Due to a period of chronic unemployment/underemployment I had to move several times while keeping my student loan debt in forbearance. After a move in 2007, I forgot to inform the loan holder of my new address and forgot that I needed to re-file for forbearance. Two years later, I got hung out to dry, with the subsequent years spent being harassed by debt collectors who presented only the remedy of "consolidation" of a loan on which I am already unable to pay even the interest. The amount I will then owe is nearly DOUBLE the amount I currently owe and they want to also pile on an extremely generous collection fee of nearly $20,000. I should mention that I borrowed the money to pay both school and living costs while I did my student teaching, an unpaid, "half-time" internship.
I put "half-time" in quotes because while the classroom time required was half that of full-time teachers, I had two "preps", meaning I had to prepare curriculum for two separate classes and I dedicated myself to the development and implementation of a completely original form of classroom management employing Roberts Rules of parliamentary procedure to run the class. The students ran the class by motions, nominations, and votes. I took myself almost completely out of the discipline role to moderate and lecture for their class, which they had to ASK me to do through a vote to get the information they needed for their class tests (grades) in beginning and advanced debate. It was a great experience, made possible only through the loan, which the students overwhelmingly benefitted from and appreciated. I have been punished for it every day since. Also since that year: the decline of public speaking and debate classes taught in our schools. From where will our future lawyers come? Save
The National Consumer Law Center has put together a great resource at http://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org. Start there. But please don't fall for any of the student loan debt relief programs constantly springing up these days. You'll end up in worse shape than before.