Initially, twenty some years ago, I worked on the side of the student loan companies. Whenever someone in the State of Florida sought to discharge federal student loan debt in bankruptcy, I was often trial counsel for the student loan company. Our clients ranged from Sallie Mae, ECMC, TERI and USA Funds. Our track record was excellent – I recall losing only one trial down in Miami. It wasn’t really due to any great lawyering skills, it simply was very difficult to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. I traveled around the state handling trials and appeals in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Myers and even Miami area – it may have been Fort Lauderdale – all I remember is it was a long way down there!
Why did I do that type of work? Well, I felt grateful for my own loans and believed in the system and wanted to help to make sure it was around for future borrowers. I would not be a lawyer today if it weren’t for the student loan system.
But you could say I’ve seen the light since then. Today, I work for borrowers. Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible for the vast majority of student borrowers to actually pay off their debt. When I graduated back in 1992, I owed 45k and my first job right out of law school paid 40k – roughly a 1 to 1 ratio. Fortunately, it was never hard for me to pay off that debt. But nowadays, I’ll see 3 to 1 ratios all the time, i.e. someone owing 90k in loans, but only making 30k.