Student loans are the absolute worst

After spending a great deal of time researching student loans, and interviewing parents and students, I’ve come to a conclusion. The majority of today’s parents sending their students to college are enablers. They avoid and fail to take an aggressive approach to make sure their comingof- age young adults are prepared to deal effectively with money matters. In too many cases, this flawed role model is taken on by their children and carried to the next generation, perpetuating a troublesome cultural issue.

Student loans are the worst kind of debt to have because they are treated differently than other consumer loans where the borrower has the option of bankruptcy and default protection. Student loans, federal and private, are the exception of any loan instrument in the nation’s history!

All other federal loan guarantee programs in the United States, secured or unsecured, fall under the umbrella and employ bankruptcy protection should circumstances dictate. All government loans and guarantees, with the exception of student loans, are exempted from bankruptcy discharge. Is this discrimination? Is it equality?

While no one ever wants to file for bankruptcy, bankruptcy protection can and does afford citizens who have incurred insurmountable debt a legal process for resolving those debts, allowing them to continue on to productive lives. It is a critically important freedom to have, serving as protection against abuses that frequently occur for debtors.

In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law. It includes a provision that makes it nearly impossible to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy. This legislation with its ever-increasing regulations came about as a result of intense lobbying by the financial institutions seeking loan guarantees from the federal government. Now those lenders can grant loans to high-risk borrowers and not have to suffer any financial consequences should the debtor default.

Interestingly enough, justification for these regulations were not supported with substantiated facts. The enactment of these laws was based solely on the so-called credibility and financial enhancements that various lending institutions used to persuade Congress into doing their will.

Unbelievably, this legislation gave the guarantors of the loans the right to add a 25 percent increase to the balance of student loans immediately on default, which could happen even if the borrower missed one payment. Borrowers who default on loans are subject to a large increase in their debt, and also face annual collection rates up to 25 percent of the balance of the loan.

In addition to these added penalties and fees, Congress granted the industry unbelievable methods for recovery of the increased debt. This included the power of wage, Social Security and disability garnishment, tax seizure, suspension of state-issued professional licenses, and termination from public employment.

How will you avoid becoming part of this deplorable process? Charles R. Green, M.S. Ed., Author, “77 Ways to Earn, Learn and Work Your Way Through College Debt-Free.”