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52 Year-Old Borrower Somehow Has $480,000 in Student Loan Debt

52 Year-Old Borrower Somehow Has $480,000 in Student Loan Debt

“looking at a $480,766 student debt load they expect to be stuck with for the rest of their life”

How is this possible? How did this person accrue this kind of debt without someone stepping in and stopping the loans?

From the Business Insider via MSN:

Meet a 52-year-old who has struggled to repay their $480,000 in student debt on income-driven plans and has pushed off retirement: ‘This is an albatross around my neck for the rest of my life’

For decades, Angel’s core focus was making ends meet.

Coming from what they said was a low socioeconomic background, Angel — who requested their last name be withheld for privacy — grew up in the 80s surrounded by the idea that going to college was the key to having a good career and a good life.

Since Angel’s parents did not have the means to fund Angel’s college education, student loans were the only option — and now, at 52 years old, Angel is looking at a $480,766 student debt load they expect to be stuck with for the rest of their life.

“I was told as a kid that you need to get a college degree, you need to get an advanced degree if you want to get ahead in this world, and now I can’t even pursue that American Dream,” Angel told Insider. “I can’t even buy a house. I’m 52 years old. So, I mean, at what point do we say, ‘No, this isn’t right?'”

The reason Angel’s debt load has surged significantly over the past decades come down to several factors. First, to get a good-paying career, Angel pursued two Master’s degrees, but they did not end up actually receiving those degrees until 2012 because they were working simultaneously to save up money. During that time, their student loans from undergraduate school were in deferment, meaning that while they were not actively making payments on their loans, interest was continuing to grow. Angel also said that a customer service representative advised them to stay in school to prolong the deferment period.

And second, once Angel’s loans were taken out of deferment, they enrolled in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, which is intended to give borrowers affordable monthly payments based on income with the promise of loan forgiveness after at least 20 years. However, as recent reports have revealed, the plans are flawed due to issues tracking borrowers’ payment progress, meaning actually getting relief through those plans has been difficult.


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One can’t help wondering whether or not this person truly exists. Is it a hoax?, like the couple in Philly that raised all that $$ for the homeless man? And then got caught buying stupid sh*t for themselves.

If it’s for real, does it not sound like the guy who jumps from an airplane at 20,000 feet without a parachute. And on his way down he smiles , gives the Thumbs Up, and yells out, “So far so good.”

Who would even hire someone with the kind of Credit Score that this person surely must have by now?

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Will Americans ever realize that few academic degree programs ever pay for themselves?

Look at the perky congress-woman from bucolic upper westchester, NY: She literally could have graduated debt-free if she’d enrolled in the NY State university system, but instead she took out ~$150,000 in loans in order to attend Boston U. Why do people do these things? Where are the grown-ups in these people’s lives

    c.c. in reply to c.c.. | January 23, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    If you’re bright enough to get in to, say, XYZ Expensive University … it’s because you’re bright and talented and presumably you interview reasonably well.

    So guess what — Bright, talented people do well no matter what the specific details of their post-high school training they end up choosing to pursue.

    Elon Musk is successful because he’s bright and multitalented. Not because he attended Penn.

    Why can’t people see this?

    Why am I asking you people lolol

Deferred interest is how the individual ended up with that much debt. If you figure that they probably started school around 1990 and finally picked up their Master’s degrees in 2012, those undergrad loans were accruing interest for 20+ years. The principal of the loans was probably significant to start with since you can often borrow housing and living expenses as well as tuition. And up until COVID, interest rates on student loans were not pretty.

The easy money of student loans has fueled the growth of stupid majors (and the associated costs of college) and enabled people to major in things that will never enable them to pay off those loans with the jobs they end up in. It’s one thing to take out a half million dollars in loans for med school; but plenty stupid to have that kind of debt for some “woke” major.

The individual would be doing far better in life if they had joined a training program and become a plumber or electrician. Problem is, the university folks want you to believe that a college education is the ticket to the good life.

Methinks there are enough people with the name “Angel” that a singular pronoun can be used.

    Milhouse in reply to hrhdhd. | January 23, 2023 at 11:39 pm

    Please explain.

    Angel is a fairly common name, and it’s used by both sexes, so there’s no way to know which sex this Angel is. Therefore the singular “they”, which has been part of the English language since the 14th century, is perfectly appropriate.

      hrhdhd in reply to Milhouse. | January 24, 2023 at 3:04 pm

      Nah. Either “he” or “she” could be used, as appropriate, and no one would be the wiser as to which particular “Angel” of the thousands around this article refers to.

      And the so-called singular they has not been used for specific people, just for pronouns such as everybody or somebody. (Please don’t bore me with examples of the first from illiterates, which are grammatically incorrect and always will be.)

“Angel pursued two Master’s degrees, but they did not end up actually receiving those degrees until 2012 because they were working simultaneously to save up money.”

So Angel is not just a person who thinks s/he’s a “they,” but has the superpower of sending our hir personalities to work jobs simultaneously.

Maybe I see the problem: how many names did s/he take out loans under?

    artichoke in reply to henrybowman. | January 23, 2023 at 6:56 pm

    Seems like Angel intentionally put off the loans and let the loans accumulate interest charges, claiming some voice on a phone told “them” to do it. And his parents told “them” to get the degrees. They got to age 52 this way and is/are [which form of “to be” is correct here?] acting shocked, shocked at their predicament.

    There should be some sort of control on non-remunerative master’s degrees. High tuitions, no payoff. Even law school, very high debts and too many lawyers.

    Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | January 23, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    The singular “they” has been correct English since the 14th century. The 19th-century grammarians who criticized it are the same ones who criticized splitting infinitives and other fundamental features of English that make it different from Latin and Greek.

    Anyone called “they” ought to be able to do multiple things simultaneously.

I can’t help but notice that none of Angel’s reasons for why it happened take any personal responsibility for this predicament whatsoever.

Sorry, but this has to be crap or there are factors we don’t understand. I went to BC in the early 80’s and the tuition (not housing) was about $4,ooo per semester. I was a teaching fellow for my graduate degrees, and got tuition remission and even some minor pay.

Whatever this guy allegedly did, as artichoke suggests, is let the loans sit and grow exponentially.

No sympathy.

Angel is a scam artist, not a victim.

Masters degrees usually take 2 years. Angel spent 20 years getting two of them, simultaneously. Are we to believe that the plan was to use them to get a higher paying position, in TWENTY years?!

And notice that we’re not told what these degrees are in.

No, the purpose behind the Masters degrees was to get away with not paying the student loans. And it worked for twenty years. Now Angel is trying to get them forgiven.

    henrybowman in reply to slither. | January 24, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    “Professional student.” My mind always flips back to a repellant scene of grad student Elliot Gould in the dining hall, squeezing ketchup packets into a cup of hot water to make free tomato soup for lunch. Don’t even remember what movie. Don’t think I actually ever saw any other part of the movie.

    VetHusbandFather in reply to slither. | January 26, 2023 at 6:40 am

    This 100%. I met someone who had the philosophy of “If I stay a student forever, I never have to start paying back my loans.” At 20 years for 2 masters, I imagine this person had the same philosophy. Also when they say this person was working to support their masters, it can mean they just worked part time in a campus job all the meanwhile using student loans to cover living expenses while they were a “student.”

    Eventually this crap catches up to them… or at least sort of. The sad part is that they will never actually pay that half million they owe. With their income driven repayment plan, they just need to make payments for 20 years, and the remaining balance of their loan is forgiven.

If Angel had learned HVAC and excelled at the skill they could have been relatively wealthy by now and able to get a job anywhere throughout thee USA.

The mainstream news is full of stories like this. They try their best to obscure it behind a sob story, but the basic fact pattern is somebody who borrows, and borrows, and never pays back. Then they won’t how they’ve racked up so much debt by middle-age. They had one about a guy in Alaska who basically hadn’t had meaningful work in 30 years. Who can live without working from their 20s to their 50s and not be a financial disaster?

We need to remember that student loans don’t just cover tuition. Borrowers are allowed to use them for living expenses. As they keep trying to make the terms of the loans more lenient, they’re a very attractive option for somebody who wants to supplement their income – much easier than taking on a second job, or even a first!

    VetHusbandFather in reply to Flatworm. | January 26, 2023 at 6:46 am

    Bingo. Enroll in one class per year, work part time on campus, use the loan supplement your income by covering your housing and food. After you get your first Masters you can start looking for a job and start paying back your loan, or you can just pursue another degree and get right back on the gravy train.

    The “two masters degrees over 20 years” here is the dead giveaway.

Lots of things going on here. Did Angel use student loans for living expenses, vacations, etc? What were the degrees in and has this person gotten a job in any field for which they got a degree? When did they first start receiving student loans? If I borrowed money to live on for 20 years, and didn’t make payments, I’d be in debt to the tune of half a million dollars too

    Flatworm in reply to rochf. | January 24, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    That’s exactly what’s going on here. Combine nonexistent requirements for creditworthiness, high borrowing limits, and extravagantly lenient repayment terms, and student loans are an irresistible temptation for the chronically unemployed, underemployed, and otherwise financially precarious. Where welfare is stingy and humiliating, student loans’ connection to higher education grants them a certain prestige.

He borrowed his bed, now let him sleep in it.

BierceAmbrose | January 24, 2023 at 4:45 pm

Somebody wanna take a shot at this? I can’t quite find the aphorism here.

There’s something going on here kinda like loss of access to “The American Dream” that deserves an Eric Hoffer zing, like “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Better than this, but something like: “US Higher Ed — Falling for a well-crafted long con makes you a sucker; you fall again and again you’re a mark. Doing this in a system of many people is a conspiracy; if you’re in that an know it, you’re part of the fraud.”

/meta The aphorism-ish needs to connect each idea — “long con”, etc. — to a concrete that still carries the idea. “The American Dream” is similar to what’s needed for each piece. Doing that is why so many Hoffer aphorisms are so good. It’s also hard: why being able to do that makes Hoffer so good. /end

Higher ed is part of several bigger cultural things to work in: credentialism, gate keeping on opportunity and execution, ministry-orchestration, separation of value of mission from value of being important within the system.

BierceAmbrose | January 24, 2023 at 4:46 pm

Stuff like this:

“What’s it take to go after the Higher Ed system under RICO?”

Father Guido Sarducci’s Five-Minute University as originally proposed some years ago: $20.

Call me prejudiced, but a 52-year-old being described as “they” gets no sympathy from me. It has more serious issues with mental illness. It is apparently incapable of thinking for itself or it would have realized what it was doing was just delaying the inevitable..

    NorthernNewYorker in reply to rwingjr. | January 25, 2023 at 9:25 am

    The article is using “they” to hide the sex of the person. Heaven forfend we should find out who Angel really is. Like I can be bothered to go looking?

I know of someone who has 400K in student loan debt, who accrued such a massive sum by switching majors in different schools several times, so this story could be true. However, she is a millennial, not a 52 yo.

Whats this constant use of “they”? Poor writing, the person is a he or she not a Siamese twin