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If you feel like you’re never going to get out by underneath your student loan debt, these a few things could help you make a game plan
USA TODAY

Eventually, he just couldn’t take the item anymore. The rejection, the depression, the mounting bills, the item became too much to deal with all on his own, Chad Albright said. 

“I had to escape This particular debtors’ prison,” he said — the item felt like there was no some other choice. “which’s what America became to me, a prison. So I left.”

Albright bought a one-way ticket to China along with also also boarded an airplane, uncertain if he could ever return to the country he once considered home.

the item was 2011, along with also also Albright was 30 years old, starting over in a country more than 7,000 miles away by his life in Pennsylvania — away by his family, his friends, along with also also far away by the $30,000 he owed in student loans.

Borrowing money for college seemed like a sound financial decision at the time. Albright thought his degree could reliably lead the way to a well-paying career. 

With tuition comes high debt. along with also also when delivering pizzas was the only job he could find two years post-graduation — with the country’s outstanding student debt rising above $1 trillion, along with also also one million people defaulting on student loans every year — the item didn’t seem like the item was worth the item after all.

Chad Albright graduated Millersville University in December 2007. (Photo: Submitted)

“I was supposed to make a $400 loan payment every month, however I had no money, no sustainable income,” Albright said during a Skype interview. “College ruined my life.”

In high school, he read books about the American dream, classics like “The Great Gatsby” along with also also “The Grapes of Wrath.” If he worked hard, the item could pay off — which’s what he was always told.

however, Albright said, he right now knows those were just stories.

“There was no future for me within the United States,” Albright said. “along with also also the American dream? Yeah, the item doesn’t exist.”

along with also also few places have higher student debt than Pennsylvania. Average debt per student within the commonwealth is usually $36,854, one of the highest within the country, compared to the national average of $28,650.

To get educated, most students go into debt. About two in three students who graduated in 2017 had student loan debt.

How did he get here?

Chad Albright left the United States to start a life free of debt. His student debt back in America crippled him with anxiety. (Photo: Submitted)

Growing up, the item was drilled into Albright’s head which college could lead to success. 

His father worked for the railroad, along with also also his mother was a beautician. They never attended college however believed if their son went he could have ample opportunities at his fingertips.

Albright began delivering pizzas right after high school to save money for his college tuition along with also also continued to work full time even after starting classes. He was 25 years old when he finally thought he earned enough money to enroll at Millersville University.  

the item wasn’t easy being the oldest student in his classes, Albright said. His classmates ostracized him along with also also the item was difficult balancing his course load along with also also a full-time job.

“I wanted which diploma, along with also also I was willing to work for the item,” Albright said. “Everyone always told me the item could be worth the item.”

So as costs began to add up — tuition, textbooks, rent — Albright felt justified in his decision to take out student loans.

however to his dismay, finding a job after graduation wouldn’t be so easy. His degree in public relations wasn’t opening up as many doors as he anticipated. 

More: How does Pennsylvania rank against the some other 49 states? Hint: the item’s not at the top.

More: Watch 12-year-old college student play piano, mother talk about math gift

Albright graduated in December 2007— right at the start of the economic crisis which could later become known as the Great Recession, the longest period of economic decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Millions of people lost their life savings, their jobs along with also also their homes. Not exactly an ideal time to be entering the job market, Albright said.

Interview after interview, Albright heard the same thing: “Sorry, there’s someone who’s been doing This particular for 10 years along with also also just lost their job. I have to go with someone who has 10 years’ experience.”

“however the last thing they could say to me,” Albright recalls, “‘Don’t worry, your day will come.’” 

Back to the pizza shop along with also also back to living with his parents in Lancaster, Albright fell into a deep depression. He was behind on his student loans along with also also still couldn’t find a job. Plus, he was worried which once he did find a job, the government could garnish his wages.

“Two years of nonstop interviews along with also also nothing,” Albright said. “I was so done.”

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Billionaire investor along with also also philanthropist Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off the student loan debt of the Morehouse 2019 graduates.
Morehouse College

‘My life was so much better once I left. Why could I ever go back?’

After being on the job hunt For just two years, Albright finally saw a glimmer of expect. While he was at the gym, he saw a woman on CNN talking about her job teaching English to children in Hong Kong.

“She said, ‘I have no desire to return back home,’” Albright recalled. “which’s when I began looking into teaching overseas.”

He told his parents about his idea, along with also also to his surprise, they supported the decision. They saw how much their son had been struggling, along with also also they wanted to see him happy, said his mother, Leslie Mullin.

“As a parent, you just want your child to be happy,” Mullin said. “So even though I was worried about him being so far away, I wasn’t going to stand in his way.”

Albright arrived in China in 2011 along with also also began teaching English within the city of Zhongshan. He loved working with children along with also also developed a knack for teaching, he said.

along with also also for once, he felt like he was doing something meaningful with his life.

He was only earning about $1,000 a month in China — not a large amount by most standards, Albright said — however his rent was covered through his job. along with also also since the cost of living in China is usually so much less than in Pennsylvania, Albright was able to enjoy his income.

He went out to eat with friends, traveled to some other cities: “Things I never got the chance to do in America because of my student debt,” Albright said. “My life was so much better once I left. Why could I ever go back?”

Albright did eventually go back to the United States, however just to visit his mother. along with also also after teaching in China for a few years, he moved to Ukraine, where he right now is usually a permanent resident, working in sales. He hasn’t checked his student loan account in nearly eight years, either.

“I hardly ever think about the item,” he said. 

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How much money could change your life?
Time

‘Just because you’re not within the U.S., doesn’t mean the loans disappear’

Leaving the country to avoid student loan payments is usually not exactly a practical solution, said expert Mark Kantrowitz, publisher along with also also vice president for research at Savingforcollege.com. There are ways to refinance loans, to get on income-based repayment plans — there are some other options.

“which seems drastic,” Kantrowitz said of leaving. “The way you deal with big figures is usually you take the item one step at a time. You will eventually pay back which debt, eventually you will reach a solution. Just because you’re not within the U.S. doesn’t mean the loans disappear. You’re definitely only digging yourself a bigger hole.”

More: Millennials face $1 trillion in debt, however here’s how they can manage their loans

Student loans can be a heavy burden to bear for many. They require extra effort to discharge in bankruptcy compared to some other debts like credit cards. The federal government may garnish a person’s wages, Social Security benefits or tax refund.

“Skipping out on an obligation will complicate life more,” Kantrowitz said. “Also, just think about everything you could miss out on.”

Albright understands which — he feels like he’s missed out on major milestones. Since he defaulted on his loan payments, his credit suffered, creating the item particularly difficult for him to invest in any “big purchases.”

“I’m 39 years old along with also also never even been able to buy a car,” Albright said.

Living alone, Albright’s come to the realization which he may never get married, start a family, or buy a house — a fact particularly frustrating for someone who always wanted children, he said. 

“I’m happy to be away by my debt, however I’m lonely most of the time,” Albright said. “I don’t definitely have some other options at This particular point, though.”

What can be done to address the problem?

While the item’s not particularly common, Albright isn’t the only person to have fled the country to avoid student loan payments. some other graduates have shared similar stories on Facebook groups along with also also Reddit channels, expressing distress or seeking advice by peers.

Rising student loan debt has Pennsylvania state Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York County, along with also also some other legislators worried. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the item’s creating a crisis in higher education.

“The student-loan program is usually not only burying students in debt,” DeVos said at a November conference, “the item is usually also burying taxpayers, along with also also the item’s stealing by future generations.”

With the exact resolution unknown, Keefer wonders if a possible fix lies just below the surface.

“I think the item’s a disservice to tell children which if you go to college, you’ll be successful,” Keefer said. “Maybe there is usually a better option, or maybe you just need to go to a trade school for what you want to do.”

Not all student debt is usually bad, Keefer said. College could be the best investment a person makes. 

however students need to be more strategic in picking majors which will lead to jobs which can pay back their loans, she said. They can also find ways to cut costs elsewhere — attending community college for the first few years or living at home.

“the item comes down to creating sure students are aware of their options along with also also being practical,” Keefer said.

If Albright could do things over again, he could have skipped the degree.

He could have taken a course online to learn about computer programming — “something like which, I guess.”

“I’ve accepted which This particular is usually my life right now,” Albright said. “College ruined my life to the fullest extent, along with also also my life is usually a constant reminder of which.”

After defaulting on his payments for the last nine years, along with also also with the amount of compound interest along with also also fees he’s racked up, the item became clear Albright won’t be returning to the United States anytime soon. 

So, for right now at least, he plans to continue the conversation.

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