While homeless I defaulted on my student loans. I can’t get my transcripts to start over.


I graduated from college with a BFA in photography.

We were taught the usual art b.s. but we weren’t taught any business skills–consequently, I did very well in school but not so well in life.

I paid off 2 of my loans but used deferment/forebearance options frequently over the years due to underemployment.

I became homeless after losing my job and ended up defaulting on my student loans. I didn’t have a way to get mail and simply forgot to call them. When I finally did, I’d been in default for a month. I now live with my boyfriend & work part time making $10/hr. in cash, own nothing–not even a car and don’t have any bills in my name.

The firm that owns my student loans now calls me twice a day–I ignore them. They are the 2nd firm to purchase my loans and each one tacked on an additional $10K to my balance. I now owe $75K. Although I’m 42 years old, I’d like to attend a cosmetology school to obtain new skills so I can embark on a new (real) career.

Obviously I can’t borrow more money but I have been researching scholarships. But according the the federal student loan website, I may not be eligible to receive my college transcripts because of my default status.

I need these transcripts so I can apply for merit-based scholarships so I can repay my student loans! It makes absolutely no sense to me that $20K was tacked onto my balance and that now I may be ineligible for scholarships–both of these scenarios keep me from paying back my loans! In addition, I’m faced with the prospect of not being hired even after I acquire my (cosmetology) license because potential employers might check my credit.

My question is simple: WHAT DO I DO NOW?? Two other facts that may influence any advice given: I’ve been treated for bipolar disorder for 25 years and I can prove I lived in a shelter when I defaulted. So…any ideas?

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8 thoughts on “While homeless I defaulted on my student loans. I can’t get my transcripts to start over.”

  1. If your loans are not throught the school.Should fill out a transcript request form. I would seek out who owns your loans and try to make payment arrangements even if its 20 dollars a month and try not to ignore these people when they call. mY experience is it only makes it worse. Always ask to speak with someone in charge and document all conversations with name and or id numbers

  2. File for bankruptcy, get the automatic stay, take this automatic stay to whoever is holding your transcripts and let them know by law they can no longer hold your transcripts, cancel your bankruptcy filing. You cannot do this multiple times. Once you file for bankruptcy and cancel, you cannot get the automatic stay for a while after. Read “Nolo Presses” bankruptcy book on how to file without a lawyer.

  3. Chelle,

    I am most concerned that you think that the answer to your problem is a degree in cosmetology. It is likely that you are not making rational decisions, perhaps due to your condition.

    You are not going to get student loans for more education while you are in default on other student loans. It is highly unlikely that you can obtain a full scholarship to pursue a cosmetology program. You probably do not enough cash to keep yourself even if you could get a scholarship. But on the positive side, it probably wouldn’t make much difference if you had your transcripts or not; few cosmetology schools require a BFA for admission or financial aid. 

    You need to sit down with a social worker or counselor and develop a short term plan. You need a job and you need to have enough money to get your student loans back on track. Don’t get distracted by other things.

    Good Luck! 

    • Attn: MSullivan
      Thank you for your post. However, I’m not sure why you’re “most concerned” that I’m seeking a career in cosmetology. It’s something I’ve considered for years and the salon and spa industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is projected to post steady job growth through at least 2018. The number of skin care specialist jobs (the area I want to specialize in) is projected to jump 51%, while hairdresser, hairstylist and cosmetologist positions are expected to increase by 31%, nearly three times the rate of growth of total U.S. employment (11%) during the same period. Even if I pursued the full cosmetology program (hair, skin and nails), I would only be in school for 16 months; if I just go for esthiology, then it would only be 4 months. Additionally, the school I plan on attending (an Aveda Institute) offers lifelong placement assistance. I find your remark that I’m not making “rational decisions” due to my “condition” extremely stigmatizing, trite and insulting. The only reason I brought up my b.p. disorder is for anyone suggesting programs that might help–not so you could be condescending.
      As for your contention that it’s highly unlikely I could obtain a full scholarship to attend cosmetology school, you are correct–it is unlikely. That’s why I’m applying for *dozens* of scholarships and grants. I will be working more hours soon, will be able to save most of it and my boyfriend and family have pledged to help. The reason I need my transcripts is because merit-based scholarships require them. An update: I actually have received all of my transcripts and have called the licensing board to make sure that federal loan default would not exclude me from getting my cosmetologist’s license.
      As for your suggestion that I talk to a social worker (um, I’m not homeless anymore–why would I do that?) or a couselor, well, I did. We went over my options, both short term and long term and he recommended I get as much information as I can, ask questions, etc. I believe this is what I’m doing. I live in an expensive university city with high unemployment and lots of young college educated people competing for the few jobs that are available. Additionally, all of my work-related skills are in the food industry (obtained through the course of 20 years in another state) and it’s harder to get a job as a barista here than as an esthetician. I check the want ads and Craigslist everyday and have observed that there are stylist and esthetician wanted postings everyday. I’m doing my best to be smart, look for a way to compete, be happy and make a living. I don’t feel that I’m “distracted”. Driven and methodical maybe.

        • Hi EmpressGenny,

          Are you having trouble getting your transcripts? I just contacted the two universities where I went to school and had no problems. I went to my schools’ websites, printed out the transcript request forms, mailed them with payment and asked for official transcripts to be mailed and unofficial transcripts to be emailed. Of course I didn’t mention that I was in default and my loans were not through the schools directly–I know with some loans you have to pay the schools back for student loans and I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to get transcripts in that case. I’m becoming more and more angry with how former students are being treated not only after defaulting but when they’re having trouble paying them back. It’s not right.

          I’m sorry this has happened to you. Hang in there!

          Take care.


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