‘Like a debtors’ prison’: American who fled to CHINA from $30k in student loans
Chad Albright completed his degree in public relations at Millersville University, a mid-sized public college in Pennsylvania, at the end of 2007. The timing couldn’t have been worse: saddled with $30,000 in student debt, Albright entered the job market just as an unprecedented mortgage crisis sent the American economy spiraling into recession.
With few job prospects, Albright said his options were limited.
“There’s all these people graduating and there’s not enough jobs available,” aside from low-paying work in the service sector, Albright told RT. “It’s not enough to pay back your student loans that your government demands you start paying back within six months of graduating.”
It’s kind of like being in a debtor’s prison.
It wouldn’t be long before the calls started; creditors rang Albright’s phone off the hook looking to collect, but he said he had nothing to give them.Also on rt.com 'Deaths of despair' soaring among Gen Z & millennials: 'It's the economy, stupid'
“There was just no way I could pay these loans back,” he said. The creditors “were well aware that we were in a recession, they didn’t care. The Department of Education just keeps calling you, and calling you, and calling you. I got tired of it.”
Albright is far from alone. Some 44 million Americans owe a combined $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, Forbes reported in February; the total is expected to soar to $2 trillion by 2022. On average, each borrower owes about $30,000, while over 2 million students owe more than $100,000.
Unlike other financial obligations, such as mortgage and credit card debt, student loans are not dischargeable through bankruptcy under normal circumstances. A law passed in 1998 requires debtors to prove “undue hardship” in order to receive a discharge.Also on rt.com Till debt do us part: Tuition loan burden is literally killing US college grads
After years of fruitless job interviews, Albright gave up in 2011. He booked a one-way ticket to China, some 7,000 miles away from his home, looking to escape his towering debt and start over.
No national database currently tracks the number of students who have fled the country due to their debt burden, but several other high profile cases have appeared in news reports.
It wasn’t difficult to find work once he arrived, he said, as teaching English has become a “booming business” in the country. After two years of teaching in Asia, Albright decided to settle in Ukraine, where he says he found even more employment opportunities.
While the expat has no plans to return to the United States anytime soon, he said he still wants to see the student loans system fixed, and hopes his case will spur discussion in his home country.
“I want this to get the attention of my congressional and Senate leaders,” Albright said. “This is a huge issue, and it seems our government would rather go to war with Iran than fix a serious issue that’s affecting 50 million Americans. That’s what disgusts me.”
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