Raleigh, North Carolina
I am in a Spousal Consolidation that originated in 2005. My then-spouse was the sole earner, and I was a stay at home mother raising two young children. Soon after consolidating the loans, my husband asked for a divorce, then left the United States and moved to Turkey. He did not pay alimony or child support, and I raised my children alone. Because I had not been working, I had to move quickly to create income to support my family. I found my MA in Clinical Psychology qualified me for nothing in my field (I would have needed a PhD or an MSW degree to qualify for work in my state, or pursue accreditation through 4,000 unpaid hours with supervision).
I had mouths to feed, and those were not viable options. I used credit cards and lines of credit, and created a business while working full time in an administrative role to make ends meet. The business did well enough, and we were able to manage without ever requiring government assistance.
During this time period, I used forbearances to delay student loan payments. My original borrowed amount was $40,039. My first loan was in 1982 when I was a college freshman, and was at an interest rate of 9.00%. When we consolidated in 2005, the principal had grown to a little over $68,000 with interest. Today, the balance due is over $200,000 and locked in at 8.25%. I am in an income-based repayment of $648 per month. The interest alone on my loans is closer to $2,000 per month. My payments do not cover interest, and will never reduce the principal.
I am now 57 years old. I declared bankruptcy in 2015, because the way I funded my business all those years ago caught up with me. I filed for Chapter 13, and was in repayment for 5 years until June 2020. My student loans were not dischargeable because student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy without passing the Brunner test, and even then, I have been told it is highly unlikely and a waste of funds. Because I have a Spousal Consolidation, I am unable to refinance to take advantage of the lower interest rates we have recently had. I do not have a way of contacting my former spouse but remain tied to him through this loan, which he has never paid on.
Because of the burden of student loans and raising two children without any support, I have not saved for retirement. My son is truly brilliant, with an IQ that puts him in the top 1% of our population. Seeing my struggle with student loans, and knowing how hard I was working to provide, he refused to add to the burden by going to college, and enlisted in the Navy instead. My daughter is an extraordinary student, and pursued her degree. She has $20,000 in student loans, and although she will graduate cum laude in May with a degree in Zoology with minors in Genetics and Anthropology, she plans to delay graduate school to work and pay down her loan debt for fear of having my experience.
If I was able to get my loan forgiven, I would be able to help my children with their educations and provide for my retirement. As is, I am in a hopeless situation that I cannot get out of. My health is impacted, my anxiety and blood pressure require medication, and I am hoping for a miracle that will bring relief.