I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby whoopsy » Tue May 14, 2013 4:59 pm

I admit that I've made some bad decisions. I am 37 years old. Have only an English degree. And am in $200k of student loan debt. Half of that is non-federal at about 7% interest variable.

How this happened is that I was a 18 year old homeless teenager when I got into a private university. Although I didn't know it at the time, my school cost more in tuition than Harvard. Prior to being homeless I was in the foster care system and never got adopted. Back then, everyone I trusted said that going to school was worth the money, including guidance counselors. I thought I was doing the right thing and thought my financial research was adequate. No one could support me during school, so I took out loans to live in an expensive city and attend an expensive university's 5 year program. Rent was about $500 a month and I had roommates and no kitchen. All I wanted was to support my own family some day and live a decent life. (I worked hard to get an A average in high school and college. Just about everyone I knew growing up never went to college.)

I don't consider the above information to be an excuse. It only explains what I did and why. The result is that I feel stuck and hopeless. I believe that I am in a financial hole that I will never dig out of. I fear that I will never have a family which was my dream. I could never marry in good conscience because my wife would inherit my debt.

I am currently paying around $1000 a month on student loans and am making little progress. About half goes to interest. I've tried getting multiple jobs before which didn't seem to help because that prevented me from getting overtime, and I got bad reviews for poor performance due to a lack of sleep. I am not a strong person. If I don't get 8 hours of sleep, I start falling asleep wherever I go.

Has anyone else been in a similar mess? Or do you have any idea what I can do about this?

Edit: I wrote more in a response below at 7pm 5/14. And on 5/16 at 7:45am and 8:15am. And on 5/17 at 1:46am.
Last edited by whoopsy on Tue May 21, 2013 11:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby market timer » Tue May 14, 2013 6:31 pm

In this situation, I'd probably move overseas to teach English.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby gerrym51 » Tue May 14, 2013 6:35 pm

whoopsy wrote:I admit that I've made some bad decisions. I am 37 years old. Have only an English degree. And am in $200k of student loan debt. Half of that is non-federal at about 7% interest variable.

How this happened is that I was a 18 year old homeless teenager when I got into a private university. Although I didn't know it at the time, my school cost more in tuition than Harvard. Prior to being homeless I was in the foster care system and never got adopted. Back then, everyone I trusted said that going to school was worth the money, including guidance counselors. I thought I was doing the right thing and thought my financial research was adequate. No one could support me during school, so I took out loans to live in an expensive city and attend an expensive university's 5 year program. Rent was about $500 a month and I had roommates and no kitchen. All I wanted was to support my own family some day and live a decent life. (I worked hard to get an A average in high school and college. Just about everyone I knew growing up never went to college.)

I don't consider the above information to be an excuse. It only explains what I did and why. The result is that I feel stuck and hopeless. I believe that I am in a financial hole that I will never dig out of. I fear that I will never have a family which was my dream. I could never marry in good conscience because my wife would inherit my debt.

I am currently paying around $1000 a month on student loans and am making little progress. About half goes to interest. I've tried getting multiple jobs before which didn't seem to help because that prevented me from getting overtime, and I got bad reviews for poor performance due to a lack of sleep. I am not a strong person. If I don't get 8 hours of sleep, I start falling asleep wherever I go.

Has anyone else been in a similar mess? Or do you have any idea what I can do about this?


i'd say declare bankruptcy but i'm not sure student loans can be discharged. anyways get a lawyer.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby Equitius » Tue May 14, 2013 6:36 pm

Normally, student loans cannot be included in a bankruptcy filing, unless you can show that your education loan payment is an undue hardship on you. :twisted:

It is difficult to prove "undue hardship" unless you are physically unable to work and there is no chance of your making money. To discharge your student loans under this special case, you must file a separate motion with the bankruptcy court and present your situation before a judge.

If your student loans are the largest part of your debt, you are better off not filing for bankruptcy because courts are very reluctant to discharge student loans.

If you're having trouble making your payments, contact your student loan lenders and see if you can arrange an easier repayment plan.
Last edited by Equitius on Tue May 14, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby gerrym51 » Tue May 14, 2013 6:37 pm

Equitius wrote:Normally, student loans cannot be included in a bankruptcy filing, unless you can show that your education loan payment is an undue hardship on you. :twisted:



sounds to me it could be undue hardship. get a lawyer
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby Equitius » Tue May 14, 2013 6:40 pm

How to get student loans forgiven

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013 ... sallie-mae

Most courts use something called the Brunner test to decide if your student debts cause you "undue hardship," which is necessary for getting all or part of the loans written off. The Brunner test requires proving three things in your adversary petition: first, that you cannot maintain a minimal standard of living for yourself and your dependents while making your loan payments; second, that this situation is likely to persist (sometimes called the "certainty of hopelessness"); and third, that you have made a good-faith effort to repay your loans.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby bigspender » Tue May 14, 2013 6:43 pm

Question. When I was 18, my parents had to cosign the student loan. So unless things have changed, who cosigned your loan?
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby market timer » Tue May 14, 2013 6:44 pm

bigspender wrote:Question. When I was 18, my parents had to cosign the student loan. So unless things have changed, who cosigned your loan?

I received student loans at age 18 with no cosigner. This was in the late 90s.
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby Equitius » Tue May 14, 2013 6:46 pm

When I got out in '92, I had $9,600 in debt. I am so thankful! It was paid of YEARS ago. I chose a small private school in my state in lieu of going to the University of Chicago, where I was also accepted. My debt there would have been extraordinary so I am glad I didn't go to Cook Co.!
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I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, etc.)

Postby HomerJ » Tue May 14, 2013 6:47 pm

Do you have a job? How much do you make? What are your expenses?
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby gips » Tue May 14, 2013 6:49 pm

the peace corp offers partial cancellation for perkins loans:

http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/whyvol/finben/faq/
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby furwut » Tue May 14, 2013 6:56 pm

Federal Loan Forgiveness.

Teaching

Students who become full-time teachers in an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families can have a portion of their Perkins Loan forgiven under The National Defense Education Act. This program forgives 15% of your loan for the first and second years of teaching service, 20% for the third and fourth, and 30% for the fifth. Contact your school district's administration to see which schools are eligible.



http://www.finaid.org/loans/forgiveness.phtml
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby market timer » Tue May 14, 2013 6:58 pm

Perkins loans will only be a small fraction of the total outstanding. OP's problem is that half the loans are private, so even something like IBR/PAYE won't clean the slate. There are really only two roads out of this; get a high paying job in the US or start over somewhere else (edit: or deal with a lifetime of wage and Social Security garnishment).
Last edited by market timer on Tue May 14, 2013 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I screwed up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby whoopsy » Tue May 14, 2013 7:00 pm

HomerJ wrote:Do you have a job? How much do you make? What are your expenses?


I made around 50k before going on disability with a seizure disorder. Disability pays $1400 a month and I hope I'll be off of that within a year. I called Sallie Mae and my other lenders. $1000 a month is as low as they will go. I cannot postpone payments on the private loans. Federal loans are in forbearance and not counted in the $1000 a month payment. I've thought about trying to get into a graduate program to make more money, but fear that could also make the problem worse. I might try bankruptcy. My only concerns about bankruptcy are that I suspect it might make me ineligible for more student loans, eliminating the possibility of returning to school to qualify for a job with better income. And I've not accumulated any other debt, just the student loans. (Normally my monthly income goes: + $2500 - $1000 loans - $1000 rent for tiny studio - $50 internet - $30 utilities - $200 food - $100 savings = $100 est. misc.)

I asked about the IBR plan for federal half of my loans, but they require a $450 a month payment. The reason is that the federal government doesn't take private loan payments or rent into consideration when calculating your income-based payment. I wish I could afford that.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby furwut » Tue May 14, 2013 7:09 pm

market timer wrote:Perkins loans will only be a small fraction of the total outstanding.


Half of OP's debt is Federal. Are there Federal loans that don't qualify for forgiveness? I know nothing of these things. My thinking was that if 5 years of teaching could erase the federal debt and OP used the Summers off to work double-time maybe that would do it..
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby market timer » Tue May 14, 2013 7:13 pm

furwut wrote:
market timer wrote:Perkins loans will only be a small fraction of the total outstanding.


Half of OP's debt is Federal. Are there Federal loans that don't qualify for forgiveness? I know nothing of these things. My thinking was that if 5 years of teaching could erase the federal debt and OP used the Summers off to work double-time maybe that would do it..

The passage you quoted is for Perkins loans, which are likely to be less than 25% of OP's federal loans. OP could qualify for IBR/PAYE forgiveness after 20-25 years of having a low income, or PSLF for working at a nonprofit for 10 years, but what about the private loans? Note that OP isn't paying anything on the federal loans currently, so they are just accruing interest. Likely, $1K/month would just keep the total loan balance constant.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby HardKnocker » Tue May 14, 2013 7:35 pm

"I [messed] up - Now what?"

Now, you pay back the loans. Nobody put a gun to your head to take those loans did they? You are a grown up. Pay back the loans. Get to work.
Last edited by HardKnocker on Tue May 14, 2013 7:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby momar » Tue May 14, 2013 7:38 pm

HardKnocker wrote:"I [messed] up - Now what?"

Now, you pay back the loans. Nobody put a gun to your head to take those loans did they? You are a grown up. Pay back the loans. Get to work.

Ah, the American dream. Indentured servitude. Just like back in the 1600s. Nothing like the decisions one makes at 18 to govern the next 60 years.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby HardKnocker » Tue May 14, 2013 7:42 pm

momar wrote:
HardKnocker wrote:"I [messed] up - Now what?"

Now, you pay back the loans. Nobody put a gun to your head to take those loans did they? You are a grown up. Pay back the loans. Get to work.

Ah, the American dream. Indentured servitude. Just like back in the 1600s. Nothing like the decisions one makes at 18 to govern the next 60 years.


By 70 years old he should be free and clear. :oops:

What happens if he just refuses to pay? They garnish wages? Put a judgement on him? Time to test the system. Perhaps get a new identity and start over or as someone else suggested, leave the country.

We have to remember this guy is not 18 anymore. He is 37. What has he been doing for the past 14 years? Too bad a college degree cannot be repossessed like a car. Just take the sheepskin back, call it even.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby ddunca1944 » Tue May 14, 2013 7:48 pm

If you are single, I'd seriously consider teaching English overseas. Lots of places hire English teachers (they want a degree). The daughter of some friends did this for 20 years teaching English all over the world. She eventually got a Masters and is now back home teaching at the local CC. She started out with just an English degree. The cost of living in many of these places is quite low and you can save money if you are frugal.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby sage1166 » Tue May 14, 2013 8:18 pm

Along the lines of leaving the country...

Enroll in college courses enough to defer payment. Some loans require only half-time enrollment, possibly including community college courses.

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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Juniper » Tue May 14, 2013 8:25 pm

Whoopsy,

Do I have this correct? --
While you were working and making 50k gross / 2500/mo net, you were paying $1000/month on the loans, all of which was going to the private loans, and none to federal because they were in forebearance?
Now that you are receiving $1400/mo disability, are you still making the $1000/mo payments, or none at all? (or some?)

Have you made any progress in paying them down? What was balance at its peak? When you were paying 1000/month, were those private balances going down faster than the federal balances were going up through accrued interest?

It might be helpful if you could provide every loan's:
principal amount,
interest rate (and if fixed or variable)
amount you were paying,
amount you are paying.
Then we can provide some strategies and goal amounts to pay per month to get it paid off in certain amounts of time.

It's definitely going to require radical action. I'd certainly explore all the options given above regarding loan forgiveness, working abroad, and even discharge through bankruptcy if its really possible. I'd also google things like: "Living well on practically nothing", and "Your Money or Your Life" .. and then get the books by those titles (from the library! :D ). I'd look at the posts at earlyretirementextreme.com for examples of seemingly crazy frugal living.

Do you have anything of value you can sell? Is there any part time work you can get while disabled? When you go back to work, can you work two jobs? Can you move in with roommates and save on rent? Leave no stone unturned.

This is a bloody royal mess, but it might not be entirely impossible. Best of luck.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Colorado13 » Tue May 14, 2013 8:26 pm

I don't really have advice, but wanted to wish you the best. It can be difficult to make some lifelong decisions as a teenager, particularly without positive parental/guardian guidance. It doesn't sound like you are making excuses, but are trying to move forward in a positive manner. Hopefully others have/will provide more useful advice; I just wanted to send a message of support.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby EmergDoc » Tue May 14, 2013 9:56 pm

All these people are giving this dire advice to someone with a college degree and $200K in loans but no one seems to think it an issue that docs are now coming out with $5-600K. The $300Ks seem routine now. One financial advisor told me he saw someone in the $700Ks. If $200K is a problem for a college grad, then $400K is just as much of a problem for a doc.

He can see if he can get a job with loan repayment, perhaps qualify for a federal forgiveness program for part of it, and work hard and pay the rest back.

As the OP readily admits, he made some bad decisions (expensive school, English major, and I have no idea what he's been doing for the last 15 years or so.) Unfortunately decisions carry consequences. Not all of those decisions were made at age 18. He can probably get some help, but he's still going to have some heavy lifting to do.

OP- I wouldn't somehow feel unworthy of having a family because of your debt. The important thing isn't where you are, but which direction you're moving in. Market-timer, who responded above, was $200K in debt a few years ago as I recall. He's doing fine now.

The solution is almost surely to increase your income. It isn't to work more, but to get paid more for the work you do. Maybe sales, real estate, start a business etc. I can't imagine teaching English in Thailand pays all that well. Frankly, you being on disability is going to be a far bigger turn-off than your debt. See if you can get your seizures under reasonable control and get to work.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby inbox788 » Tue May 14, 2013 10:37 pm

market timer wrote:OP could qualify for IBR/PAYE forgiveness after 20-25 years of having a low income, or PSLF for working at a nonprofit for 10 years, but what about the private loans? Note that OP isn't paying anything on the federal loans currently, so they are just accruing interest. Likely, $1K/month would just keep the total loan balance constant.

I think starting IBR on the federal loans is probably the fastest way to get rid of them, especially with government or non-profit work reducing the term to 10 years. As far as the private loans, I think they're dischargeable in bankruptcy. Now IBR seems worth doing, but not clear on bankruptcy. It's a heavy burden, but depending on the job attainable, not insurmountable. It's about the size of an average mortgage. Were you ever interested in law? Maybe paralegal work? Or other high paying job that doesn't require an advance degree. http://career-advice.monster.com/salary ... ticle.aspx

EmergDoc wrote:All these people are giving this dire advice to someone with a college degree and $200K in loans but no one seems to think it an issue that docs are now coming out with $5-600K. The $300Ks seem routine now. One financial advisor told me he saw someone in the $700Ks. If $200K is a problem for a college grad, then $400K is just as much of a problem for a doc.


Wow, those are high numbers, but depending on specialty, they can be reasonably paid back. I've heard of graduates spending $500,000 or more after graduation to startup a practice. They get signature loans and moderately high interest rates, yet they pay them back, and they have some student debt to pay back as well. Paying back $300k for someone making over $100k and growing isn't as big a burden as someone who probably won't make more than $80k for decades and starting far lower trying to pay off $200k. Now $500-600k becomes more burdensome, and $700k might be the equivalent breaking point. Plus OP has medical issues, and little relief. I would have though forbearance would be automatic, but apparently not.

OP, for cash flow, look to see if something like part time school would be less costly in the short run (though your interest accrues and you'll pay more in the long run - maybe not with IBR).

http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/de ... orbearance
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Caduceus » Wed May 15, 2013 3:21 am

Don't give up. There is always hope.

You may have to get creative. Can you find a way to radically knock down your rent? For instance, can you take a house-sitting arrangement in your area? In places with schools/universities, professors sometimes leave the area for an entire year on sabbatical, and would be willing to let you stay in their house for free in exchange for looking after the place. Apart from your rent ($1000), it doesn't seem you can cut down the rest of your expenses very much more. Would living overseas and teaching English there help you to save more money? There are some positions in schools (e.g. in-residence student counselors, where the rent is free/subsidized - the real "salary" on those jobs is quite high in those cases because you are not spending anything on rent)

Is there a way to borrow money cheaply to pay off these loans at 7%? Do you have close friends who trust you to pay them back if you borrow money from them? Just thinking out of the box since this seems like a difficult situation that conventional solutions may not resolve: Can you borrow $5,000 from 20 people (or $2,500 from 40 people) at 2 - 3% interest (not much better than a CD return, and more risky as a personal loan, but as a favor to you) with a formal note to repay them at a certain date? What is making things difficult for you right now is the high rate of interest on the loans ... which makes it seem like one step forward, one step back.

Can you create side income based on your skills? What about tutoring SAT/GRE for private prep agencies? (The per hour rate can be quite high - you'll be surprised). Can you identify a niche area in your city? Are there foreign students who want to improve their English or who need help passing the TOEFL exam? There are English-language tutors who earn bucketloads of money helping students to game these exams.

These strategies in tandem may help you get in control of the debt. It's easier said than done, but: Move somewhere cheaper/free, work a day job and create a weekend income-stream (tutoring, etc.) and leverage on your social network for help (not necessarily just with arbitraging of interest but with networks and opportunities).

Would it be a good idea to try to connect with those in a similar predicament who are also taking charge of their debt so that you have some support and can motivate each other? Not sure how you can identify/find these people, but this seems like a difficult struggle to tackle on your own.

Good luck. Ignore those who seem judgmental. I hope that things get better for you. Take care, stick around this forum ... many of the people here I am sure will have great suggestions.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Bob's not my name » Wed May 15, 2013 4:42 am

whoopsy wrote:my school cost more in tuition than Harvard
When you were 18 tuition and fees at Harvard were $16,500. Five years couldn't have cost more than $100,000, assuming a homeless teenager got zero financial aid.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby l2ridehd » Wed May 15, 2013 5:40 am

Sorry, but I have to agree with the crowd on this one. You chose the phrase "I messed up" and yet you want to take on more debt to get more education to make more money? Have you not learned anything about college debt to job ratios? DO NOT take on more debt for anything until you resolve this problem. Go spend $20 for Dave Ramseys book on getting out of debt.

You need to reduce expenses to the bare minimum, find additional part time work, and pay off these loans as fast as humanly possible. I still can't reconcile how you accumulated 200K in debt in 5 years of college in the 90's. But you made these choices, so now you need to fix them. I believe with the proper application of frugal living and extra work, you could be debt free in 5 to 7 years. Bite the bullet and get working on paying back these loans as fast as you can.

We have all had some mountains to climb. Mine was $270,000 paid back over 5 years at $4500 a month that I had to borrow part of the payments and deplete savings to accomplish. But I found a way to do it and it helped me save a lot more when I finished the payments.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby frugaltype » Wed May 15, 2013 6:16 am

whoopsy wrote:I could never marry in good conscience because my wife would inherit my debt.


I'm not sure what you mean by "inherit your debt." Your family finances would be impacted by your debt, but what would make your wife liable for it?
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby HardKnocker » Wed May 15, 2013 7:42 am

To OP: What college did you attend?
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby tylerherman » Wed May 15, 2013 1:38 pm

200K can be done but it doesn't sound like it's possible for you if you're on disability.

Get out of the city you're in you are paying way to much money for a studio. Go check out Mr.MoneyMustache and Early Retirement Extreme to learn to live within a much smaller budget. You need to cut your living expenses significantly, by more than half would be ideal. You also need to get a second job or do whatever it takes to increase your income. Another $20k will go a long way.

If you're not doing those things just expect to be paying $1000 a month for the next 20 years+. Look into student loan forgiveness.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Wed May 15, 2013 2:25 pm

EmergDoc wrote:All these people are giving this dire advice to someone with a college degree and $200K in loans but no one seems to think it an issue that docs are now coming out with $5-600K. The $300Ks seem routine now. One financial advisor told me he saw someone in the $700Ks. If $200K is a problem for a college grad, then $400K is just as much of a problem for a doc.

The solution is almost surely to increase your income. It isn't to work more, but to get paid more for the work you do. Maybe sales, real estate, start a business etc. I can't imagine teaching English in Thailand pays all that well. Frankly, you being on disability is going to be a far bigger turn-off than your debt. See if you can get your seizures under reasonable control and get to work.


What's the difference between an MD, DDS and an English major? An MD and DDS can nearly always find an opportunity - worldwide and litterally work or not until they decide to stop (leaving disability aside for the moment). An English major if working for someone other than themselves will likely have limited income opportunity, a finite work lifespan and oh, be in competition with millions of others. If we have 300 million people in this country, how many doctors vs. English or other non licensed majors do we have? Not everyone can be a doctor, however most can be an English or other major, higher supply usually impacts demand and compensation. Who's income is much higher after ten years, on average? I say this to enlighten those of other licensed professions who think they have as much of a problem as average folk - um, not really. It's like the CEO of a company complaining that their income is equally as impacted as the guy on the production line due to the economy, the main dfference is the CEO can afford to go on vacation to Disneyland, Bali or Monaco (Joe Average is lucky they can get to the local beach), doesn't sweat paying the mortgage if they have one and doesn't have to worry about paying the utility bill, not so much for Joe Average.

The OP is in a tough bind for which there are no easy fixes. The debt is not going to go away, and finding a mate who lacks any debt is also becoming more difficult as time passes. The OP doesn't indicate what line of work he was in prior to disability, my only thought is to use the English major to leverage into another field that utilizes those skills but offers a chance at higher pay down the road. Breaking into high level sales at age 37 is going to be a tough sell to the hiring crowd who litterally have their pick of the last 5 graduating classes including this years crop.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby yosef » Wed May 15, 2013 2:46 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:All these people are giving this dire advice to someone with a college degree and $200K in loans but no one seems to think it an issue that docs are now coming out with $5-600K. The $300Ks seem routine now. One financial advisor told me he saw someone in the $700Ks. If $200K is a problem for a college grad, then $400K is just as much of a problem for a doc.

The solution is almost surely to increase your income. It isn't to work more, but to get paid more for the work you do. Maybe sales, real estate, start a business etc. I can't imagine teaching English in Thailand pays all that well. Frankly, you being on disability is going to be a far bigger turn-off than your debt. See if you can get your seizures under reasonable control and get to work.


What's the difference between an MD, DDS and an English major? An MD and DDS can nearly always find an opportunity - worldwide and litterally work or not until they decide to stop (leaving disability aside for the moment). An English major if working for someone other than themselves will likely have limited income opportunity, a finite work lifespan and oh, be in competition with millions of others. If we have 300 million people in this country, how many doctors vs. English or other non licensed majors do we have? Not everyone can be a doctor, however most can be an English or other major, higher supply usually impacts demand and compensation. Who's income is much higher after ten years, on average? I say this to enlighten those of other licensed professions who think they have as much of a problem as average folk - um, not really. It's like the CEO of a company complaining that their income is equally as impacted as the guy on the production line due to the economy, the main dfference is the CEO can afford to go on vacation to Disneyland, Bali or Monaco (Joe Average is lucky they can get to the local beach), doesn't sweat paying the mortgage if they have one and doesn't have to worry about paying the utility bill, not so much for Joe Average.

The OP is in a tough bind for which there are no easy fixes. The debt is not going to go away, and finding a mate who lacks any debt is also becoming more difficult as time passes. The OP doesn't indicate what line of work he was in prior to disability, my only thought is to use the English major to leverage into another field that utilizes those skills but offers a chance at higher pay down the road. Breaking into high level sales at age 37 is going to be a tough sell to the hiring crowd who litterally have their pick of the last 5 graduating classes including this years crop.


Agree totally. Sure students with professional degrees like MDs have more debt. But the disparity between them and someone with a Bachelors (in English no less) with respect to income potential is significantly larger.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Wed May 15, 2013 2:52 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:
whoopsy wrote:my school cost more in tuition than Harvard
When you were 18 tuition and fees at Harvard were $16,500. Five years couldn't have cost more than $100,000, assuming a homeless teenager got zero financial aid.


It could if interest was accruing throughout the deferral period prior to loan repayment. In the 90's, student loan interest rates were in the 8-9% range. I know, because I had loans back then, the rate was 8.5% and that was a Federal Stafford loan.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby awval999 » Wed May 15, 2013 3:00 pm

Meh--- I'm going to say something that may be divisive or whatever....

Buy a one way ticket to a 3rd world country and teach English.

Forget your student debt.

Maybe one day it will be forgiven. Pick Taiwan, Thailand, India, China, Mexico, the Emirites or something like that. Find a cutie over there. Spend your days over there. Make enough money for food, a ratty-tatty shelter, and transportation. You can always come back to the States to visit any family or whatever--- they aren't going to deny you a Visa or entry over student loan debt.

Honestly--- making $30k/year after taxes and whatnot is only going to $25k or so. Unless you are living with someone who will shelter, feed and cloth you, you won't be able to pay off your loans for a decade. And that's with every dollar going toward it. Not in the realm of possibility.

Let's just be honest. You have no way of legally paying these student loans off. Especially if most are the private loans which are unable to be loan forgiven. If you had 100% of Stafford loans I'd say just make the 15% IBR payments for life.

Go--- fly--- be free---
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby inbox788 » Wed May 15, 2013 4:39 pm

Whatever you wind up doing, keep informed about your options and newest changes. Student loan reform is in crisis and reforms are likely.

You are not alone:
http://www.ibtimes.com/student-debt-cri ... loan-terms

Like mortgage foreclosure, lenders are unlikely to act until the borrower demonstrates distress. You might have to miss some payments before you get their attention.

http://www.finaid.org/loans/settlements.phtml

Private loans may be settled, possibly under the threat of bankruptcy or discharged in bankruptcy. Much harder for federal loans, but not impossible. There's a good chance your credit will be shot for a number of years, so keep that in mind and prepare for it.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Randomize » Wed May 15, 2013 5:27 pm

All,
The $200K doubtless includes a load of interest. He wasn't making payments while in school and both the private loans and unsubsidized Federal loans will rake it up even while deferred.

EmergDoc,
Your comments about doctors having more debt aren't very helpful. Doctors get paid 10 times what an English major does so having 2 or 3 times the debt is not somehow equivalent.

OP,
Here's a link on Loan Forgiveness programs that might be helpful to you: http://www.finaid.org/loans/forgiveness.phtml. If you're at all interested in teaching, it looks like there are a number of programs that would at least help with your Federal loans. In addition to loan forgiveness programs, there are very decent pay bonuses for teaching in low income areas. Teacher pay is nothing to get excited about but it's good for an English major and the system can be worked to your benefit. Good luck!
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby lovestotravel » Wed May 15, 2013 5:51 pm

gips wrote:the peace corp offers partial cancellation for perkins loans:

http://www.peacecorps.gov/learn/whyvol/finben/faq/



I was in the Peace Corps. The loan forgiveness when I served only covered 10% of the Perkins loan each year. In my case, it was a few hundred dollars. I supposed it cancelled out the fact that I wasn't making payments. I always urge people to join the Peace Corps if they're interested in travel and service. As much as I love the Peace Corps, there's no financial benefit to joining.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Bob's not my name » Wed May 15, 2013 6:00 pm

Still having trouble with the math. Accumulating interest while in school doesn't get you to $200,000.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Randomize » Wed May 15, 2013 6:09 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:Still having trouble with the math. Accumulating interest while in school doesn't get you to $200,000.


The unsubsidized Federal loans, if they've been deferred, are still racking up interest today. Does that help?
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby vveat » Wed May 15, 2013 6:24 pm

Check indeed whether the private loans could be discharged through bankruptcy. 13 years ago I was in business school, all through private loans - as an immigrant I didn't qualify for anything federal. We ended up with more than $100K in debt (it was an Ivy). I paid off my debt 5 years ago, by having the right job and being frugal. My b-school roommate with the same level of debt could hardly make a dent, so a few years ago he declared bankruptcy and everything was discharged. At best I can tell it hasn't hurt him much, he is still getting credit card offers in the mail.
At your age further education would be of a more limited value, unless you have a very specific plan. Companies tend to hire out of grad school people in their early 30s. I wouldn't let that deter you from a possible solution.

If you clear half of your loans through the bankruptcy and look into partial forgiveness for the federal you may have a more manageable situation. Do consult a lawyer though before taking a decision.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby EmergDoc » Wed May 15, 2013 8:35 pm

brianbooth wrote: EmergDoc,
Your comments about doctors having more debt aren't very helpful. Doctors get paid 10 times what an English major does so having 2 or 3 times the debt is not somehow equivalent.


First of all, lots of doctors ARE English majors. The two are not exclusive. Second, "an English major" isn't a job, and that's this fella's great problem. He is or should be ~15 years out of college and has no significant income. He doesn't need a major, he needs a job. There are lots of things that English majors can do like starting a company, getting into real estate, or working for someone else. He could get a certificate and teach. The professions are also an option. They certainly aren't limited to things like "teaching English."

Third, doctors might be paid 10 times as much as "English majors" but they're not generally paid 10 times as much as an English major with a job. Consider a high school English teacher making $50K plus benefits. An average doc makes $200K without benefits. At best, that's 4 times as much, and that doesn't consider the years of lost income, higher education debt and higher tax burden. Perhaps after all that it's only 2 times as much. I ran into a resident the other day whose student loans were up to $520K and growing at 7%. Can you imagine? That's $35K a year in interest.

I'm just saying in his situation it's probably easier to grow his income rather than cutting his expenses.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby market timer » Wed May 15, 2013 8:37 pm

EmergDoc wrote:I ran into a resident the other day whose student loans were up to $520K and growing at 7%. Can you imagine? That's $35K a year in interest.

Does this resident have plans of using IBR/PAYE or PSLF?
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Boglenaut » Wed May 15, 2013 8:42 pm

HardKnocker wrote:"I [messed] up - Now what?"

Now, you pay back the loans. Nobody put a gun to your head to take those loans did they? You are a grown up. Pay back the loans. Get to work.


:oops:

I suspect that is not the kind of advice OP was looking for.

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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby momar » Wed May 15, 2013 8:50 pm

EmergDoc wrote:
brianbooth wrote: EmergDoc,
Your comments about doctors having more debt aren't very helpful. Doctors get paid 10 times what an English major does so having 2 or 3 times the debt is not somehow equivalent.


First of all, lots of doctors ARE English majors. The two are not exclusive. Second, "an English major" isn't a job, and that's this fella's great problem. He is or should be ~15 years out of college and has no significant income. He doesn't need a major, he needs a job. There are lots of things that English majors can do like starting a company, getting into real estate, or working for someone else. He could get a certificate and teach. The professions are also an option. They certainly aren't limited to things like "teaching English."

Third, doctors might be paid 10 times as much as "English majors" but they're not generally paid 10 times as much as an English major with a job. Consider a high school English teacher making $50K plus benefits. An average doc makes $200K without benefits. At best, that's 4 times as much, and that doesn't consider the years of lost income, higher education debt and higher tax burden. Perhaps after all that it's only 2 times as much. I ran into a resident the other day whose student loans were up to $520K and growing at 7%. Can you imagine? That's $35K a year in interest.

I'm just saying in his situation it's probably easier to grow his income rather than cutting his expenses.

He already posted that he had a job paying 50k before having to go on disability. Maybe that's what he was doing for those 15 years: working.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby awval999 » Wed May 15, 2013 10:49 pm

Why do physicians feel the need to butt into every thread about student loans with their own stories? And then the anti-physician posters chime in with their anti-doc comments. It's quite annoying to be honest.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby inbox788 » Thu May 16, 2013 12:27 am

vveat wrote:At best I can tell it hasn't hurt him much, he is still getting credit card offers in the mail.

getting offers is easy. I've heard of dogs and dead people getting offers. Approvals Is another thing, but I assume he has decent income, and those that have filed for bankruptcy before might be more likely to be carrying the high interest. Credit card companies love those bad credit history folks that keep paying high interest. At 20% plus, then can afford some bankruptcies. Late fees and over limit fees is another cash cow.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby thebogledude » Thu May 16, 2013 1:09 am

I notice that paying the monthly payment doesn't make that much of a dent in my student loans. To really chip away at it you have to make the monthly payment plus some principal. Then you'll really see some results.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby wander » Thu May 16, 2013 2:09 am

With 7% interest, $1,000 a month should not make any progress at all since what you are paying is less than the interest.
If you want to pay it off in 30 years, you must pay at least $1330 a month.
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Re: I [messed] up - Now what? ($200k in student loan debt, e

Postby Bob's not my name » Thu May 16, 2013 2:59 am

wander wrote:With 7% interest, $1,000 a month should not make any progress at all since what you are paying is less than the interest.
whoopsy wrote:Half of that is non-federal at about 7% interest variable.

I am currently paying around $1000 a month on student loans and am making little progress. About half goes to interest.
This is a math-challenged thread. Mostly because we don't know the OP's true situation so we're all guessing.
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