Anyone in higher education can agree that student debt is ridiculous. There’s no way around it. Debt collection practices are getting hostile, the fickle amount of money you get back from FAFSA is insignificant and let’s not even get into how hard it is to apply for a loan. To be short, student debt is crazy.
Skyrocketing interest rates and unfair debt collection practices are stressing college students out before they even finish their degrees.
“Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers,” according to Student Loan Hero.
The average amount of debt for the class of 2017 was $39,400 per person. This is just for borrowers attending public institutions. The average monthly student loan payment for borrowers between 20 and 30 is $351 per month — that’s equivalent to a car payment.
Students get caught up in debt because they wanted to go to college. They pursued higher education and decided this is what they wanted to spend their money on (or rack up an obscene amount of debt).
It’s easy to get a student to sign for something when they’re desperate. Unfortunately, this creates a large amount of debt for students before they even have their degree. Student loans are even harder to navigate when you have to do it alone. Without any sort of guidance from someone experienced, students get trapped by high interest rates and short explanations of what’s going on around them.
If you are a borrower, you have rights — even when it seems like you don’t.
Your student loan is solely your business. No matter if you are late on payments or default on the loan, debt collectors are not allowed to reach out to a third-party acquaintance in your life to get ahold of you. Third-party people are considered to be: non-immediate family members, coworkers and neighbors.
Debt collectors can’t call you 24/7 trying to get ahold of you. They can’t constantly harass you or threaten you over the phone. Collectors also cannot impersonate anyone — they have to reveal their identity. So if you get a call from someone who can’t confirm their identity — hang up.
All of this can seem daunting for a freshly-turned 18-year-old who probably has little to no banking experience.
An informational session or a class made available to those who are considering taking out student loans could be a solution. This could be a space where students can ask questions and get them answered without biases involved. This could even be an online forum that the Department of Education creates to allow those pursuing higher education to get more answers than from a simple FAQ page.
It’s a great dream but Betsy Devos would never, she’s too busy chasing her yacht around Lake Huron.
It’s hard to find someone who truly understands the world of student loans and student debt, but you have to be your own advocate in finding what works best for you. Do your research, and don’t get down about the blood sucking leeches that are debt collectors.
Jacey Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.