Friday, September 04, 2009

In Re Craig (9th Cir. - Aug. 26, 2009)

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.