Loan Forgiveness Stories from Social Workers

NASW collects stories of loan debt to assist in our efforts to advocate for loan forgiveness for social workers. Social work students often have to take out large loans to complete their schooling at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. The salaries that social workers earn often make it difficult to afford student loan payments. The stories below are a sampling of the stories we have received from students, new graduates, and seasoned professionals.

I was a non-traditional student due to me being in my forties when I had to take a loan out for school. I took loans out for the four years that I was in school, 1999-2005. Along with my loans I had to take loans out for my daughter so that she was able to go to college as well. With the both of our loans, I owe over $60,000.00 in student loans. Due to my financial situation, I had to put my loans in forbearance because I am living on a social worker’s salary trying to live with at least the basics such as clothing, food, shelter and transportation. It’s definitely been a struggle and I have tried to find help with getting debt relief but they want you to pay down your loan so far but who can do that with a loan payment that is just about as much as a mortgage payment. The interest alone is out of this world and makes it even harder to pay. I am hoping to one day pay the loan but I do not think that it will be completely paid off in my lifetime it’s just too overwhelming.

Lisa, Ohio

I was a non-traditional student returning to college as an older adult, wife and mother. I was not working at the time I went back to school but knew I had to return and finish my education. My first student loan was taken out in October of 2009 and my last loan was taken in August of 2013. I worked off and on throughout school but was mostly a full time student. I managed to make it through most of my undergrad with scholarships but then had to turn to student loans due to an inability to work full time, attend school, take care of my family and pay for school and school expenses. My degree doesn't offer many opportunities without a Master's degree so I knew it was something that I needed to complete. Now I don't know how I will pay back my loans because my salary only increased to $35000.00. My loan debt is $61,565. It hasn't folded out exactly as I had imagined. I need help.

Tammy, Mississippi

As a single mother it took me 12 years attending evening and online classes to complete my BSW degree while raising my 2 children. I graduated in 2010 with a total debt of $48,000. I have managed to pay this down to $27,000, but since I consolidated my loans a few years ago I am not eligible for PAYE. I also am not eligible for loan forgiveness on this debt unless I first pursue a higher MSW or LCSW degree. I am looking into the possibility of a distance education program, but as the primary caregiver for my elderly mother in a very rural community I am place-bound and limited. At the moment I am focusing on paying my current loans down and getting my 2 children, now ages 21 and 23, through college without having them face overwhelming debt as well.

Jan, Nevada

I took out a student loan in Fall 2012 thru summer 2013 from Hunter College. My debt is $44,000. I am experiencing hardships at the present moment. I am a single parent with 4 children of whom 3 are presently in college. My income is just enough to support my family if that. I would be delighted if anything can be done to make these loan payments make sense; and allow me not to live check by check.

Maritza, New York
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