July 23, 2019
By Annie Nova
Elisha Bokman has been out of school for eight years. Still, her student loan balance is half a million dollars.
Today, for her doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine and master’s in acupuncture from Bastyr University, she owes $499,322.69.
She and her husband struggled to buy a house because of her debt. Eventually, the financial stress led them to a divorce. “He felt like he couldn’t live his life or do the things he wanted to do,” Bokman, 38, said. She wanted to open her own medical practice, but she said her student debt prevents her from getting a business loan.
“It really effects the remainder of your life,” Bokman said. “There’s no out.”
Around 178,000 graduate students owed more than $100,000 in the 2015-2016 academic year, up from 51,000 in 2003-2004, according to Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of SavingForCollege.com. In the first quarter of 2019, over 6% of all student loan borrowers owed more than $100,000, up from 5.4% in 2017.
Recently, Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed forgiving student debt. Warren’s plan would reduce people’s tabs by up to $50,000, whereas Sanders’ would erase it all.
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