Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.
When President Obama was debating Mitt Romney, he patted himself on the back because of the strides he took to give young people the chance to get an education by making student loans available. I guess making loans available is all that really matters, because after all, who cares about having the loans paid off? That’s the one thing that he didn’t mention: once you accept the loans, you’ll be bent over a barrel for the rest of your life — unless, of course, you’re able to become a Senator and then write a couple of best-selling books.
I think that most students realize they’ll spend the vast majority of their lives paying off the loans they took out to further their educational pursuits. What many may not realize is just how ridiculous the government is when it comes to getting their money back. Their tactics and terms fall just short of being classified as Mafia-like. On the bright side, if there is one, at least no one’s broken my legs yet.
Although the government may allow for a deferment for economic hardship, if you have a full time job, it’s likely that you won’t meet the strict requirements to attain that deferment. Because even when you work a job that only allows you to live in your parents’ basement, essentially as dependent upon them as you were in high school, the fine United States government still expects timely repayment.
That’s right: I currently make too much money to qualify for an economic hardship deferment, and I work for just over minimum wage. Earning the least amount of money per hour that I ever have in my life, I am making too much money to earn the government’s pity….
I’ve said countless times that discharging student debts through bankruptcy is nearly impossible because you must make a showing of “undue hardship.”
Showing undue hardship is a very high bar, and it takes a very long time. Prospective law students don’t really understand the difference between student loan debt and something like credit card debt until it’s way too late. And even when it’s too late, most people (and many lawyers) feel that it’s not even worth trying to convince a bankruptcy judge that a person holding a J.D. has the “certainty of hopelessness” required to get student debts discharged.
But an article this weekend in the New York Times suggested that more people should give “undue hardship” a whirl. Sure, the guy the Times chose to feature is freaking blind, but even absent a physical disability, the article suggests that undue hardship might be a real possibility for most people.
Hey, it doesn’t hurt to try. At least, it hurts less than the likely plan B of stabbing out your own eyes….
Yale is making a slight change to its low-income loan forgiveness program, and it’s going to make it a little harder for people who leave Yale Law School and take low-paying jobs.
Now, this isn’t anything to yell and scream about. Yale is still committed to making loan repayment feasible for people who don’t take the Biglaw money and run. And they still have one of the most generous programs in the country.
But the program is getting a little less generous. Which isn’t a great sign about the long-term ability of lawyers who have the financial flexibility to service poor or working-class clients….
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, more and more law school graduates are trying to seek bankruptcy protection from their mountains of student loan debt. Bankruptcy? Really?
Now, we know that reading comprehension is tested on the LSAT, but apparently, once students complete the law school entrance exam, that skill goes right out the window. How do we know? Because law school graduates, who freely signed up for student loans as law students, are now trying to shirk their repayment responsibilities. They are the 99% (of people who sign on the dotted line and think nothing of it until it’s time to face the consequences).
All the documents these law school graduates signed and claimed to have read and understood prior to accepting their student loans — well, they had some words to say about bankruptcy. Important words. Here are some of them, pulled from my very own master promissory note:
We will discharge (forgive) your loan if: [y]our loan is discharged in bankruptcy. However, federal student loans are not automatically discharged if you file for bankruptcy. In order to have your loan discharged in bankruptcy, you must prove to the bankruptcy court that repaying the loan would cause undue hardship.
Aww, you think you’ve got an undue hardship, precious little snowflake? Well, think again….
Two petitions of possible interest showed up in our inbox today:
1. In favor of student loan forgiveness: This petition, reminiscent of Elie Mystal’s call for a student loan bailout, “strongly encourage[s] Congress and the President to support H. Res. 365, introduced by Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), seeking student loan forgiveness as a means of economic stimulus.” (We mentioned H.R. 365 in Morning Docket.)
We write about depressing news for law students and law school graduates all too often these days, which is a very, very sad thing. We know that you don’t want to be reminded about the impending doom you may soon face. We really do wish that we had more positive news to report. But in this economy, it’s just not possible.
Gone are the days when earning a JD meant having automatic employment prospects. Gone are the days when having student loans wasn’t completely debilitating. These days, the JD has taken on a new meaning. It doesn’t just mean Juris Doctor anymore. These two are a little more fitting: Job Dilemma and Jumbo Dumbass.
The Connecticut Law Tribune has come out with an informative piece just in time for new 1Ls to realize that they may have embarked upon a six-figure mistake….
There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about how law schools are failing to adequately prepare recent graduates for the working world. Because after having your nose in a book for three years, let’s face it, you probably don’t know how to do “useful things with the law” that would actually help a client.
And in the spirit of killing two birds with one stone, law schools may soon have a solution for both of these problems. Instead of inventing temporary jobs to make you “practice-ready,” they might invent a whole law firm….
I don't care how it works, just give me my degree.
My wife and I have made this proposal to our Harvard creditors: they forgive our debt, we give the school a baby. A “pure-bred” Harvard baby that Harvard can dress up or perform experiments on or whatever. It will have to be a black baby, which might underwhelm some Harvard officials, but that’s got to be canceled out by the fact that the media won’t much care about what Harvard wants to do to/with a black baby. The “where’s the justice of Caylee????!!!!!” crowd won’t be on their ass.
I think it’s an elegant solution. My wife thinks I’m getting off easy (because my “contribution” to this form of debt repayment would once again be de minimis). And our creditors say: “We only accept straight cash, homey.”
But I’m just ahead of my time. In the U.K., people are already suggesting that indebted students should be given the opportunity to barter down their loans with sacrifices of the flesh….
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