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Drowning in student loan debt. What Can I Do? – Laurie

I’m completely lost and don’t know where to turn. When I started college, I went to the first and only school I applied for. An Art Trade school (that later closed down). I was young and stupid and didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice except for the “experts” of the school, who totally took advantage of my stupidity. I remember being called into the financial aid office and told that my funding was running low and I needed to take out a student loan. They made it sound so easy and painless.

After 3 or 4 times of this, the student loan agency (Sallie Mae) finally said they would not lend me any more money. I tried taking a full time job in order to pay for school, but began failing my classes because I didn’t have enough time in the day to finish the homework. There were times I was up for 3 or 4 days straight trying to get everything done. I even fell asleep at work out of total exhaustion and ended up getting fired. The financial aid office told me that if I couldn’t pay I wouldn’t be allowed to stay in school. Without knowing what else I could do, I voluntarily dropped out.

I left with no degree, and a whole pile of debt. I kept getting forebearances and made a couple $100 payments here and there when I could. But it was never enough. Sallie Mae has told me that the minimum I can pay each month is $500 and that’s interest only. I don’t have that kind of money period, let alone to pay for interest only and not have anything go towards the principle.

I’ve been in default now for a while, and last year they started taking my tax refund. I’m afraid they’re going to garnish my wages and make it impossible for me to live. I’m only 26 and feel like life is over. I have nothing to show for it and I have no idea how to get out of this mess.

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I owe roughly $100,000, and make about $1200 a month. I’ve been looking for a second job for about 6 months now, but with the economy the way it is, the area I live in is so difficult to find anything. I can’t even get hired at McDonalds because I’m “over qualified”.

There has to be something out there that can help me…anything. Please.


Dear Laurie,

I’d love to tell you that there is a miracle solution waiting for you, but because these are most likely private student loans, thing are not so great.

Did the school happen to close while you were attending? If not, how long after you left did they close down?

If you were still attending or it closed not more than 90 days after withdrew then you may be able to get your loans forgiven using this form.

Is there any chance these student loans are subsidized or government backed loans?

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • I have a similar issue that I am trying to work on. However, my student loans are federal loans. I think the best bet is to at least gather your loan information by checking your credit report. You’ll be able to get the factual informtion on you interest rate, principal amounts and what you can do to reduce loan payments before they garnish your wages.

  • Here’s the thing…I don’t have a clue what kind of loan it is! The financial aid departmentt did everything for me. I have no paperwork on the loans what so ever. And when I call Sallie Mae, they said they don’t have anything either. I filled out the paperwork in the office at the college, and then had to call Sallie Mae with the information. All they can send me is the bill for what I owe. It has since gone to a few different collection agencies, and I get threats that they’re going to garnish my wages.

    The school closed after I was told I had to drop out, but how long after? I’m not sure. I’ve tried calling the school phone numbers, I’ve tried researching them, I can’t find anything.

    Over the last 6-7 years that I’ve been dealing with this problem, I’ve gone through suicide attempts, depression, etc. I just don’t know what else I can do.


  • How do you know whether the student loans are subsidized or government backed loans? We can definitely relate to this. My husband attended a local technical school who ensured him the program was a certificate program and helped him with the financial paperwork. There was always someone helping him in the beginning. When he was getting ready to graduate students were informed there was no such accreditation and no one available to answer questions. No certificate, no job… 

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