Feel bad about the size of your student loans and potential inability to repay them?
Trust me. It could be worse. You could be Cheryl Craig.
Ms. Craig racked up $80,000+ in student loans (including interest) attending Pima Community College and the University of Arizona to get an AA in paralegal studies in 1992, and a BA in sociology in 1996. But she's now 47 years old and has only been able to find work as a customer service representative for Anderson Financial Network, earning $10 per hour and typically working fifty to sixty-five hours every two weeks.
How's her life at $10/hour and $80,000 in student loan debt? Not so good. Her income in 2004 was $16,815, and she had monthly expenses of $1,873, which included a $150 monthly mortgage payment on her mobile home. Not exactly living a life of luxury in the deserts of Arizona, eh?
But at least she's got her health, right? Uh, well, sort of. "Craig’s employment  was protected under the Family Medical Leave Act, which permits Craig to miss up to 400 hours of work per year as a result of doctor certified medical issues and still keep her full-time employment status. This is significant because Craig suffers from numerous serious medical problems, including asthma, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, heart problems (she had a heart attack in 2002), acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic back problems. These medical problems require the monthly intervention of, and monitoring by, several physicians, and a daily regime of prescription drugs. Even with the benefit of health insurance, Craig’s out-of-pocket medical costs were approximately $350 per month in 2004."
I'm not a big fan of forgiving student loans. But at some point, it's just not plausible to pay 'em back. To me, this looks like one of those times.