An Army veteran in his 70s is still struggling to pay off a student loan that he took 45 years ago, despite hardly having made a dent in the debt.
The man, identified only as C.W. Hamilton, had borrowed $5,250 to pay for his aviation studies degree at Cochise College in Arizona in 1977. However, after falling out with an instructor, he quit the course and took up a series of low-wage jobs.
Hamilton, a resident of Reno, Nevada, has said that the debt followed him like an anchor around his neck. His low-wage jobs coupled with the interest made it difficult for him to keep up with loan repayments.
Hamilton believes that he never received notifications to make payments for the first decade after leaving school, as he moved frequently for work and did not have a fixed address. This meant that his debt kept adding up as the years went by.
The veteran's debt finally caught up with him when he began receiving Social Security disability benefits, and the government began garnishing his benefits through the Treasury Offset Program.
Despite paying more than $13,000, Hamilton's debt was hardly reduced as none of the money went towards the principal. Hamilton said that despite climbing out of poverty at various points in his life, his debt kept going up.
Despite Hamilton's difficult financial situation, he remained determined to pay off his student loan debt. He started sending small payments of $20 every month in the hope that the amount he owed will eventually decrease.
However, his $20 payment plan was not enough to cover the interest that has been accumulating on his loan for over four decades. As a result, the amount he owed continued to increase, even though he had been making regular payments.
Thankfully, there are some solutions in place to help people like Hamilton. The Biden administration's temporary waiver of the rules governing default is just one example of measures being taken to ease the burden of student loan debt.
Other options include income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, arrangements to pay and loan consolidation. However, navigating the complex world of student loan debt can be daunting, and many borrowers are unaware of their options.
The Biden administration’s temporary waiving of the rules governing default will allow individuals like Hamilton to have their loans placed in good standing once the payment pause ends, even if they have defaulted multiple times in the past.
The move will also prevent the seizure of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits, providing relief to those who have struggled to make ends meet due to the pandemic. For Hamilton, the waiver could provide a much-needed "fresh start" and the hope of finally shedding his lifelong burden.
Many people can relate to Hamilton's struggle to pay off student loan debt. In the United States, the student loan crisis affects millions of borrowers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet due to the high cost of education and the low-paying jobs that often follow.