Since I can remember, I have always loved working on all things mechanical. I ate and slept mechanical. I had ten Erector Sets. I took apart everything to see how it worked. My mom almost killed me when I destroyed her toaster oven. She is the one that encouraged me to go to college and get an engineering degree. I think she realized her dream of me going to law school was a waste of time. The only problem was my mom supported us because my dad left when I was young. We got by but we were poor.
When I went to college, the people in the offices were nice to me at first. They helped me fill out my applications, including my student loan requests. I was happy to get into college and never once gave any thought to my student loan. I knew that either I got one and went to college, or I didn’t and I had to give up on becoming an engineer. It was a no brainer, I thought.
By the time college ended and I graduated, I racked up over $142k in debt. I was shocked. I never realized how fast it could add up. I rationalized I would get a job, get paid $60k a year, and put $30k toward my loans for three years and then be debt free thereafter. I was an idiot. When I finally got a job, they only paid me $32k a year. After taxes, I barely had enough to pay all of my living expenses like rent, payment on a used car, food, cloths, etc. I managed to make payments on my student loans but I kept falling farther and farther behind. The next thing you know, I lost my job to the bad economy and my student loans defaulted when I ended up living in my car.
The worse part came when I went to my mom’s house and she was on the front porch crying. She told me they came and took her car away. I asked why, she paid cash for it. I knew that because she saved all her tip money for a long time to get that car and she loved that car. She said it was the federal government who took her car. I didn’t understand. Finally she explained that she was forced to co-sign on my student loans and when I defaulted, the student loan guarantor came to her house and took away her car to sell it to put the money toward the debt. I got upset and I ended up crying with her.
Then the nightmare began. My mom lost her job because she could not get to work on time using the bus. One thing lead to another and now her and I live on the street and when we’re lucky, we get to sleep in a shelter for a few nights. I hate my country and I hate myself now because I was an idiot who took out a student loan to go to college. My best advice to others is don’t do it. Never ever take out a student loan unless you want your life destroyed or the life of someone you love, like your mom.
Over the years of hopelessness, I wanted to fight back. One of the best days in my life was when I found this website [Student Debt War.org] because I realized I was not alone. It gave me and my mom some hope. My mom wanted to send them a donation but they don’t ask for money. I was really surprised. I wanted to thank them and they asked me to send them my story so I did. I hope it helps.
Mark and Julie P.