I Graduated From College With So Much Debt, There is No Hope


Dear Steve,

I am over $150,000 in debt from students loans, approximately 100k is from private student loans, 4 separate loans, while the remainder is various federal loans.

I am 24 years old and got this debt from undergraduate education where I got a sociology degree and now at my first job make less than 35k/year before taxes.

In retrospect, I see how this was a stupid decision to acquire that much debt from undergraduate education and a degree that would not lead to reasonable income, but I was young and the first generation college student who was not informed on the financial implications of those decisions.

My credit score is mid 600s because of medical bills from college (no insurance at the time) and maxed out credit cards I used for my family so my credit is already kind of low to begin with.

My question is would it be smart or advisable to simply stop paying my private student loans and continue paying federal loans since the government can garnish my wages?

I am really up to my neck in bills and do not see an end in sight. I can’t even go back to school to get a graduate degree to hopefully make more money because I would need to get another loan and my credit wouldn’t allow me to do that.

And given my bachelor degree, I do not anticipate a huge jump in my income in the next decade. Not to mention I have not started saving for retirement and have not a dime put aside for emergency savings. I don’t know if it’s a smart decision to simply stop because then I won’t be able to get a lease, utilities, etc. but if I continue making these payments I can’t move out of my mother’s house.

I’m in a frustrating cycle of debt that dictates everything I do but I do not want to stop making these payments and then getting a house later down the road becomes difficult because of my bad credit and the I regret it. Please help!

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Dear J,

I wish your situation was unique and uncommon, but it’s not. I can’t even tell you how many people have contacted me over the years in the same situation. It seems most have general degrees or degrees like sociology or social work.

When entering college there is little to no help to educate students about the reality of income based on the degree they hope to achieve. And you are luckier than 75% of students who have debt and no degree.

At some point you need to put responsibility first for life ahead, rather than behind. This means developing emergency savings and doing something for retirement, starting now.

The fact so much of your debt is in federal student loans that gives you some options. I would suggest you read “The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Student Loans You Can’t Afford.” But keep in mind, those income based repayment programs have a big gotcha involved. Read “Why Income Based Student Loan Payments Can Be a Terrible Trap.”

When it comes to the private student loans I wonder how much of that debt was not used for qualified educational expenses. Private student loan debt that was not used for that purpose may be discharged in bankruptcy. See “These Private Student Loans Can Be Easily Discharged in Bankruptcy.

Considering the totality of your situation and other debt, it’s probably time for you to meet with a local bankruptcy attorney who is licensed in your state. It is your right for a legal fresh start from your unmanageable debt so you can do better moving forward. In fact it is a right afforded you by the U.S. Constitution.


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.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Steve Rhode
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4 thoughts on “I Graduated From College With So Much Debt, There is No Hope”

  1. Dear J, Steve Rhode was very helpful and encouraging to me before, during and after I filed my Adversary Proceeding as part of my Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy last year. I did not have an attorney and I won a full discharge of nearly $130,000.00 without a trial in Federal Court in Alexandria, VA just a few miles from the Washington D.C. Dept of Education’s office!

    I continue to offer help and advice to others like myself who have reached the point of no return with student loan debt. I offer help on my personal blog site: http://www.unduehardship-povertyrequired.com. Steve Rhode has re-published many of my articles on his site, and I so appreciate his hard work. If I can be of help follow me on my blog and comment there and I will get back to you! Again Steve has been a great friend and help to me and I am happy to call him a friend! God Bless America! Richard Precht, Minn, MN

    PS: I also have a friend (a lawyer) in California who owed about $350K in student loan debt. He is about 59 years old and he WON his case in a vicious battle against the DOE and their paid “shills” both of us did our own case work by doing our own cases and spending over year of preparation! Learning all you can about UNDUE Hardship cases and the process involved is the key! I read and re-read thousands of cases to become knowledgeable enough to take my case to court! The US Attorney and Judge settled my case in less that a week! If I can help let me know!

  2. If 100k is from private loans look for an attorney with debt settlement experience. It may sound weird but it’s treated similar to settling credit card debt. The best thing to do is sell what you don’t need, save all you can, talk to your cosigner (on the private loan if you have one), and consult with the attorney on your strategic default. There’s no way I can say it’s the best option for you but I had no choice since I lost my job and had to move in with family since I’ve been harassed by both the government AND the private loan sharks.

    There just aren’t any good jobs out there and going to college was the worst thing I’ve ever done. My future is all but destroyed.

  3. My question is are you currently making loan payments or are you in default status? Defaulting is a very expensive and devastating position to get into. There can be huge fines and penalties added to your loan if you default. While seeking to find to a bankruptcy attorney, bear in mind most do not take student loan cases. They are very time consuming to get through the courts and most bankruptcy lawyers are not willing to put the effort into taking the case as they can make money faster from straight chapter bankruptcy cases like Chapter 7 and 13 which are pretty much a slam dunk situation.

    I suggest you learn all you can about what is involved in trying to discharge both the private loans and the Federal Loans. Sort them out if you can to know how much you borrowed from whom and what the money was used to pay for.

    If you were a good student you know how to do research. And that is what you need to do to have the knowledge to make the right decisions about your student loan debt.


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