I would dream up all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes.I’d win the lottery or write the next blockbuster YA novel.I only had myself to blame for getting into this mess. The woman also told me that all of this information was available online at the National Student Loan Data System of Students where borrowers can view all of their federal debt and get information regarding which agencies currently hold that debt.Before I had a chance to change my mind, I called up the first collection agency on the list. I explained why I was calling to the operator, who passed me on to the correct department.I didn’t even have the money to start paying 0 a month, so what was the point? Continuing on in default seemed like the only option for me. I started screening my incoming calls and would only answer when I knew who the caller was. I started working at a better restaurant and even with a 25 percent increase in the tips I made, I didn’t view the extra money I earned as money that could go towards paying off my student loans.For the first time in my adult life, I felt more or less financially comfortable, and I wasn’t willing to go back to scrimping and saving.This seemed like a win-win situation, as long as I didn’t worry too much about my credit score.I still had no idea how much exactly I owed, or to whom, but since all of my loans were federal loans, I figured the money would eventually make it to the right people and everything would be paid off in five or six years at most.
After all, I’d been ignoring my loans for so long and there hadn’t been any negative consequences so far. Sometimes, I started to feel panicked about my loan situation.For some reason, I didn’t view wage garnishment as a big deal.I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to remember to pay my loans every month; the government was basically doing all of the work for me.Setting up the rehabilitation plan would be too time-consuming. Wouldn’t it be easier to just go on in default for years until it’s paid off, even if I have to live a hand-to-mouth existence until then? However, after two years of wage garnishment and generally avoiding the reality that I did, in fact, owe a substantial amount of money to the government, I decided to get my act together: No more stupid excuses. I went to Washington Square Park on a sunny afternoon, mentally preparing myself. Even though almost ,000 had been withheld from my salary during the last two years, the interest and collection costs that had accrued over the eight years I was either in deferment or default had caused the size of my debt to increase by almost 50 percent.Would I have to call up all three collection agencies and negotiate a new deal with each one? I was going to take responsibility for my poor financial decisions and get out of default. But, it was a massive relief to finally, finally know where I stood.