How a Daughter Helped Her Mother Get Her Student Loans Forgiven

Ten months ago, I received an email in my inbox that said, “I’m requesting forgiveness of my mother’s loan.” “So if I need a success story by May 2023 she turns 28, feel free to contact me.”

I have documented the tragic state of the federal government over the years. Public Service Loan Forgiveness ProgramI’ve heard plenty of twenty-something student loan debtors who couldn’t make it through the thickets of complicated rules and bureaucracy. Desperate parents who have taken over part-time jobs operating systems for the children of soldiers, public defenders and schoolteachers who work 60 to 80 hours a week speak similarly. .

But it was the first email from Ariana Miskin. She was trying to help her mother Susan Miskin, a retired public school teacher in New York City, cancel a $92,000 balance. The debt was older than her daughter.

What gave her hope was the temporary exemption introduced by the Biden administration, which changed many of the rules that had held back mothers.

I admired Ariana’s cockiness. I was moved by her quest. And I had no confidence that she could pull it off.

So what happened.

Susan Miskin first went into debt in the late 1980s to attend a community college for a bachelor’s degree and take classes at two colleges in the City University of New York system. To further her earning potential, she completed her master’s degree at a private university called Adelphi. The private university allowed her to attend nine hours of school on Saturdays when there was no work.

Ariana arrives in the middle of it, and by the time she was born, Susan and Ariana’s father had separated. Student loan debt (the first loan was just over $30,000) paid for tuition plus babysitting on Saturdays.

For a while, the mother-daughter pair went through a routine like this: In Staten Island she wakes up at 5am, leaves the house at 6am, and sends her off to Ariana’s school in Brooklyn at 7am. (“thank you, Mrs. LasellaSusan arrived at the school where she works as a speech pathologist by eight o’clock.

Susan then got a second job working with young children with autism while her daughter was in afterschool care. Pick-up was at 7:00, sometimes sooner, then a heavy traffic crossing the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge to Susan’s home, a modest Huguenot townhouse she had purchased in 2004. I went back to

The debt repayment process began while she was raising Ariana, as did the turmoil so many borrowers have faced over the years. There are different types of loans, each with different interest rates. There are several ways to pay off, consolidate, and cancel loans. Cancellation programs have different eligibility rules, and it’s not always obvious whether you meet them. Loan servicer representatives are talking on the phone because it’s so complicated. came out well Inaccurate or incomplete information.

In this situation, Susan made a few choices that caused her trouble. An employee of one of her four companies that was paying off her loans suggested consolidating her debts so that she could make only one monthly payment. Depending on the situation, this would be good advice for many people. But she, who had been sleep-deprived after giving birth, answered yes without asking enough questions. As a result, her interest rates skyrocketed.

And during the first decade of Ariana’s life, when expenses were mounting and Susan’s income had not yet risen to a comfortable range, she would often give up loans when expenses overwhelmed her. . During those 86 months the interest compounded and my balance increased even after I actually started making payments again. She paid more than $30,000, but by last year that amount had risen to more than $90,000.

“I was just another single mom,” Susan said. “If you do you’re terrible, if you don’t you’re terrible.”

It’s very easy to question other people’s choices if you haven’t faced a similar series of suboptimal situations yourself. But in case you were wondering, Susan undertook mortgage and tax payments to keep her housing costs steady and escape unpredictable rents and New York City landlords. I was.

She remained in New York City even after moving to a less expensive frontier area. Because she had a family in New York City, because she received a pension, and because Ariana eventually won admission to a highly competitive public high school with bright students.

child support? She was nearly fired early in her career for spending too many days in court trying to get more than the meager amount she had collected, and she She said she paid a significant amount of legal fees for her efforts.

Debtors are required to repay debts that they willingly assume under most circumstances.But it was the voters who put President George W. Bush into office to sign invoice In 2007 the PSLF program was born. Similar loan cancellation programs are common at the state level. red, blue or purple. Encouraging people to engage in teaching and other jobs that serve the poor and the nation is mainstream, common sense public policy.

But Susan didn’t qualify for that. She had various problems like taking out her wrong type of loan and making the wrong repayment plan. PSLF has very specific rules.

Then Ariana swooped in. According to Susan, at her 10 months old, she was the kind of kid who would walk and talk, potty train, and cuddle bullies when they started crying.

Them Waiver The Biden administration that took office last year seemed capable of wiping out all the confusing issues Susan had. They could give people credit if their payments were late or they were taking the wrong kind of loan. And what was especially helpful for Susan was being able to factor in the time to put up with her 120 payments to cancel the loan.

Ariana went to work. She spent hours on hold with the four debt collection agencies that managed Susan’s loan. When Ariana tried to track down her payment records from over a decade ago, they often went in a dizzying circle. The gatekeeper asked her to use a fax number to send her credentials. Fax number didn’t work.

Finally, Ariana left everything to the last servicer and waited. A few months later, while she was on the phone with her boss in Los Angeles, where she now lives, she received a text message from her mother. It was a picture of her reimbursement letter. Ariana’s plan worked for her.

Ariana started crying. Susan, who grabbed the mail as she tried to walk out the door, held the letter aloft and let out a cry of joy in the parking lot of a stranded diner with a flat tire. People stared. she didn’t care.

“I’m really proud that she didn’t give up on me,” Susan said.

Ariana, who has a master’s degree in public health, had more than $100,000 in student loans, even though Susan helped her pay for her studies while juggling loans from two different retirement plans of her own. has a debt of “If you don’t go to school, you won’t get a good job,” Susan said. “But I can’t afford a degree because I can’t afford it. So it’s a vicious cycle.”

But Ariana works for a health nonprofit, so she’s about a quarter of the way through PSLF to get her loan canceled. Now that Ariana is virtually a certified professional, she feels pretty comfortable about her debt.

But her mother, despite her lifelong sacrifices and career of helping those in more difficult situations than they were, never sat well. Ariana said she would “never repay what she did for me”. “She always tells me that’s not the point of being a parent, but I always wanted to do it somehow.”

Now she did. It’s a great gift for her own birthday or Susan for her mother’s day. She received her gift from Ariana too. Her mother loaned her $6,000 to cover her cross-border moving costs and the necessary security deposit for her rental apartment.

“I told her to keep it,” Susan said. “You saved me $92,000, so this is mom’s.”

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