Student loans and repaying them are a current national conversation. Borrowers owe a total of $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt, and about $65 billion in private loans. The average student leaving school with a bachelor’s degree has over $28,000 in debt.

Secretary Sherry Todd wants to start paying off her $96,000 debt. She’d like a better paying career, but it’s been tough. 

“Workplaces look at credit histories and I’ve had to like, forbearance or deferment because I can’t afford to pay them all,” Todd said. 

Karyn Rando with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester, said $96,000 in debt can be fairly typical.

“They’re unable to make those payments because of the position they’re taking post-graduation,” says Rando. 

Robert Jacob, a Student Loan Counselor adds, “I think it’s definitely a bit of a crisis. Folks are more aware of the debt they’re leaving school with.”

As a student loan counselor, Robert Jacobs says the people he counsels do want to pay their debt off and have an affordable living, yet are unsure of the best methods.  Todd anticipates her loan payments every month will be $600 for over 13 years. And the banks don’t want to wait. 

“Because they try to get your tax returns,” Todd said. 

Something Mike Shockency, a drywall worker, already deals with via his federal loan. His tax returns are scooped up every year.

 “And then I found out the company that intercepted (my refund) was the federal government for my student loans,” Shockency said. ​​​

Jacobs says this practice is commonplace. Shockency is about $20,000 in debt for an unfinished degree. And he’s found out there are additional charges, not the interest, attached to that amount. 

“Basically, the collection agency is just throwing an extra $3,000 on there and saying I owe $23,000 for student loans,” Shockency said. 

That charge is called a collection agency fee. That happens when you do not enter a repayment agreement, default, and your loans are sent by the government to a private agency. 

“There is a fee that is tacked on to that agency as a reward for collecting the debt,” Jacobs said. 

For those in debt large or small, there are steps to take to start paying down the debt. Rando said to become aware and reach out. Help is there. 

“So at that point, that would be a great time to contact us because we might have a lot more options available,” Rando said. 

Because your loan debts aren’t going to disappear on their own.  

“Student loans will follow you until the day that you’re no longer here,” Jacobs said.