Student loans and getting disabled: my wife’s story

I’m going to preface this story by noting I did not need a student loan. My parents saved the money because they felt education was a priority over vacations, personal comfort, etc. Later, my father went from upper middle class to wealthy as his business grew.

My brother and sister started college in the Carter Administration, a time when guaranteed student loans were available to virtually anyone. AFAIK the interest rate was negligible, unlike what today’s students face.

I started college at the end of Zombie Reagan’s first term when those loans were no longer available. Fortunately, I chose a state school (UVM) and even the out-of-state tuition plus board was about half of what I would have owed had I attended the small liberal arts colleges I applied like Kenyon, Colby, Wesleyan, and Emory

My wife had a different background. She was the only member of her family to even attend college. She enrolled in the nursing program and Northeastern and graduated with honors.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get to work that long before she was injured on the job, only four years after graduating. Up to that point, she was making double payments on her loan.

Making matters worse was that her injury was a worker’s compensation case. She herniated her disc; blew out her knee; and had one of her cornea’s burnt trying to stop someone else’s patient from walking on a freshly waxed floor.

Worse still was she was forced back to work before she could completely heal. The hospital compounded her injuries by refusing to transfer her to a department less strenuous than the hospice floor where she worked, and that only had one Hoyer pad for like 20 patients.

So she went from paying down the bulk of her debt to being unable to pay her loans. Meanwhile, the interest accumulated, and then her debt grew substantially.

At the same time, her herniated disc got worse because the hospital putting a legal firm on retainer was prudent and they felt fought everything. They called acupuncture quackery despite having their own acupuncture clinic. They made it impossible for any competent back surgeons to operate on her because of the comp. issues. They hired a private detective to follow her from her mandated visit to the hospital’s hand-picked comp. doctor.

She had two partial disabilities, the back and her knee. She couldn’t do a job that required standing, lifting, or any kind of physical activity.

Eventually, she started making jewelry. It began as a therapy to take her mind off her herniated disc. She got good enough to sell her pieces and could teach a class. That said, she never made any real money. Her net income wasn’t even high enough to file income tax returns.

AFAIK there’s always been loan forgiveness programs after someone is injured, disabled, sick, etc. That never happened for her. Instead, her debt kept getting sold.

Each time a new debt collector got her account, she would send them her medical files. Each time, they would claim that they never received them, even when they were all sent in a manner that left a paper train and required a signature. Each time this happened, her debt increased as did the harassment, the threats, and the humiliation.

When we are married, we filed jointly. Yoink, our refund was pocketed and given to the company servicing the debt. Ultimately, we paid off the remainder of her loan. It took several years but we did, although getting documentation that she no longer owed any money was like pulling teeth.

The long-winded point here is that people’s circumstances change. She went from being able to nearly pay off her loan to default.

Senator Warren is right. Students should be able to get loans for the same 0-1% that we loaned Wall Street firms. Student loans have a vice-like grip on young people today. The interest is obscene. One wonders if higher education is even worth going into a lifetime of debt.

President Biden was right to do what he did. The money that would have gone to paying this debt, will either be spent elsewhere or saved for future purchases like a car, home, vacation, or even retirement. It’s not going to the parasitic sector of the economy anymore.

IMO it’s a worthwhile investment in current and former students. I just wish that Biden offered more relief. Judging by the Qonservative reaction, the fainting couches are out and pearls being clutched in faux indignation because those people are getting a break and not the “job creators” and the huge corporations benefiting from yet another unnecessary tax cut.

My wife is happy that Biden is going to help people. She doesn’t see the need for other people to have to endure what she did because she’s not an asshole.

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