“It’s Like I’m in Quicksand.”

Alex is a Newport News resident who is struggling to pay her student loans back.

Alex’s student loan debt is crushing her. As a Newport News resident, who works two jobs and puts in over 60 hours a week in order to make her $1,300 monthly student loan payments, she is struggling to keep up with the payments. “It’s like I’m in quicksand,” she said. “I can’t take out any other additional lines of credit. I can’t get a mortgage or take out a car loan because of my college debt.”

Drowning In Student Loan Debt

Alex graduated six years ago with $100,000 in student loan debt. She got married last year, but decided with her husband to postpone starting a family until both of their student loans were paid off. At first, her loan payments were manageable at around $800 a month. Then Navient, her loan servicer,  told her a new loan had appeared and she owed an extra $20,000.

Alex didn’t remember taking out that loan. She asked her parents about it–-they didn’t have any idea about the loan, either. Alex called Navient and asked for the original documents for the loan to prove that it existed.

“Navient is the worst with customer service,” Alex said. “They never answer the phone or my emails.”

Navient has refused to give Alex the loan information she’s requested to understand where this debt came from. Now, she’s stuck making the payments. And get this–Navient is saying that $20,000 loan accrued an additional $20,000 in interest during the time she wasn’t making payments on a loan she didn’t know existed. So now, Alex owes double on a loan she can’t confirm exists in the first place. Her monthly student loan bill skyrocketed from $800 to $1,300 a month.

Holding Navient Accountable with a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights

More than a million Virginians like Alex are burdened with student loan debt. And a lot of them are dealing with sketchy loan servicers like Navient, which is being sued by attorneys general from three different states for harming student loan borrowers throughout the repayment process. Companies like Navient are eager to profit off student loan debt.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 56 percent of Virginia’s college graduates finish school with an average debt load of $29,296. Regrettably, the pursuit of higher education means going into debt. Unless you’re rich, which you’re probably not, you’ll have to take out student loans to pay for school. People shouldn’t be punished for wanting to do better for themselves. Student loan borrowers shouldn’t have to worry about unethical companies taking advantage of them while paying for their education.

Urge the Senate to Protect Virginia Student Loan Borrowers

Virginia can address this escalating crisis with student loan debt by passing common sense legislation to help student loan borrowers. Bills calling for a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights from Delegate Marcus Simon and Senator Janet Howell would require loan servicers like Navient to follow simple rules in order to protect consumers. Last year, the Borrowers’ Bill of Rights almost passed the Senate . This year, the Senate is set to pass the Borrower’s Bill of Rights.  They need to hear from YOU. Please contact your Senator to tell them that you support a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights.