Get Out of Debt Guy - Steve Rhode

I Went to College Abroad on Private Student Loans I Can’t Afford Anymore

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Question:

Dear Steve,

Firstly, thanks for all the information here. It takes time to gather all this information, sources and repost it in a way that failures like me can understand.

In a quick nutshell: Attended a US uni in London, UK, for 3 years, whole thing on student loans. Graduated in 2008, in the middle of a recession, went home to the states, no one would hire me (over qualified or under experienced), and I could only find money by freelancing back in the UK. But wasn’t enough to even cover interest, let alone food, so deferred payments.

The campus has now closed, and was not a Title IV University. Not to mention, the finance department of the school, has been fully let go, and hired new people TWICE in the 3 years I was there.

After capitalisation, debt was at $202K. Called Sallie Mae, and got roughly $12k knocked off due to inappropriate fees, and have been on a lower payment plan since 2010, paying every month, have not had a single late payment since. Been sending anywhere between 50-70% of income a month to Sallie Mae/Navient since.

Thus far, I’ve paid off about $26K. Been riding the exchange rates to get more $ for my £. But now, I no longer qualify for lower payments, I was told I’ve used up my amount I’m allowed to do this.

I now have barely enough money for food, no savings, no retirement fund, and no money for a lawyer to fight my case. Also, I’m based in London, UK. Only place that hired me. Also, I have cosigners, but they cannot afford to help pay back the loans either anymore due to rising costs.

I haven’t consolidated my loans, and the amount is spread out over 11 loans, and have paid off 5 so far.

I have 4 private loans (the monsters), and 2 Stafford subsidized loans left.

Do you know of anyway I can get out of this, or reduce it? Does it seem likely that I can get some of it discharged since the campus was not Title IV?

American Intercontinental University is listed as a Title IV institute, but only their Illinois campus. There are other institutes with different campuses, and each campus is listed separately. I have the official school code for my campus, which is not on the list presently.

Any assistance, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for reading this far. I know its a long story.

Amanda

Answer:

Dear Amanda,

First off, let’s get this straight, you are NOT a failure. You might feel that way but perception does not equal reality.

What you are is someone who participated in an unsustainable transaction that was perpetrated by the seller and a buyer. I’m often misinterpreted in the advice I give as if I think everyone should walk out on their debt. That is not the case at all.

I think all parties to the transaction should bear responsibility for the situation. In your case you did sign on the line and have co-signers who are on the hook as well. But as it stands, the schools and private lenders are saying they have no responsibility for allowing people who can’t pay to go so far in debt for degrees or programs that many never generate enough money to pay for the debt.

You, like so many others, are just looking for some reasonable assistance in order to meet basic needs while you feel as if you are falling backwards down a dark hole. While the federal student loan programs that help might not be perfect, at least they offer some path into more manageable payments and sometimes loan forgiveness. If you have not consolidated your federal student loans and put them on an income contingent repayment program, you should. Click here.

Private lenders offer little when it comes to loan repayment assistance. Basically the reality is the private lenders seem to act as if they got you on the hook and they are not letting go. Private lenders rarely let co-signers off that hook, actually forgive any debt, or allow people to enter into repayment plans they can afford based on their current life circumstances.

In a perfect world, your co-signers would never have agreed to the loan, the school would have considered your ability to manage and afford the debt, and the private lender would have engaged in more respective lending based on the ability to repay, other than Gottcha!

Your school might have been totally bogus, not accredited, not a Title IV protected school, and the loans might be available for a discharge in bankruptcy. But unlike the new Borrower Defense program that is rolling out for federal loans, private lenders offer nothing similar.

In the federal Borrower Defense program, the government is saying that if students were lied to or schools violated the law in selling students into programs, the federal loans can be forgiven and the money clawed back from the school. This is just the commonsense theory of unjust enrichment in action.

But private lenders offer no similar plan if deficiencies are found in the school or their promises. It seems as if private lenders say, “Wow, the school screwed and you are a victim of fraud, too bad.”

So where does that leave you? Stuck is the realistic answer.

But you do have options. Since you can’t afford to hire an attorney to fight this situation we have to look at the next possible solution. For some, stopping payment on unaffordable private student loan debt is an option with consequences but hope.

When you default on your student loan debt you will wind up in collections, your balance will increase, and you may get sued. But that’s not always a bad thing. See Top 10 Reasons You Should Stop Paying Your Unaffordable Private Student Loan. Settlement and debt reduction agreements are frequently made through the discussions and defense of a suit.

In the case of having co-signers, the private lender will go after the co-signers and they are 100 percent on the hook for the loans. Any default will hurt their credit.

So the most likely approach at this point would be to get the co-signers on the same page with you. They can either help to pay the student loans to avoid these consequences or they can help to fund a battle or defense if you do decide to default and get sued.

If you do default, it will not prevent you from coming back to the U.S. at any time. You will not be stopped at the border.

You are not a failure, at all. I don’t think you are.


Big Hug!
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