Oswaldo Campos has over $20,000 in defaulted student loans. It isn't that he's irresponsible -- Oswaldo suffers from liver disease and can't work full time, making it hard to stay ahead of bills.
With student loan debt recently reaching $1 trillion, there are many other borrowers in situations similar to Oswaldo. Factors such as high debt values and a bad economy contribute to 27% of borrowers having an over-due balance.
According to federal laws, Oswaldo is eligible for a loan rehabilitation plan that would allow him to pay around $50 per month. However, an aggressive debt collector contracted through the U.S. Department of Education insists he pay $219 a month and has threatened to confiscate his paycheck if he doesn’t comply. Desperate to repay the loans, Oswaldo is borrowing money from friends, cutting back on groceries and isn’t buying gas to drive his sick mother to doctor’s visits.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debt payments. Additionally, federal aid laws are supposed to protect struggling individuals like Oswaldo by giving them a fair repayment plan reflective of their income level. Debt collectors violate the law if they fail to disclose those lower-cost options. However, it turns out that debt collectors get a commission for driving up monthly loan repayments. Unfortunately, this is becoming a big problem - the U.S. Department of Education has seen a significant rise in complaints about aggressive debt collectors over the last year.
Debt collectors shouldn't be profiting from the hardships of Oswaldo and people like him. The U.S. Department of Education should require debt collectors to automatically offer Oswaldo the minimum monthly payment required by law.