Woman Shares How Her Mom Died Owing $80K On A $15K Student Loan

Hand holding burning money
Unsplash | Jp Valery

Being in debt is a common experience for anyone who's gone to school, bought a house, or simply tried to make ends meet.

American household debt currently sits at a collective $14.6 trillion and counting. About $1.7 trillion of that is student loan debt.

One woman shared a deeply personal story of student loan debt, and how it quietly spiraled out of control.

Student loan debt can feel impossible to pay back.

Signing paperwork
Unsplash | Scott Graham

College is expensive, and signing on for a loan when you're barely 18 can saddle you for decades to come. While there's been a push to forgive student debt, about 46 million Americans still have student loan debt.

A woman shared her story of student loan debt.

Michelle Miller kicked off a thread on student debt with a story about her mother, who passed away in December of 2020. Michelle believed the debt to be around $40,000 — no small amount.

They'd split the debt to send Michelle to college.

Michelle's mom, like many parents, did what she could to help get her child a better education. While Michelle was able to pay off her half, her mother couldn't do the same.

Her mom was in deep.

Perhaps owing to the debt that she couldn't pay, Michelle's mom was victimized by predatory loan sharks. This is, unfortunately, another common experience: taking on more debt in an effort to pay off the existing debt.

Things quickly went south.

Michelle's mom was in debt, but still holding down a job. That changed when her company started downsizing. Coupled with a sudden change in her health, the financial situation quickly turned dire for Michelle's poor mom.

The story gets sadder.

Michelle's mom was staring down the barrel of an austere retirement, in debt and barely able to make ends meet. While this future seems grim, in reality Michelle's mom would never experience it as she didn't have long to live.

They spent her final week talking about money.

Michelle's mom passed away in December of 2020 with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Right to the end, she refused to let Michelle help out by paying her outstanding bills.

It's a powerful story.

Michelle told this story because student debt has been in the news a lot lately. She bristles at the notion that this kind of debt is a problem that only elites have. While some upper-class people have debt, they're better equipped to pay it off. The working class simply isn't so lucky.

The loan papers showed the final bill.

In a follow-up tweet, Michelle noted that the loan was forgiven. This is good, of course, but it would have been considerably more helpful if the loan had been forgiven while Michelle's mom was still alive.

Do you have student debt?

Worried woman staring off into space with a hand on her neck
Unsplash | Adam NieĊ›cioruk

It seems unfair that signing loan paperwork before college can saddle you with enormous debt — oftentimes more money than you got in the initial loan.

What do you think of Michelle's story? Do you have experience with student debt? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.