Student Debt: A $400,000 Mistake

Last Updated Dec 3, 2009 2:16 PM EST

A panel of judges in New York has determined that a man, who has racked $400,000 worth of student loan Student Debt: A $400,000 Mistakedebt, doesn't deserve to be a lawyer.

The five judges decided last week that Robert Bowman, whose odyssey to become a lawyer included four tries at the bar exam, was disqualified from being a lawyer because of his heavy student debt.

What these judges didn't explain is how Bowman could possibly pay off his crush of student loan debt without getting a job as an attorney. The judge's decision made me wonder what's next: Debtor prisons for delinquent student borrowers?

Bowman isn't the only former student who has been denied a professional license because of student debt. Accrediting boards elsewhere have denied licenses or license renewals to nurses, physicians, chiropractors and other professionals because of student debt problems. You can find some of these horror stories at StudentLoanJustice.org. Another place to read heart-breaking accounts of student debt is at Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy and on the group's Facebook page.

Many people will look at the level of debt that Bowman and other former students racked up and think they deserve to suffer. What outsiders don't realize is that student lenders can slap hideous penalties and fees onto accounts that can make debt can rise exponentially in a very short time. Lenders also ignore borrowers legitimate requests for temporary repayment postponements and even those that get it are punished financially. Loan sharks can lend money on more favorable terms.

The student debt issue is not going away. I predict it will become a hot political issue. All you have to do is look at how quickly the Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy has taken off. While it was created this year, it has nearly 250,000 members on its Facebook page.

With more families turning to student loans and the jobless recovery squeezing those with debt, I hope 2010 will be the year when Congress provides some relief.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also blogs about college at TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Student loan image by Bloomsberries. CC 2.0.

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