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Meet a repairman with $37,000 in student debt who's struggling to pay it off and handle medical bills. He's pleading to be included in Biden's new relief plan.


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https://www.yahoo.com/news/meet-repairman-37-000-student-114601693.html

 

 
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Chris Fleshren is just a few years away from retirement, and he's sick of dealing with the "bureaucratic" student-loan industry.

When Fleshren, 63, graduated in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Geographic Information Systems, he did everything he could to get a job in that field — from sending out resumes, going to job fairs, and actively monitoring job boards — but he has not been able to land steady employment using his degree and now works as a kitchen equipment repairman.

After getting an associate's degree in 1983 and working as an airline mechanic for years, Fleshren said that the airline work wasn't stable, and he saw school as an opportunity to further his career and earn a higher income.

"I tried to better myself trying to get an education, trying to get somewhere, but apparently I did it too late in life," he told Insider. "I have no criminal history, nothing but good employment history, and I just couldn't get a job."

Now, Fleshren has just over $37,000 in student debt from his bachelor's degree, according to documents reviewed by Insider, and while he's been able to pay his bill since monthly federal student-loan payments resumed in October, he said he's not sure how much longer he can afford to do so while also juggling thousands of dollars in medical bills for his wife's care.

Millions of borrowers are now dealing with a monthly bill they haven't paid in over three years due to the pandemic pause on student-loan payments. President Joe Biden's Education Department has implemented a 12-month "on-ramp" period during which it won't actively report any missed payments to credit agencies, along with a new SAVE income-driven repayment plan intended to lower borrowers' monthly payments.

However, that relief isn't enough for some borrowers as they struggle to afford basic necessities and other forms of debt.

"I have not defaulted. I have been able to stay up to date on the payments. But I'm not convinced in the least that I'm going to be able to continue to do that," Fleshren said.

"I have about two months worth of bills, maybe three months worth of bills, in my checking account and we have no savings," he continued. "I'm a year or two away from retirement. Are they going to make me pay a fourth of my Social Security to pay off my student loans when I'm 66 years old?"

'There's just too many payments'

The Education Department is currently in the process of crafting its new plan for student-loan forgiveness. At the end of June, the Supreme Court struck down the department's first attempt at broad debt relief. Now, it's using the Higher Education Act of 1965 to tailor a new relief plan that will be more narrow than the first time around.

The law requires the department to undergo a process called negotiated rulemaking, which includes a series of negotiation sessions and period of public comment before publishing the final rule. The department recently asked negotiators to help it define what would qualify as "hardship" for borrowers to get relief, and Fleshren hopes his situation meets the criteria.

"I have to pay for my wife's car, plus food, plus utilities, plus the mortgage, plus the car payment," Fleshren said. "There's just too many payments and if I don't qualify for hardship, I just don't know what I'm going to do."

Negotiators floated a range of ideas for who might qualify for hardship, including Pell Grant recipients, borrowers with a disability, or those dealing with significant childcare or medical expenses. The negotiating committee will meet one more time in December to provide input on Biden's next attempt at relief, and Fleshren said giving all his spare time to caring for his wife, "which keeps me from getting another job to help pay my loans and debts, should be factored in."

"They should consider significant medical bills, if there's significant medical hardship in the household where I'd have to pay Medicaid to get my wife care in addition to the $15,000 in surgical bills that are still outstanding," he said.

'The stress of it all is just ridiculous'

Along with the financial burden his student debt brings, Fleshren also said he's frustrated with the challenges of simply communicating with his student-loan servicer, Nelnet. He said that every time he's sent an email to the company to get assistance with his repayment, he received the automatic response: there is high email and call volume, and Nelnet's ability to respond is delayed.

The hours-long hold times on the phone with customer service doesn't make matters easier.

"I've never gotten a response. It's just been crickets. Absolutely no response, no reply, and the stress of it all is just ridiculous," Fleshren said. "As far as I'm concerned, I should be allowed to not pay them until they respond. And I should not be penalized in any way for for not paying. They want their money, then talk to me about me paying you the money you want from me."

The poor customer service has been an issue across all federal servicers, and the Education Department is aware of the challenges borrowers have been facing. It most recently withheld October pay from another servicer, MOHELA, over failure to properly communicate billing information to borrowers. The department stressed it will take additional oversight measures if it finds other servicers are not performing their basic duties.

"I understand they want me to pay them and I'm willing to pay them," Fleshren said. "But I don't know if it's their ineptitude or lack of staffing. I don't know what the reason is for not talking to me. But if they're not going to communicate with me, why would I continue to put money down a black hole when I have an urgent issue that needs resolving?"

 

 

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Any person that needs help in paying bills and I know there many out there. Should first open up entire financial situation for review to determine areas that can be trimmed or cut. For instance, a person needing help may also be smoking 2 cartons of cigarettes per week and drinking a 6 pack every night. When the overall review determines help is needed then provide the help. 

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Let's continue promoting extreme inequality.   Let's continue subsidizing the wealthy more than the poor.

The losers will always cry.  Don't be a bleeding heart. 

People are only rich as a result of hard work.  People are only poor because they are lazy, unmotivated, unwilling to work.

The government is in debt, poverty is rising.  The wealthy in this country need to run this country. 

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1 hour ago, creed said:

Any person that needs help in paying bills and I know there many out there. Should first open up entire financial situation for review to determine areas that can be trimmed or cut. For instance, a person needing help may also be smoking 2 cartons of cigarettes per week and drinking a 6 pack every night. When the overall review determines help is needed then provide the help. 

You are being too kind, too much of a humanitarian.   Those who "deserve" help,,, have already helped themselves.  NO poor people deserve help.  If they did,,, they would not be poor.

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8 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

You are being too kind, too much of a humanitarian.   Those who "deserve" help,,, have already helped themselves.  NO poor people deserve help.  If they did,,, they would not be poor.

What are you talking about?

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On 11/25/2023 at 11:35 AM, icanthearyou said:

Let's continue promoting extreme inequality.   Let's continue subsidizing the wealthy more than the poor.

The losers will always cry.  Don't be a bleeding heart. 

People are only rich as a result of hard work.  People are only poor because they are lazy, unmotivated, unwilling to work.

The government is in debt, poverty is rising.  The wealthy in this country need to run this country. 

This man is not an 18 year old kid who got duped into exorbitant loans. He was a 53 year old man who made a deliberate decision to take out a loan, less than most car loans. Why should taxpayers be on the hook for that? You turn every issue into a macroeconomic issue. Sometimes people create their own bad situation by making wrong decisions. 

I am sympathetic about the medical bills. Our healthcare system has needed a complete overhaul for decades. 

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15 hours ago, Gowebb11 said:

This man is not an 18 year old kid who got duped into exorbitant loans. He was a 53 year old man who made a deliberate decision to take out a loan, less than most car loans. Why should taxpayers be on the hook for that? You turn every issue into a macroeconomic issue. Sometimes people create their own bad situation by making wrong decisions. 

I am sympathetic about the medical bills. Our healthcare system has needed a complete overhaul for decades. 

Perhaps you have to try to understand how financializing all systems is inherently inhumane?  Perhaps you should try to understand how education is far less subsidized now than in the past?  Perhaps you just need to have more heart for those who are less fortunate.  Does there need necessarily mean you must sacrifice?  Finally, we are a society.  We need to try to work together, for all.  That is our best way forward. 

We need to stop blaming the poor and powerless.  We need to stop using them as an excuse.  We need to examine those with power, how they use that power,,, particularly when you consider the concentrations of wealth, power in our society.

Why do you not want to help others?  Relative equality is important,,, economically, politically, morally.

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6 minutes ago, icanthearyou said:

Perhaps you have to try to understand how financializing all systems is inherently inhumane?  Perhaps you should try to understand how education is far less subsidized now than in the past?  Perhaps you just need to have more heart for those who are less fortunate.  Does there need necessarily mean you must sacrifice?  Finally, we are a society.  We need to try to work together, for all.  That is our best way forward. 

We need to stop blaming the poor and powerless.  We need to stop using them as an excuse.  We need to examine those with power, how they use that power,,, particularly when you consider the concentrations of wealth, power in our society.

Why do you not want to help others?  Relative equality is important,,, economically, politically, morally.

  You ignored my question. A grown man took out a loan and now doesn’t want to pay it  back. He wants others to pick up the tab. How is that my fault or responsibility. And how do you deem him to be powerless? 
 

Somewhere between being heartless, greedy SOBs and holding people accountable for their decisions is the real world that most of us live in. And you need to stop casting judgements on people you’ve never met. It’s very unflattering.  

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19 minutes ago, Gowebb11 said:

  You ignored my question. A grown man took out a loan and now doesn’t want to pay it  back. He wants others to pick up the tab. How is that my fault or responsibility. And how do you deem him to be powerless? 
 

Somewhere between being heartless, greedy SOBs and holding people accountable for their decisions is the real world that most of us live in. And you need to stop casting judgements on people you’ve never met. It’s very unflattering.  

Perhaps,,, when you are the one in the desert without a canteen,,, you will understand.

Helping others should be our nature.  We have been so trained/conditioned to compete,,, that we have forgotten the benefits of cooperation. 

I am sorry you feel "judged".  No one is judging you.  Your feelings are understandable.

I would suggest your first task should be examining how much "welfare" in this country goes to those who do not need it versus,,, a real social safety net.

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2 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

Perhaps,,, when you are the one in the desert without a canteen,,, you will understand.

Helping others should be our nature.  We have been so trained/conditioned to compete,,, that we have forgotten the benefits of cooperation. 

I am sorry you feel "judged".  No one is judging you.  Your feelings are understandable.

I would suggest your first task should be examining how much "welfare" in this country goes to those who do not need it versus,,, a real social safety net.

Would not exactly describe this guy as “on a desert with no canteen” but that is you being you. Paying off student debt is a tough one. Some may deserve relief. Lots have made stupid decisions and many have abused student loan availability. 
 

This particular story not really different than an older person investing in a retail business then discovering no customers.

 

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3 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

Perhaps,,, when you are the one in the desert without a canteen,,, you will understand.

Helping others should be our nature.  We have been so trained/conditioned to compete,,, that we have forgotten the benefits of cooperation. 

I am sorry you feel "judged".  No one is judging you.  Your feelings are understandable.

I would suggest your first task should be examining how much "welfare" in this country goes to those who do not need it versus,,, a real social safety net.

How do you know I haven’t been in the desert with no canteen? You know nothing about my character or life’s journey. Sometimes helping someone is teaching them to do better. I have plenty sympathy for those on hard times. But I don’t feel sorry for someone who chose a Range Rover and Rolex when they could’ve bought a Ford Escape and Casio. 

To me all rich people aren’t greedy and selfish, anymore than all poor people are lazy. All rich people didn’t create their own riches. And all poor people didn’t get there by being exploited. It’s not an either/or thing to me. I’m happy to call out the greed and excess in our system. And equally happy to call out those who insists that others always owe them something or are the cause of their issues. There really is a middle ground on most issues, including this one. I’ll let you have the last word  

 

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@icanthearyou Let me tell you a story. It goes like this:

Once upon a time, a grasshopper and an ant lived in a field. All summer long, the grasshopper romped and played, while the ant worked hard under the boiling sun to store up food for the winter.

When winter came, the grasshopper was hungry. One cold and rainy day, he went to ask the ant for some food.

“What are you, crazy?” the ant said. “I’ve been breaking my back all summer long while you ran around hopping and laughing at me for missing all the fun in life.”

“Did I do that?” the grasshopper asked meekly.

“Yes! You said I was one of those old-fashioned clods who had missed the whole point of the modern self-realization philosophy.”

“Gee, I’m sorry about that,” the grasshopper said. “I didn’t realize you were so sensitive. But surely you are not going to hold that against me at a time like this.”

“Well, I don’t hold a grudge—but I do have a long memory.”

Just then another ant came along.

“Hi, Lefty,” the first ant said.

“Hi, George.”

“Lefty, do you know what this grasshopper wants me to do? He wants me to give him some of the food I worked for all summer, under the blazing sun.”

“I would have thought you would already have volunteered to share with him, without being asked,” Lefty said.

“What!!”

“When we have disparate shares in the bounty of nature, the least we can do is try to correct the inequity.”

“Nature’s bounty, my foot,” George said. “I had to tote this stuff uphill and cross a stream on a log—all the while looking out for ant-eaters. Why couldn’t this lazy bum gather his own food and store it?”

“Now, now, George,” Lefty soothed. “Nobody uses the word ‘bum’ anymore. We say ‘the homeless’.”

“I say ‘bum’. Anyone who is too lazy to put a roof over his head, who prefers to stand out in this cold rain to doing a little work—”

The grasshopper broke in: “I didn’t know it was going to rain like this. The weather forecast said ‘fair and warmer’.”

“Fair and warmer?” George sniffed. “That’s what the forecasters told Noah!”

Lefty looked pained. “I’m surprised at your callousness, George—your selfishness, your greed.”

“Have you gone crazy, Lefty?”

“No. On the contrary, I have become educated.”

“Sometimes that’s worse, these days.”

“Last summer, I followed a trail of cookie crumbs left by some students. It led to a classroom at Ivy University.”

“You’ve been to college? No wonder you come back here with all these big words and dumb ideas.”

“I disdain to answer that,” Lefty said. “Anyway, it was Professor Murky’s course on Social Justice. He explained how the world’s benefits are unequally distributed.”

“The world’s benefits?” George repeated. “The world didn’t carry this food uphill. The world didn’t cross the water on a log. The world isn’t going to be eaten by any ant-eater.”

“That’s the narrow way of looking at it,” Lefty said.

“If you’re so generous, why don’t you feed this grasshopper?”

“I will,” Lefty replied. Then, turning to the grasshopper, he said: “Follow me. I will take you to the government’s shelter, where there will be food and a dry place to sleep.”

George gasped. “You’re working for the government now?”

“I’m in public service,” Lefty said loftily. “I want to ‘make a difference’ in this world.”

“You really have been to college,” George said. “But if you’re such a friend of the grasshopper, why don’t you teach him how to work during the summer and save something for the winter?”

“We have no right to change his lifestyle and try to make him like us. That would be cultural imperialism.”

George was too stunned to answer.

Lefty not only won the argument, he continued to expand his program of shelters for grasshoppers. As word spread, grasshoppers came from miles around. Eventually, some of the younger ants decided to adopt the grasshopper lifestyle.

As the older generation of ants passed from the scene, more and more ants joined the grasshoppers, romping and playing in the fields. Finally, all the ants and all the grasshoppers spent all their time enjoying the carefree lifestyle and lived happily ever after—all summer long. Then the winter came…

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21 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

Perhaps,,, when you are the one in the desert without a canteen,,, you will understand.

Helping others should be our nature.  We have been so trained/conditioned to compete,,, that we have forgotten the benefits of cooperation. 

I am sorry you feel "judged".  No one is judging you.  Your feelings are understandable.

I would suggest your first task should be examining how much "welfare" in this country goes to those who do not need it versus,,, a real social safety net.

Have you offered to "help" this repairman? Yes or no? 

Surely you will write him a check, won't you?

Pull money out of your savings account if need be. 

Put up, or shut up. 

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19 hours ago, Gowebb11 said:

How do you know I haven’t been in the desert with no canteen? You know nothing about my character or life’s journey. Sometimes helping someone is teaching them to do better. I have plenty sympathy for those on hard times. But I don’t feel sorry for someone who chose a Range Rover and Rolex when they could’ve bought a Ford Escape and Casio. 

To me all rich people aren’t greedy and selfish, anymore than all poor people are lazy. All rich people didn’t create their own riches. And all poor people didn’t get there by being exploited. It’s not an either/or thing to me. I’m happy to call out the greed and excess in our system. And equally happy to call out those who insists that others always owe them something or are the cause of their issues. There really is a middle ground on most issues, including this one. I’ll let you have the last word  

 

So,,, explain why inequality is so extreme and,,, why it is accelerating?  You are okay with over five decades of almost no wage growth? 

Is it good?  Is it sustainable?  Does it promote capitalism?  Does it promote democracy?  Is the government for sale?

Yes, there is middle ground.  The key to good government is balancing the interests of capital/business with those of society (those truly are the only two political interests).  I am merely suggesting to you that our current environment is grotesquely out of balance. I offer you proof with historic inequality, no wage growth for decades, the rise of billionaires, the hollowing of the middle class, a country that spends more subsidizing the wealthy than the poor.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, NolaAuTiger said:

Have you offered to "help" this repairman? Yes or no? 

Surely you will write him a check, won't you?

Pull money out of your savings account if need be. 

Put up, or shut up. 

Great points but you’ll only receive a rambling dissertation on global level Macroeconomics as a reply. 

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1 hour ago, Gowebb11 said:

Great points but you’ll only receive a rambling dissertation on global level Macroeconomics as a reply. 

Really?  Is that the depth of thought you admire?

 

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5 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

Really?  Is that the depth of thought you admire?

 

Key word is ramble. Same tune and never a concrete solution. 
 

Ignored NOLA’s question didn’t you.

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21 hours ago, SaltyTiger said:

Key word is ramble. Same tune and never a concrete solution. 
 

Ignored NOLA’s question didn’t you.

Simply not true. 

The problem is defined.  It is simple.  There is no rant or ramble.  Grotesque inequality is anti capitalistic, anti democratic, unproductive, unsustainable, breeds civil unrest, drives up the need for and, cost of government.

I have offered many elements for a solution.  Primarily,,, stop selling government (restore democracy),,,  end all paid lobbying, extreme campaign finance reform, end the corrupt idea that money is speech.

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2 hours ago, icanthearyou said:

Simply not true. 

The problem is defined.  It is simple.  There is no rant or ramble.  Grotesque inequality is anti capitalistic, anti democratic, unproductive, unsustainable, breeds civil unrest, drives up the need for and, cost of government.

I have offered many elements for a solution.  Primarily,,, stop selling government (restore democracy),,,  end all paid lobbying, extreme campaign finance reform, end the corrupt idea that money is speech.

The people you continually facepalm and belittle are not selling government or supporting paid  lobbyists. 

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