Debt-Free Dreams: Student Loan Forgiveness Gave Me A New Life!

16 mins read

Debt-Free Dreams: Student Loan Forgiveness Gave Me A New Life!

How do you describe the HUGE impact of a program that’s helping over 800,000 Americans? Humanize your message.

It’s hard to empathize with thousands of people at a time, but it’s much easier to relate to one person. That’s why pet shelters frame their appeal around a single, adorable puppy.

Over 800,000 student loan borrowers with billions of dollars in debt will start to have their loans discharged. The one-time account adjustment comes after the Biden administration last month announced it would forgive student loans for 804,000 borrowers with a combined $39 billion in federal student loan debt. These borrowers have been in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans for more than 20 years and “never got the credit they earned” under IDR plans.

This is the story of one borrower (we’ll call Quincey) and how the loan forgiveness has changed her life.

Listen to Quincey’s Story

Why storytelling and emotional appeal matter

People are not moved by facts and figures alone. They need to connect with your message on an emotional level, to feel that it matters to them and that it aligns with their values and aspirations. Storytelling and emotional appeal can help you do that, by creating a narrative that resonates with your audience, that shows them the benefits and the impact of a program. Understand your audience’ needs and motivations.

  • Use examples that appeal to their senses and emotions
  • Choose a tone that is authentic
  • Choose a channel that is appropriate for your audience and message
  • This could be a blog, audio or video
  • Visuals and humor increase engagement.- LinkedIn

How this personal audio story was created

I took the first had account (below) and edited it slightly to make it easier to read. This text was converted into an audio file using AI with the Audyo app. The file was uploaded to SoundCloud which can be streamed from here. Making Quincey’s account available in streaming form let’s people listen to it in 7 minutes while driving, commuting or working out.

We The 45 Million

We, The 45 Million is a campaign of student loan borrowers to win student debt cancellation and free college for all through creative organizing and direct action.Student debt is a failure of public policy, not personal responsibility. Over the past 40 years, the burden of funding higher education has shifted almost entirely from the federal and state governments to individual students and their families. As a result, low-income, working-class, and middle-class students must either forgo college education altogether, or enter into significant debt that impedes their ability to start families, purchase homes, or enter the career of their choice. College should not be a gift from parents to their children—it should be a right to all future students. Melissa Byrne is the Founder of We The 45 Million. She is a student loan borrower who has experienced the full gambit of student loans and carried her debt as a private shame, until a long time organizer challenged everyone at a meeting to confront the role banks play in creating student debt.

Donate to we the 45 million

Right wing groups try to block Student Debt Relief

“A federal judge in Michigan has rejected an effort by a pair of right-wing think tanks to stop the Biden administration from canceling the student debt of roughly 804,000 borrowers who have been making payments on their loans for more than two decades. In an 18-page decision U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington of the Eastern District of Michigan — a George W. Bush appointee — ruled that the Cato Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy lacked standing to challenge the Biden administration’s move, which is expected to automatically wipe out close to $40 billion in federal student loan debt — a small fraction of the $1.6 trillion in outstanding federal student loan debt in the U.S.” – TruthOut

What can you do with the free(mium) Audyo app?

Listen to the Digital Politics with Karen Jagoda podcast on Digital Politics radio to learn how to use Audyo to reach more people by sharing your message by streaming audio. We’ve also created other audio versions of large amounts of content so it is easier to digest:Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky (highlights)
Fani Willis Indictments against Trump (summary)
USA v Trump indictments by Jack Smith (summary)

TakeAway: Reach more people by also sharing your message by streaming audio. AI powered Audyo makes it free and easy.



Personal account of the joy of having Student Loan Forgiven (Transcript)

“I just had nearly $300K in student loans forgiven under the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) adjustment!It’s been several days and I still haven’t fully processed what it means for my life. My loans have been fully forgiven through the IDR adjustment. All $292,328.74 of them. They have been with me since my law school graduation in 1992, when my total borrowed was $59,000. I’ve paid more than $121,000 to various lenders (they were bought and resold several times) until I ended up with Sallie Mae, which was privatized as Navient. They were all federally guaranteed, low-risk loans, and I was a low-risk borrower (until I wasn’t), always paying them when I could, and getting forbearances when they couldn’t.

I’m not sure when I realized I was on the “they forgive them when you die” plan, that despite what happened in my life, I would never be able to repay them. Maybe it was when I realized that I wasn’t eligible for PSLF, despite a career of working in public interest jobs. There was no Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) when I graduated, even though I had 17 years in 501(c)(3) jobs. There were no income driven repayment plans: if you couldn’t make the full payment, you had to get a forbearance, because partial payments were not accepted.) Or when I realized that Navient made so much money from putting me in forbearances that they would cheerfully do so whenever I asked them, even though I was supposedly “out” of forbearances. I remember those There was a point where I started to believe loan forgiveness could happen, or at least with income sensitive repayment plans, that I could start a consulting firm safe in the knowledge that I could navigate around the uncertainty associated with starting a new business and the lack of a regular paycheck. Then Trump was elected instead, and I despaired of ever getting out from under the loans.

Under the new Biden administration, I consolidated my loans, to get away from Navient who didn’t have the pandemic payment pause, but didn’t tell me until after I was 90 days past due and it showed up on my credit report) and to be eligible for whatever forgiveness might happen. When modifications that made my public interest work newly eligible for PSLF were announced, I met with an attorney who was able to sort out all my payments and advise me on PSLF eligibility (Ultimately, I was 23 months/payments short, so I would have had to give up consulting and go back to public interest employment to go that route).Then the income driven adjustment (IDR) was announced in April 2022, and it was clear that I should be eligible for full forgiveness (with over 30 years in the system). I waited and watched, not getting my hopes up too much, especially after the Supreme Court decision where my new loan servicer MOHELA prevailed.It is the new student loan servicer for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Check the status of your PSLF form at MOHELA  www.mohela.comA month ago, out of the blue, I saw on a GenX Facebook group that some people were getting letters saying they were eligible for partial or full forgiveness under the IDR adjustment. Somehow I had missed it in my in-box, so I went back to check, and it was there. It said that the first round of account adjustments would start on August 13. I still expected it to take several months, since DoE had to contact MOHELA to let them know what the forgiven amount would be. And then in the meantime, there was the Cato Institute lawsuit to stop the IDR plan, and I figured there would be a TRO/injunction that would further delay enforcement.

But on Monday, the lawsuit was dismissed, August 13th had passed, and Melissa told me to check my balance. still has the full balance, but the last update was 7/31. But MOHELA had what is attached below. I didn’t believe my eyes, and there have been all kinds of account adjustments related to the consolidation and now gearing back up for the resumption of payments, so I sat with it for a little while, and then called MOHELA to make sure. The agent said “you have been zeroed out, let me be the first to congratulate you on the forgiveness of your loan.” She wasn’t the first, I had started to tell a few people close to me, but very tentatively since I was convinced there had to be some catch.

This is the real deal. I’ve told people since that it would have been life-changing 20 years ago, but I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to go back to repayment and continuing to have this weight over me as I face my senior years. (I’m 56, but my current repayment plan, had I resumed payments, would have continued for 25 more years, into my 80s.) As it stands, I don’t own a home, I have no retirement plan, I never had children, and only in the last five years have I moved beyond living from paycheck to paycheck.

And there has been so much shame around this, as I watch my professional peers become more and more financially successful while still maintaining their values. I am glad that I never was forced to compromise what I believe in to take a job that would pay off this debt, but there are plenty of people who advised me to do that over the years, despite what it would have meant for my professional reputation, and my soul. There are plenty out there still who argue that you cannot be a good person if you don’t pay your debts, no matter how impossible it may be to ever pay off such a predatory debt.

I cannot thank Melissa Byrne enough. I will never be able to repay what her efforts have brought about. She never has lost sight of the fact that only full cancellation will be enough. I was not eligible for the $10K to $20K forgiveness, but as you can see from my total balance, it would not have made a dent. I would have been fine with an interest adjustment much of this is because interest rates were high when I graduated, and so my loans were at 9%, even though people who graduated a few years later were at 3%. I would have been fine with cancellation beyond a certain percentage paid, as I’ve already paid double what I originally borrowed.

But nothing beats full forgiveness. I really hope we have cancellation while people in their 20s and 30s can make the kinds of life decisions and plans for the future that my loans denied me the ability to make, and people my age and older don’t have to fear becoming destitute, or know that they will have to work until they die, when they are forgiven.”

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