Please circulate to any or everyone you know who may be burried underneath a pile of debt in a really bad job market. Unless Congress can agree on an economic recovery plan soon, we will all be in big trouble. I urge you to contact your Senators and compel them to take action before it is too late.
# 9271: Feb 10, 2009, Elyssa Durant, Tennessee
I am 36 years old. My spinal cord is damaged from years of delayed, sub-standard medical treatment. I owe the federal government $179,982.00 in student loans. When I am able to work, I make $10.46/hour as a substitute teacher in an urban school district. That job comes with no security and no benefits. It does however offer the flexibility I need to receive the bi-monthly epidural injections and other procedures necessary to manage my pain and alleviate the numbness I feel because of the damage to my nerves. I have an advanced masters degree from an Ivy League Institution. I am 9 credits shy of a Ph.D. in public policy. Despite having maintained a 3.83 grade point average while earning my masters, and just over 3.2 during the three years I was enrolled full time in a doctoral program. The graduate school I will not grant me any leniency by extending the amount or time permitted to complete my degree-- or allow me to transfer those credits towards another program at the same institution. Vanderbilt will not even transfer any of the credits I paid for (in spades) towards another degree at the same university since they no longer have the program I was initially enrolled in. I think it goes without saying that I do not have the financial resources available to finish my last semester, take the GREs over again, or pay the associated application fees necessary to make the time spent there worth while. Throughout the three year process of filing appeal after appeal after appeal, I acquired well over 1/4 million dollars in debt due to uninsured medical expenses and student loans. My life will never be the same. My heart will never be the same. So after all this-- now I face losing my healthcare once again. Where is the safety net? Where is the American Dream that I so diligently chased after for so many years? What was the point spending so much on an education that will never be utilized? I understand the how; I just don't understand why. Maybe one of these days Vanderbilt University and the Department of Education will realize it might just be cheaper to hire me that harass me, because unless I find a real paying job soon, their collections department will no longer be able to reach me on that extravagant lifeline my friend, Mr. Brian Lapps, refers to as a luxury.
Elyssa Durant, Ed.M. Nashville, Tennessee (former doctoral student in public policy)
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