In The News: ‘I’m Drowning’: Those Hit Hardest By Student Loan Debt Never Finished College

August 1, 2019

By Elissa Nadworny, NPR

Most days, 25-year-old Chavonne can push her student loan debt to the back of her mind.

Between short-term office jobs in the Washington, D.C., area, she drives for Uber. But once in awhile, a debt collector will get hold of her cellphone number — the one she keeps changing to avoid them — and it all comes back fresh. “I’ll be like, ‘Oh no!’ ” she says. “It’s a sad reminder that I owe somebody money!”

In April, she got another reminder when the government seized her tax refund.

All this for a degree she never finished.

Back in high school, she recalls, her teachers and friends pushed her to go to college. And so, without too much thought, Chavonne enrolled at the University of Mississippi and borrowed about $20,000 to pay for it.

Far away from home and in a challenging environment, she struggled — and after three semesters, she’d had enough. Her college days are five years behind her, but the debt she took on is not.

Today, rent, car payments, gas and food are higher up on her list of priorities. And so she’s in default, not paying on her loans.

The one thing that could help Chavonne earn more money, of course, is earning a degree. But because she’s in default, she doesn’t have access to federal student aid that could help her go back and finish. It’s a vicious cycle for Chavonne and millions of other students who leave college with debt and without a degree.

From mid-2014 to mid-2016, 3.9 million undergraduates with federal student loan debt dropped out, according to an analysis of federal data by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news organization.

The default rate among borrowers who didn’t complete their degree is three times as high as the rate for borrowers who did earn a diploma. When these students stop taking classes, they don’t get the wage bump that graduates get that could help them pay back their loans.

The perception is, work hard and pay what you owe, says Tiffany Jones, who leads higher education policy at the Education Trust, “but it’s not manageable even if you’re working.”

To Read More Click Link Below:

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/18/739451168/i-m-drowning-those-hit-hardest-by-student-loan-debt-never-finished-college

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