The Daughter Who Got the Government to Cancel Her Mother’s Debt
When Arianna Miskin reached out to me 10 months ago, I was impressed with her boldness. She wanted to get her mother’s student loan debt forgiven. Her mother, Susan Miskin, was a retired New York City public-school teacher with a $92,000 balance that had accumulated since the late 1980s, when Susan first started borrowing to attend community college and two colleges at the City University of New York system.
Arianna was hopeful because the Biden administration had temporarily waived some Public Service Loan Forgiveness program rules that had hampered her mother’s attempts to reduce the loan balance. However, it took courage, persistence, and an understanding of the complexities of the student loan system to finally accomplish the goal.
The Struggle of Student Loan Debtors
As someone who has chronicled the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program’s sorry state for many years, I know how difficult it is for student loan debtors to navigate the complex rules and regulations of the system. Not only young graduates but also parents of debtors write to me, having taken over the often part-time job of helping their children valiantly manage their debts. The system’s complexity makes it easy for loan servicers to provide incomplete or incorrect information over the phone, which adds to borrowers’ confusion.
Susan Miskin’s Story
Susan Miskin had to raise her daughter as a single mother while working full-time as a speech-language therapist and a teacher of autistic toddlers. She made choices that came back to haunt her, such as consolidating her debt and putting her loans into forbearance when expenses overwhelmed her. Her interest rate spiked, and her balance kept growing even when she started paying again. By last year, it had risen to over $90,000, even though she had made more than $30,000 in payments.
Susan’s story isn’t unique, and it’s easy to criticize her choices when you haven’t faced similar circumstances. She had to take care of her family and keep a roof over their heads while paying off her student loans. It’s a hard choice to make, but one that many single parents have to make every day.
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was created in 2007 to help graduates who work in public service jobs pay off their student loans.
- The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a temporary waiver that paused federal student loan payments and interest accrual.
- Despite millions of borrowers believing they qualify for student loan debt forgiveness, only 1% of applicants have received loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Getting student loans forgiven is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Susan Miskin’s story shows that with persistence, understanding of the system, and knowledge of the available options, borrowers can reduce their loan balances and move towards financial freedom.
Susan Miskin’s daughter Arianna’s quest to get her mother’s student loan debt forgiven is an inspiration to all student loan debtors struggling to make ends meet. It highlights the complexity of the student loan system and the difficulties faced by single parents trying to balance their financial responsibilities with their families. While forgiveness may not be the answer for everyone, understanding the system and making informed decisions can put borrowers on the path towards financial freedom.