Sunday, September 7, 2008

That Student Loan, So Hard to Shake

The New York Times - MOST people struggling to pay off their student loans keep quiet about it. They do not want to acknowledge that, perhaps in a fit of naïve, youthful optimism, they borrowed more than they could handle.

Then there is Alan Collinge, who for years has described his struggle with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt to anyone who will listen. He has appeared on “60 Minutes” criticizing Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, and has been quoted in the pages of this and other newspapers attacking loan companies.

Student lending is a big business, one that has been the subject of many complaints over the past two years after revelations of questionable ties between lenders and colleges’ financial aid officers. More recently, tight credit markets raised the possibility that some students might not be able to borrow to go to college in the fall.

But much less attention has been paid to what happens to students after they borrow. Lenders who make loans guaranteed by the federal government can more easily take steps against borrowers — like garnishing wages and benefits — than they can with other kinds of unsecured consumer debts. And all student loans, federally guaranteed or not, are extremely hard to get rid of in bankruptcy proceedings, more so than credit card or other debt.

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