David Dulberg
November 2018

Borrowers Feel Confined in a Student Loan Debt Prison

Unscalable metal fences with concertina wire. Guards narrowly confining movement. Prison is designed to restrict freedom. Unfortunately, because student loan borrowers feel like their debt narrowly confines and controls their lives, many feel imprisoned by their debt, according to a recent Forbes article.  An overwhelming number of people feel like just making their next payment will be a struggle. A recent study shows:

  • Nearly 90 percent of borrowers have struggled to keep up with monthly payments.
  • 44 percent said their next payment will be extremely difficult to make.
  • 20 percent said that they would be unable to make the next payment.

More Than a Feeling

Unfortunately, this is more than just a feeling. Having such a tough time with large monthly payments results in real-world challenges:

  • Nearly 60 percent said that student loan debt had decreased their credit score.
  • 10 percent failed job interviews because of interview credit checks.
  • 13 percent were denied apartments due to credit checks.
  • Nearly one third said that their student loan bill is higher than their rent.
  • Two-thirds said they spent more on student debt than on groceries.

An Endless Burden

Another reason student loan debt feels like such a prison to borrowers is the endlessness of the burden. Many students see their balances increase as the payments take their monthly toll on household budgets. They can see the long-term consequences of their debt and put off attaining life goals:

  • 40 percent felt that student loan debt stood between them and their career goals.
  • 28 percent said it had stopped them from starting their own businesses.
  • Nearly 20 percent said they had delayed marriage because of student loan debt.
  • 26 percent said student loan debt caused them to put off having children.

Isolated and Unsupported

Feeling isolated and unsupported is another common experience for those overwhelmed by student loan debt. Unfortunately, most borrowers said that their loan servicer was not helping them get out of their student loan debt confinement:

  • Almost 60 percent said that their loan servicers had provided “confusing” or “unhelpful” information about their student loans.
  • More than 25 percent experienced servicers adding unexpected fees to balances.
  • After sudden, unexpected changes in loan servicers, 57 percent of borrowers experienced unanticipated demands from the servicer.
  • 42 percent had trouble negotiating changes to their repayment plans after running into financial hardship.

Impassable barriers set up in front of the lives of borrowers may do more than restrain individuals. As borrowers default on their student loans every 28 seconds, there is more of a realization that the student loan crisis will drag down the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that student debt “absolutely could hold back growth.” Chairs of the Federal Reserve are extremely hesitant to acknowledge challenges. Despite muted language, their whispers are roars.

We would love to hear from those feeling overwhelmed by their student loan debt. Does your experience align with this information? Or have you experienced something very different? We want to hear your story. Comment below to let us know if student loan debt is a prison.


Options are available to help

Most people do not realize that there are programs designed to help those who may be struggling with their student loan payments. Thousands of borrowers have trusted Ameritech Financial to be their advocate. Click here to find out what options are available. Our services could help you get back on track.

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David Dulberg

David Dulberg lives with his wife in the coastal hills above a narrow creek, mid-canopy in a redwood forest. He has been writing for non-profits for many years, and volunteers as a pilot on the Baum Squad, a tandem bike riding program for the Earle Baum Center for the Blind. He does not have a pet. This does not make him a bad person.

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