I Don’t Think I Should Have to Pay Back More Than I Borrowed on My Student Loans


Dear Steve,

I took out a $2,000 private loan and a $4,000 Federal loan in 1997.

It was to cover an accelerated program at Albertus Magnus College in CT. I was pregnant at the time and also suffering from depression and anxiety. But since I couldn’t drive anywhere myself because of my panic I thought it was the perfect time to finally finish my college education since my husband would be driving and taking all the same classes.

We got divorced in 1998 and I left the home with my 9 month old. I stopped going to school and moved in with my parents. Without going into detail, after some serious treatment and the help of my parents I got a part time job at CVS so I could stay with my son during the day.

I hadn’t heard anything from anyone about my loans until 2004. I have been in forbearance, deferment, I consolidated the loans, it has been held by at least 5 debt servicers.

Fast foward to today and I am married with 3 kids, I’m a civil servant and the Department of Education has garnished my wages. My loan is now up to $42,000.00 and incurring interest daily. I cannot afford the garnishment and I cannot afford the $400 a month they want on an income driven repayment plan.

Is there anything that i can do to get the wage garnishment lifted?

Is there anyway that I can pay an amount closer to my original loan amount of $6,000.00 rather than the $42,000.00 that they have finally decided is high enough that I am worth coming after with claws out?

How do they expect average people with average or below average salaries to pay back these loans? Is there anyone I can contact at the Department of Education that might be able to help me? I’m at a loss and I don’t know even know how to handle this situation.



Dear Jessica,

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I’m so glad it appears you’ve turned thing around and made a lot of progress in life. It seems you’ve found a way to build a future outside of being shackled with the anxiety and depression you struggled with before.

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is the current balance does not seem all that unreasonable based on the terms you agreed to when you took out the loan. You’ve got the collection penalties and accrued interest that exploded your balance.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

If this was a private loan solely that we were talking about then those are open for settlement. But it appears your primary concern is over the Administrative Wage Garnishment your federal loans have hit you with.

Your best bet to stop the wage garnishment is going to be a loan rehabilitation. Read The Easiest Way to Stop a Student Loan Wage Garnishment – Loan Rehabilitation.

The good news is you will then be able to get back on an income driven program. Rehabilitation is a one-time-only option so take advantage of it.

Since you work for the government you would be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. If you worked for the government since 2007, you were eligible way back then and any payment you made after consolidating your loans would count towards the 120 required to eliminate your total student loan balance.

For more information on that program, click here.

You might feel the income driven payment is too expensive for you. The government doesn’t care. If you have other unsecured debt that is holding you back from making the reduced payment, you should strongly consider filing bankruptcy to eliminate that debt and get back to making your income based student loan payment.

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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