We’ve all heard the stories. Whether from our friends, colleagues, adult children, or through our own experiences, we know that student loan debt is taking a huge toll on students and graduates across the country. With the total volume of outstanding student debt amounting to well over a trillion dollars, we’ve heard stories of its impact on home buying, saving, the start of new businesses, new families, and more.
This summer, we had the pleasure of meeting Dani who shared her story with us. Her story was similar to many of the stories we receive on student debt. Dani, who graduated with a degree in elementary education, wasn’t making a lot of money. She was struggling to make ends meet and pay down her student loans. She was living in a family member’s basement located over an hour away from her job, driving a car in desperate need of repair, and trying to balance the cost of groceries against her student loan payments. At one point, she could not pay her student loans and received threatening calls as a result.
“I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve cried over my finances… It’s not like I’m going out and saying, ’Oh, I don’t have to pay those.’ I want to, and it’s really hard to deal with not being able to.”
Dani was on a one-year reduced payment plan, but it was about to expire. She knew that her income still wasn’t enough to manage a full student loan payment so, before the reduced payment plan expired, she contacted her student loan servicer to find out what steps she needed to take to stay on the plan. Although they assured her that she’d be able to do so, her request to extend the plan was eventually denied. Dani continued to try to work with her student loan servicer but she was getting nowhere.
“I needed help. I contacted the CFPB because I really needed someone else on my side. There’s nothing that I was doing with this private student loan servicer that was changing anything, and I was stuck in a position that felt hopeless…”
The loan servicer reviewed her account and determined she was indeed eligible to stay on the reduced payment plan for another year. By reaching out to the CFPB, Dani was able to take charge of her student loan debt.
“It’s such a relief to be able to not have to worry about if I’ll have money for gas to get to work; or, not have to worry about whether or not I’ll have something to eat that week; or being able to afford a place to live.”
We’re glad that Dani got the help she needed by reaching out to the CFPB. Whether you’re struggling with student loans or planning how you’ll pay for college, we have tools to help you. You have the right to take charge of your student loan debt, so let us help you along the way.
To learn more about our recent work to help student loan borrowers, read our report on Student Loan Servicing.