I Defaulted On My Student Loans (And It Was The Best Decision Of My Life)
By: Stephanie Shepard
I was a Millennial with great misfortune regarding the job market. I started my freshman year of college in the middle of the 2000′s. At the beginning of my senior year I saw Wall Street fail. I saw the historic DOW 700+ point decline in a single day. I watched FOX Business News as I tried to focus on my homework. I attempted to find work when all local businesses were too scared to hire. I started my “career” at the beginning of the Great Recession.
Like many in my generation, I entered the work force with a nonexistent job security. The bankruptcy bailout lingered into a sluggish hiring freeze in all fields. Few businesses were willing to take a chance on a Millennial. Your “vision” is not needed, go away. The economy would love to see the Millennials go away. They do not want to hear our whining as they call it. They don’t want to see an optimistic 20-something enthusiastically bounce into the office with a new idea. They don’t want to see a change. No new people, the door is closed, good luck.
Every 20-something can testify to the resume black hole. Did you include enough buzzwords or keywords in your resume? Then it is your fault you do not have a job. The lack of empathy for Millennials in the work force is very telling. The economy needs us to take out loans from bailed out banks. They need us to buy cars from the bailed out “Big 3″ auto companies. They need us to buy a house in an underwater market. They want us to be the ones who save the delinquent economy, bring in back to its glory days, at our expense. They want us to stay naive children and be guided into making horrendous financial decisions at our own peril
After college I spent a year without a job. Despite my previous experience in the service sector I could not find employment as a waitress. I could not get a job stocking merchandise in retail. Every job was closed off to me. I lived in a small town and I was screwed. In a last ditch effort I hopped a Greyhound bus out of the area. All I took with me was a bag full of clothes and a messenger bag containing my laptop. It was not the first or last time I would risk it all to move to another state.
After a month I started a waitress job at an IHOP. After a couple of months the phone calls endlessly persued me. Are you going to pay us back? You can put your student loans in deferral for another year. Call us back at XXX-XXX-XXXX, we can work with you. I got calls at work, from multiple anonymous numbers, they even called extended members of my family. Having to explain to my seventy year old grandmother, why student loan collectors were calling her, was a difficult conversation.
Grandmother: “Sweetie, you need to pay your debts.”
Me: “I know, grandma.”
Grandmother: “Why did you borrow money you could not repay?”
Me: “I thought I could repay it until the bailouts happened.”
Grandmother: “That is no excuse. You need to repay them.”
After that conversation I was enraged. I refused to let the student loan collectors violate my privacy. Bothering me was an annoyance. Bothering my elderly grandmother was intolerable. In that moment I refused to play their little game any longer. To me, being a student loan debtor did not equal the treatment of deadbeat. I made the decision to default on my student loans. I made the decision to not accumulate additional interest. I was not going to let my debtors earn more money by charging me interest over a decade.
After refusing to make a payment or allow a deferral the threats started. We are going to garnish your wages. Ok, I don’t make much money anyway. We are going to ruin your credit. Ok, I don’t want to take out additional debt anyway. We will confiscate your tax refunds. Ok, I only see that money once a year anyway. We will guarantee you will never be able to take out a mortgage. Ok, I can’t afford a house anyway. We will guarantee you can never get another car loan. Ok, my car is in excellent condition with less than 100,000 miles.
The desperation of pleads with debt collectors got stranger. In the last four years since I defaulted on my loans I was never asked to pay them. I was never asked to set up a payment schedule. The calls focused entirely on getting them out of default. They were not interested in the loans being repaid. They just did not want them in default because they could not charge me interest. All the calls I currently receive focus on putting them back in deferral.
In the last four years I have had my wages garnished and my tax returns confiscated. My credit was initially ruined until I started rebuilding my credit worthiness. I have not paid any additional interest on my original loan since going into default. I defaulted on my loans, now they are half way paid off. With no interest being charged I am on my way to being officially debt free. I defaulted on my student loan and I am not sorry. It was the best decision for my financial future. Soon I will have no student loan debt and no credit history of it ever being in default.