I Left the United States Because of My Student Loan Debt. What Now? – Blair

“Dear Steve,

I earned a Master’s degree and spent a year on the job market before taking a job with the City of New York. It required said Master’s but didn’t pay enough for me to maintain a decent standard of living (a shared flat without rodents, a diet that didn’t consist of 50% instant noodles) while repaying my $130,000 in student debt that I naively took on between my two degrees, honored to have been accepted to my “reach” schools with just a bit in the way of scholarships.

After looking for better jobs around the country, I made the decision to move abroad. I was able to pay off $12,000+ in credit card debt and a little under $20,000 in private student loans while making my degrees irrelevant by working in ESL.

I’ve now moved to another country and work in my field for a not-for-profit. I have about $10,000 in private student loans, $9,000 in credit card debt and the rest in government loans.

If I could get a not-for-profit job in the U.S., I would but as a few of my former classmates have been on the hunt for some time, I’m not willing to risk going back home to qualify for debt forgiveness.

Considering the job market, I don’t foresee a move back to the States. I don’t want to be a slave to my student loans any more, but it’s not in my character to just not pay.

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At this point, should I:
1. Pursue a 401c3 status for a health charity that serves people in developing countries that I run with my family with the goal of getting loan forgiveness through my work with them? I do ~10 hours of work every week for them, mainly with research, building partnerships and developing educational material.
2. File for bankruptcy? While I am employed abroad, I don’t earn much in USD. With even $500/month, what it’d take for me to pay my debt off in 30 years, that’s a third of my net income. At the moment, I’m paying $1,000/month for credit card debt and that simply isn’t sustainable as this comes at a HUGE cost.
3. Do something else?

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flemish cow in the field

Dear Blair,

Can you break down for me how much of the remaining debt is federal and private. It makes a difference in my answer.

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

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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.
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