THE BLOG
12/13/2013 11:37 am ET | Updated Feb 12, 2014

College Cramps and Massive Student Loans

Huffington Post Reader Question

Dear Steve,

I originally took out a myriad of loans to cobble together the finances necessary to supplement a "scholarship" the University of South Carolina gave me.

I put scholarship in quotations because the actual scope of what was promised outwardly was simply never put in to practice, once the fine print kicked in. I enrolled under the impression, so long as I kept a 3.0 GPA, the Henry Mckissick scholarship would award me $35,000. Needless to say, for multiple reasons, this turned out not to be the case.

So the loan process began. With no credit history, and no credit worthy co-signers, the predatory lending was very appealing to a younger me searching for a better life. Subsequently, I accepted a large amount of both private and federal student loans, and it actually went quite well for a while.

Beginning my junior year, I began to have some health problems. I regularly would go to the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center, but that year I began to have these debilitating full body muscle contractions that would last for hours. I'd literally be incapacitated until the cramps and spasms would cease, and, by the end, my muscles were so shot, I couldn't really move afterwards.

I was insured through the University, so, following their protocol, I went to their "Doctors", and the Doc recommended I travel home (I was an out of state student) and see my Primary Care Physician. I did as he asked.

That started a series of visits to my doctor, as well as some specialist (neurologists and the like) to determine to root of my problem. It was determined I had an enzyme deficiency to where my body doesn't break down glucose the way that it should. That's all fine and well, but here's the rub, USC had an interestingly strict attendance policy.

You were only granted 5 absences, no matter what. Here I was, thinking, logically, I have a clear medical excuse based on your Doctor's advice, so clearly some of my absences would be excused, right? WRONG!

I was failed for an entire semester based solely on attendance. My GPA dropped from a 3.6 to a 2.91 (just outside of the 3.0 I needed to maintain). I lost the small aid granted by the McKissick scholarship, and I needed to make up the difference.

I tried to get more loans, but, ironically, because of my previous loans, I wasn't able to garner what I needed to attend. As a last gasp I attempted to appeal the decision to fail me based on attendance, and I offered pure medical documentation to back my case.

At a hearing, I wasn't even allowed to attend, the University upheld the decision, and I was left with a mountain of debt, and no degree to show for it. Not only did I not get the piece of paper necessary to secure my only shot at EVER being able to pay back what I I've been left owing, but, because I chose the school route, I missed out on valuable years of work experience.

Now I don't qualify for anything with a real salary, and I still have a ridiculous amount of outstanding student debt.

Do you know of any lawyers that are willing to attempt a bankruptcy case like mine, and, if so, could you provide me with their information. Thank you. Your help is greatly appreciated.

De'Jon

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Dear De'Jon,

In trying to think of the right words all I keep hearing in my head is, "that really sucks." I'm so sorry you had that experience. But at least it sounds like you are doing much better medically and the root cause of the problem was uncovered and treated. I can't even begin to imagine how draining and painful the hours of cramps were.

The first stop on working towards a solution should be to read The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Student Loans You Can't Afford. That guide will help show you the options available to first deal with the federal loans. There are good options there.

The private loans are really the bigger issue because private student loan lenders are not required to do a thing to help you out.

But there may be some real help available through bankruptcy for the private loans. You should read this article on how and why private student loans do get discharged in bankruptcy.

I agree that finding the right bankruptcy attorney is going to be key here. Those guides will help point you in the right direction but you still might need to interview several bankruptcy attorneys in your area to look for the right one to help you.

Finding an experienced bankruptcy attorney who is skilled in handling student loans, is admittedly a tough task. Through this bankruptcy attorney directory I've been working to try and add more attorneys with this type of experience.

Even if your private student loans are not fully discharged in bankruptcy, they could still be substantially reduced. There is hope.

But it is also going to come down to a look at your level of student loan debt and your potential earning power. If you owe way more than you will ever logically be able to repay then it gives you a better shot at legally eliminating some or all of the debt.

Steve

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