Student Loans And The Worst Student Loan

1050 Words Jul 19th, 2016 5 Pages
Four months after my niece’s graduation party, she got an email with a subject line indicating that she would soon need to start making payments on her student loans. Employed only part time and sharing a room in a small apartment to keep costs down, she was afraid to open the email. Since I know something about student loans, I offered to help her out. I took a Sunday morning drive to her place.

It was worse than I imagined. Not her debts, which were about average and composed only of federal loans; fortunately she has none of the high-cost, inflexible private loans that usually play a role in the worst student loan stories. The awful part was the process of figuring out her options. The system seemed designed to confuse rather than inform, purposely rigged against the borrowers who most need help. Laura took screenshots as we went along so I could share with the world what we were experiencing. As you follow us on the journey, notice how difficult it was for us to get her on the path to income-based repayment, even though I knew from the start that it would likely be best for her.

We sat down at her dining room table with a roommate’s computer. She closed her eyes and opened up the email. What we saw was a relief, making me think, for a moment, that my assistance was not needed, my trip had been superfluous. The email was friendly in tone and made it clear that she would not necessarily have to make large payments right away:

It’s time to decide how you want to pay back…

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