told me that I would be eligible for a grant to pay for my tuition. I signed what I thought was a grant application, but later I discovered that it was actually a student loan application.
You might ask, how could someone not know the difference? I blame that on the owners of the school and my ex-husband, who was in-charge of the money in our household. The school deceived me by saying that the money was a grant. I'm sure that my husband took some of the money and did not start making payments when the loan became due. The loan went into default because he ignored it. He kept this from me for years and it wasn't’t until I filed for divorce that he made mention of it. To make matters worse, the school closed before I could graduate.
After my first year at the Palm Beach Beauty & Barber School, I needed to take some time off to care for my children. My children are all grown now, but back then caring for my family took a lot of my time. I’m not blaming my kids for making me unable to finish my training. The fact that the school was no longer operating at the location that I attended, when I was ready to return, is the reason that I could not finish.
Here is the information that I obtained from the Dept. of Ed. on the school I attended. The date of closure is inaccurate in their records as I was unable to attend at least two years before the date shown below.
Palm Beach Beauty & Barber
Here are the reasons why I think this loan should be discharged:
1. I did not graduate from
high school and the school administration should not have allowed me into
I have completed and submitted loan discharge forms for items one and three. The Dept. of Ed. promptly rejected each of my requests and subsequently has taken involuntary recovery action against me. I first discovered that the loan was in default after I received a letter from the IRS in 2002 stating that my tax refund was going to be sent to the Dept. of Education to pay for a loan that was in default. A Texas student loan company claimed to have papers indicating that I owed over fifteen thousand dollars in student loans.
Somehow a fifteen hundred dollar loan for a defunct beauty school had ballooned into fifteen thousand in ten years. Apparently, the loan was at a high interest rate and they were applying penalties to the loan each year that it was in default. As you can imagine, this whole situation is having a huge negative effect on my life now. My credit rating is so bad that I am unable to get a loan of any kind and now they are taking ten percent off of every one of my paychecks without my consent. I work the night shift at a Walmart Supercenter because I am unable to get a better paying job. I recently received notice that Walmart would be adding a fee to pay for processing of the student loan deduction!
I am living with a friend who has been helping me by sharing living expenses. I have no money for any kind of retirement. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills that I have to pay. My chances of getting remarried are slim because anyone who marries me would instantly become burdened by thousands of dollars in debt. How could something like this happen in a country that claims to support our need for education? Maybe Michael Moore can do his next movie on this subject :)
The Dept of Ed. has shown no sympathy for my situation. I have received many harassing calls and letters from them. But when I tell them that I was a victim of fraud and that the loan has not benefited me in any way, they ignore me and take money from my paycheck. This could easily happen to anyone. By what I have experienced, I can tell you that getting a loan is the easy part. If you cannot repay it for any reason, too bad, your life will be ruined just like mine has been.
I’m sure there are people out there who are just trying to avoid repaying their student loans. Maybe they didn't get the job they had hoped for. I did not have the opportunity to graduate. How many people have the list of reasons that I have? How could they not have sympathy for my situation? Why must they make life such a burden for me? I have heard of people with physical and mental disabilities who are unable to work try to get their loans discharged and have failed. What chance do you and I have?
After reading my story, I hope I have opened your mind to the risk you take if you get a student loan and are unable to repay your loan for any reason. I have no money to fight this in court and the amount they take from my paycheck each year doesn't even cover the annual interest at this point. Having this financial burden hanging over my head is simply unfair. They have made it so that there is truly no way that you can get rid of a bad student loan. Laws would have to change in favor of students instead of loan companies and I don't see that happening anytime soon.
If you would like to help, please purchase a copy of my novel, "In a Sense of Love". It took over four years to write and it has received great reviews. Any royalties that I get will go toward helping me recover from the terrible student loan situation that I got stuck with. Despite the title of this page, I am doing everything possible to prevent a student loan from ruining my life.
If you have reached a dead end and are completely frustrated, send me your student loan story. If your situation is similar to mine, I may post more loan stories so that people can read about those of us who have tried to have bad student loans discharged and are now facing financial ruin. If you have your own student loan donation site, please send me the link and I will list it here. I encourage you to bookmark and create links back to this site. Visit my loan update page to see how this was finally settled and for a link to more information about student loans.
Thank You, Mary Jones
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- last update:
August 12, 2012