James was 44 years old when he first came to our office. James has completed his Bachelor’s of Art in Graphic Design fifteen years earlier and had barely made a dent in his loans since then, despite working full time without lapses and often taking on side-hustles to make the rent.
When politicians go on television or campaign spots or debates stages to discuss regular young people in America working two jobs simply to climb up out of debt, they’re talking about James. When baby boomers used to publish essays about millennials not buying houses or killing the magazine porn industry, they’re neglecting to consider people like James.
There was a vast education loan forgiveness program put in place, as we all know and celebrate, but the initial roll-out was predictably ineffective. It required so much paperwork, so many checked boxes, and it offered so little in the way of support that few people actually used it.
Just like Certified Application Counselors were available to help folks get the correct health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Loan Forgiveness Officers were put into place to help people make sense of the debt they’d accumulated, how much of it was forgivable, and ways to move forward in paying off the rest without resorting to dumpster diving for dinner.
James entered the office that day with over $48,000 in student debt, decades old debt, and no hope that it would ever stop following him around. He left that day understanding that he actually only owed $12,000 of that as the interest had been forgiven. It took him a year and a half to pay that off with our financial analyst creating a budget for him.
He is now working in our office designing our outreach and singing our praises to, oh my god, anyone who will fucking listen!