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I Said No to My Student Loan: One Borrower's Decision to Stop Paying

I am aware of the total lack of consumer protection associated with student debt. But I took a long, hard look at the numbers, and I realized that I am already a slave.

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But you’re not even poor!
We have a myth of the “deserving poor” in our culture – it’s similar to the myth of the “good rape victim.” But like most people living real lives, I have my financial ups and downs. I’ve all sorts of things these last few years: walking people’s dogs for grocery money, sitting in a cafe in Chelsea, drinking a glass of moderately priced champagne and asking the readers of this blog for Paypal donations.

As a writer and journalist, I supplement my income with freelance writing gigs, much like my director husband supplements his with acting gigs. All of that together makes up our family budget. When the gigs dry up, so does the money going towards my loans. We’ve been chasing more work, but as the economy continues to suffer, and the cost of living goes up while jobs evaporate, people like us end up competing for jobs that barely exist. And I would rather have what little money I have left right now into paying down my government loans (at least the interest rates there are not ridiculous) and the modest amount I had to spend on credit cards while being between jobs.

Consequences will never be the same!*
Some people kill themselves after defaulting on student loans. Driving these folks to suicide is an essential component of the system, because, once again, it keeps the rest of us in line. I know the consequences are going to be devastating – it’s part of the reason why I’m so pissed off.

What are you even trying to accomplish here?
Besides making my situation clear for the loan sharks who will come a-callin’? I want to make a public promise that I am not going to put student debt ahead of my needs and the needs of my family anymore. I also want to once again point out the obvious – something is seriously wrong here.

Fox News can spin stories such as mine however it wants to, but at the end of the day, we’ve got people saying that student debt is hurting the economy as well as individuals. Maybe they’re right. I don’t know if there is a clear explanation for why we have ended up with this system in the first place. All I can tell you is that it is crushing people beneath its weight. I live abroad now – so people can say that I am one of the lucky ones, for now. I don’t know, maybe society will continue to deteriorate and eventually we’ll have debtors’ prisons – though then again, with the way the system is rigged, we don’t need debtors’ prisons. Awesome, ain’t it?

Natalia Antonova is a journalist & playwright living in Moscow.

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