80k in Debt.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Student Loan Story

From the FindLaw message boards:


I have been taking this time to educate myself on student loans. My loans go back 15+ years. It is true that as a young kid, you just want to accomplish graduating from college. I too, didn't pay attention to what I was signing, never took the time to read, or understand the terms or conditions of the loans. I recall going to the vestibule of the college and the registar had all the loan documents filled out and all I had to do is sign on the dotted line. I don't know what the hell I signed. Once I did asked "what is this"?, because it didn't look the same as the other notes, she said that "it's the same subsidized loan you received for the last two years". Later I found out she lied. I complained to administration, but the college probably got a kickback for psuhing these loans on the poor kids.

Anyhoo, I had been unable to pay back the loans for some years, my mom was terminal with breats cancer a year after I finished college so I had to care for her for four years. After that it was a bitch trying to get my employment life and head together. I never made much more than minimum wage and kept contact with Sallie Mae and any other collectors. Then, in 2002, I landed a job with the State Government of New Jersey, in the inner city for Child Protective Services and thought that loan forgiveness would work in my favor. I contacted the collector (HESSA) and stated that I am working and making $400.00 per week, but since I commuted to the city I had no money to pay the full amount. They wouldn't accept anything less. I fought at work and got a raise, called and told the collector that I got a raise and will start voluntarily sending out payments in the next two weeks. Before I could get my paycheck in my hand, the garnishment was in and the default games began! NO 60 days, No allowance to remit voluntary payments. My loan amount has all but tripled. I am currently temporarily on disability. I'm sure that will be garnished momentarily.

Currently, I have an opportunity to get back to school for an MA, for free, (good news) to teach. However, after I finish the program as long as I'm in default of a student loan in NJ, I will be denied teaching certification and licensure by the DOE. I need a career, I'm 40, and want to have a decent existence in life. What can I do to ensure that when I finish the program, I will be able to get the Cert. or License? It shouild take about 18 months, and I can only work part time during my enrollment. Of course my undergraduate transcripts are being held hostage. I'm sure the college won't just take my word that I have a B.A. HELP! I am willing to fight, I HAVE NO CHOICE!



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Truth and Nader Too

From The Truth Will Set You Free:
Don't feel bad. I am free to do what ever I want with the rest of my life AFTER I finish living it for MONEYLENDERS.

And never forget - THAT is what I signed up for. That is the price I MUST pay

Nevermind that the Interest I "owe" is on fiat bills that under our Constitution are supposed to be issued by Congress on behalf of and for the benefit of THE PEOPLE - NOT "the Banks." to learn all about how badly moneylenders have been and continue to SCREW the world.
For maybe reasons of restraint I keep myself from venting to that extent but what this person says is true. It's a frightening and slippery rabbit hole when investigating the economic ways of this nation. The Truth Will Set You Free seems to be dedicated to that discussion. If there were more reason needed to provoke an uproar, here is a comment from Ralph Nader brought to you by CommonDreams.org:

It gets worse. Let's say a graduated student defaults. The government pays Sallie Mae both the principal and the interest compounded. But the loan is still subject to collection. Guess who owns some of the largest collection agencies - you guessed it, Sallie Mae. When its collection agency collects, it gets 25% of the recovery. The profits go to Sallie Mae.

The corporate lawyers who conceived this self-enriching system ought to get the nation's top prize for shameless perversity.

I will need to read the article more thoroughly and hopefully at a later date, I can offer my opinion on the clearly questionable Sallie Mae organization.



Adventures of the Grant Application Part 1

A grant application I've been toiling over for about a month now, was recently completed. During the process I had doubts but approached it with a blind desperation. I feel as though I was grasping at straws although that was due to my poor and limited understanding of the grant proposal process. This experience has brought about some clarity.

The grant was relating to the arts and so I proposed an art project. I purchased an "Idiot's Guide" and scoured the internet for information on essay writing, research methods, budgets proposals, and other details. There is unfortunately not a great source of information on grant applications relating to the arts and unbeknownst to me the "guide" was not all intended for my goals.

Once the three essays, three page proposal, portfolio, and cover letter were complete, I arrived at a point where I felt I needed to package this thing. It seemed peculiar to me as I know look and feel can greatly influence the audience but I feared pushing it too far would look as though I'm compensating for a poor proposal. And well, maybe I was.

It was a difficult. Writing an art project proposal is a strange process since creative development is often filled with ambiguity, hesitation, mistakes, and more. How do you summarize that in three pages? I wish I could have hemmed and hawed and doodled. It would have been more honest.

Nearing the deadline, it began to feel like a marathon. I tossed aside printed research I thought I'd use, I abandoned any other duties I know I have (and I continue to do so!). I needed to do this and to do it right. I had already missed opportunities for other scholarships, grants, and other resources. This was the only one I knew of and once my letter of recommendation came in the mail, I felt a severe obligation to complete this.

It all came together with the help of two overnighters. All this while I've been working full-time. At this moment I would like to offer advice and wisdom on the endeavors but it would be premature. I have to wait on the results but certainly, starting a grant proposal early is the best remedy and from what I've read, applying for the "correct" grant is also integral. Don't propose an opera to a foundation that seems to only fund murals and feminist literature... or something of that nature.

I'm already having suspicions that I may have completed this proposal in vain.

Here are resources for those interested in Grant Proposals:



Friday, April 21, 2006

Financial Aid Podcast

This is the March 29th, 2006 podcast but may contain new information and advice for those looking. I'm endlessly appreciative to find more and more free resources and information online regarding this issue.

Update: The host has an entertaining libertarian perspective. Legalize crack and "tax the hell out of it"?



In the News

Student Loan Consolidation Unavailable For Up to 40% of Eligible Students on March 31, 2006

In less than one week, up to 40% of students and college graduates with federal student loans may find themselves unable to consolidate their student loans with the lender of their choice. New regulations from the US Department of Education will restrict the availability of consolidation options for thousands of students around the country, robbing them of their right to choose which companies may help them manage ever-growing student loan debt. If students fail to file a consolidation application before March 30, 2006, they may possibly lose the right to choose their consolidation lender forever.

I'm ashamed to admit that I was not familiar with the previous news some months ago. Here is information from Yahoo Finance that thankfully does not necessarily apply to me now: Department of Education to Disallow In-School Student Loan Consolidations

April 13, 2006--The Department of Education has announced that, as of midnight, June 30, 2006, students that are enrolled in a college or university will not be allowed to consolidate their student loans. This regulation change means that all students that do not consolidate their Federal Student Loans before July 1st will see their loan interest rates increase from 4.7% to 6.8% while they remain in school.

From Mlive.com, Baker College leads Michigan in student loan defaults

Baker College students failed to repay 521 federal loans in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available. The school's students were responsible for almost one-fifth of the loan defaults at all 74 universities, private colleges and community colleges in Michigan, according to government figures.



Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Grant Proposal Process

I am seeking money almost feverishly. It's a dangerous mode of operation I get myself into and often time the end results are little or no money. I can't pinpoint where I developed this habit, this manner. Just an issue of survival I s'pose.

I agreed to be a wedding photographer for a coworker's wedding. I am not a wedding photographer and I even had to borrow a camera. He's offering $300 so I couldn't turn it down. In addition I'm applying for a grant and introducing myself to the grant proposal process. It's a lot to balance.

The grant writing process appears as a strange one. One of lots of research, snooping, schmoozing, and salesmanship. Although the balance depends really on the founders and type of grant. The particular one I am applying for is in the arts. This poses it's problems as I am thinking of proposing a software application. I know, I am off. So I've changed my mind.

It seems I am reevaluating my strategy. This past year I've sheepishly and unsuccessfully attempted to pursue a music project. Something that could potentially and eventually become a small album. Due to matters predominantly influenced by debt and job, I simply couldn't. Perhaps now is the time and perhaps this the way.

But how do I write a proposal? How do I beg for financial support? How can I convince them that it will do them well to support me?

I purchased the "Idiots Guide to Grant Writing". It is not best suited for those pursuing support for projects in the arts. The book could have been more condensed as well but maybe that's why it's called the Idiot's Guide.



Monday, April 10, 2006

The Two Faces of Debt Discussion

In my research thus far I have come across two interesting programs and organizations. The first called, You Can Deal With It. Immediately I'm even a bit overwhelmed by it's title and message. It's an appreciated statement but it reminds me being chastized as a small child who is overcome by an issue. The website also does not entirely markets itself to the 20-something year old crowd with it's playful flash animations and colorful graphics (or maybe I'm just too much of a stick in the mud who can appreciate their effort).

It covers the subject of school debts, to credit cards and credit ratings, and information for parents and financial advisors. It seems to offer information for those able to handle payments as well as those who can not. It still looks as though it was designed for a junior in high school.

The next organization is dedicated to confronting the social, economic, and legal ramifications of student debt. Project on Student Debt's mission statement best describes the organization's intentions:

For Americans of all socio-economic backgrounds, borrowing has become a primary way to pay for higher education. The Project on Student Debt works to increase public understanding of this trend and the implications for our families, economy, and society. Recognizing that loans play a critical role in making college possible, the Project's goal is to identify cost-effective solutions that expand educational opportunity, protect family financial security, and advance economic competitiveness.

Having read their executive summary called, "White Paper: Addressing Student Loan Repayment Burdens - PDF" I am excited to read their proposals on reform. It does primarily confront as far as I can tell, federal loans and government aid (it seems little can be done to private institutions). Despite that, the project and organization truly have long term goals at mind. Dramtically different from the previous website and organization but equally important. No student with loans and debt should settle with simply maintaining good credit and dealing with the daily grind. Reformation on debt issues needs to also become a priority.



Friday, April 07, 2006

Debt as Social Control?

A recent article from Nicholas von Hoffman, at The Nation Magazine, entitled, "Student Debts, Stunted Lives" brings up an strange idea:

Would there have been a civil rights movement? Would there have been an antiwar movement if those collegians had been saddled with the debts our present-day young people carry?

Maybe so. Maybe that explains the lack of uproar against the cost of school currently. To a certain extent though, I have a difficult time believing that these student debts would not provoke such frustration and angst.

...our attention is not drawn to the consequences of these arrangements. Nor is the discussion ever couched in terms of the social control implicit in high tuition and high student-loan interest rates.

Mr. von Hoffman should not see this debt as social control. I believe those truly prepared for the educational system and its debt and consequences are not subjects of any suggested "control". Pragmatism is not social control. For those unprepared though, for those not sure how manage without an education and without money, there's a quiet uproar underneath the surface I believe or and some time hopefully it will be communicated.



Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spare Change

Student Offers Personal Satisfaction
by Giving you the chance to pay his loans

I located this information from another source and it furthers my impression and astonishment of the bold maneuveurs some people will make. Then again, what I'm realizing is that it may not be so bold after all. Almost a necessity. I suppose because graduations often fall around March through May many new articles are floating around about the subject. This from the Los Angeles Times (requires registration):

Technically, creditors lose one of their most important tools — the ability to sue you and win a judgment — after three to 15 years, depending on the state. In California, this statute of limitations is four years. But some creditors sue after the deadline and may win the judgment if you don't show up in court to point out that the statute has expired. Also, there's no statute of limitations on student loan debt; these lenders can and sometimes do pursue borrowers to the grave.
Almost a year ago while in school, I came across one of those all too common internet novelty, sideshow, websites, Save Tobey (you can search for it on your own). A young man threatened to cook and eat his bunny if he didn't recieve a certain amount of money. I think we've all seen or heard of it. It turned out to be a prank and a successful one. The creator on his website claims to have recieved a decent amount of funds through donations.

It was too easy for me feel resentment and frustration towards the entire thing. If its real though; if it is true and if those are current trends (as with the ebay posting above and Save Tobey) then I perhaps should not scoff so easily.

I'm curious if many people to consider these options. A kind of Spare Change Over Internet Protocol.... i know. Nevermind.



Is Debt an Influential Factor on the Development of Young Men?

A recent discussion from On Point with Tom Ashbrook approached the subject of young men living at home longer than before. Really interesting ideas regarding history, the manufacturing job market, culture, and debt are brought up. On Point is good show I would recommend to anyone. Here are the podcasts or related websites:

Or Listen below: