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Student Loan Borrowers Got the Debt, but Not the Degree

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“I had really good professors who were for probably the most part really understanding, nevertheless it was an excessive amount of,” she said. “It was a tumultuous time.”

Ms. Summers-Polite withdrew from her classes in spring 2012 with a medical note that prevented her from receiving failing grades, however the debt had already begun to build up.

She said she had deferred her payments so long as she could, which meant the unpaid interest was tacked on to her balance. Then she borrowed more in the summertime of 2013, when she returned to take just a few more classes. After that, she took a two-year break to work, which provided much-needed medical health insurance after she was not eligible for her parents’ plan.

Ms. Summers-Polite, who lives in Miami, gave education one other try in 2016, but once a gorgeous job opportunity arose — communications director for the activist group — she took it, and hasn’t returned. She said she was making good money now, but her loans had already fallen into default, and getting out isn’t so simple as beginning to send monthly payments again.

Ms. Summers-Polite was married in November, and her husband, a spa coordinator at a big gym, has $27,000 in debt of his own. He just went back to high school after a 10-year break, and is taking out more loans to pay for it.

She would really like to complete her degree, too, but isn’t ready to pay out of pocket for classes, particularly with the pandemic pause on payments set to finish later this 12 months and her enormous debt looming.

“Prior to now few years, it has been this glaring thing in my periphery,” she said, “getting larger and greater.”

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

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