Student Loan Trap: A decision that could 'ruin your life'

OYSTER BAY - An Oyster Bay man who took out student loans more than 15 years ago says not only is he still paying them back, but they have ruined his life.

John Koch says he originally borrowed $69,000 back in 1996 to attend college and become a lawyer. However, after failing the bar exam three times, Koch gave up on his dream and the reality of his student loan debt started to sink in.

Koch says despite taking other jobs, the payments made it impossible for him to pay other bills. Then, while between jobs Koch defaulted on his loans, triggering a huge default penalty that added somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000 to the balance.

Koch is now enrolled in a federal plan that allows him to defer loan payments based on his limited income. However, it also adds $2,000 of extra interest to his balance every month. He says he now owes around $304,000.

If you'd like more information on student loans and new ways to repay them, check out Amy Lauren's blog.

For an extended interview with a debt reform advocate, go to Channel 612 on your iO Digital Cable Box and select iO Extra.

Learn about student loansLearn about Federal loans and the benefits of consolidationNew repayment programs that allow you to pay according to your income and include loan forgivenessAlternative ways to fund college without relying solely on loansLearn about the difference between State and Private Colleges

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