Perhaps by now you’ve heard of the gentleman who wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about intentionally defaulting on his student loan debt. He tries to make an eloquent argument about why he made the choice, and encourages others to do the same. But here’s the thing…you should never take advice from someone unqualified to give it. Defaulting on any kind of debt – regardless of your personal convictions – is downright irresponsible and beneath anyone who has ever signed their name, or shaken another person’s hand in an agreement. You might think you’re sticking it to the government or big business, but in reality you’re hurting those who are just like you.
Yes, companies like Sallie Mae or Navient are evil empires caring only about profits and nothing about the individuals who feel as if they’ve signed their lives over to the Student Loan Demons of the Abyss. But, whether its student loans, credit cards, the car you wanted and knew wasn’t practical, or the house you knew you couldn’t afford, the point is you signed your name, you gave your word, and now you have to repay those loans or experience some pretty harsh consequences.
Sticking your fingers in your ears and hoping the problem will go away is the same logic you used when you were ten years old. Eventually, Mom and Dad find out about the plate you broke, and then hold you accountable. Student Loan Debt is much like your parents. You can try and run and hide as long as you can, but eventually they’re going to find and hold you accountable by taking the money you owe them anyway. Does it suck? You betcha. Is it fair? Well, unfortunately it doesn’t matter. What does matter is you made an obligation and those companies have the law on their side when it comes to collecting on those obligations.
The author of the opinion piece points out many of the difficulties that come with making the choice to default on your student loans. He does not, however, go into much detail about just how much those difficulties suck and make your life way more miserable than if you had just figured out a way to repay your loans and took the steps to make the debt manageable. Look, most everyone falls behind on their debt, student loan or otherwise; the trick is not panicking and definitely not ignoring your debt in the hopes that the blue fairy will somehow magically make them go away.
Once you go 270 days without making a payment, you can be officially considered “in default.” When this happens, the government takes the gloves off and comes after you with everything they have. If you’ve never had a paycheck garnished, you’ve never truly experienced the helpless anger and resentment that comes with it. It’s awful. There are ALWAYS options out there for you. Sometimes it just takes a single phone call; sometimes it requires more of your time and patience. Regardless, trying to ignore the problem or listening to bad advice are the worst possible things you can do.