Forbes

According to Forbes, there are over 44 million student loan borrowers who owe more than $1.4 trillion dollars in debt. Yes, trillion. That sum is staggering, and for many the monthly minimums you're required to pay back on your loans is unmanageable. Over 1 million borrowers default on their student loan payments every year. By 2023 the U.S Department of Education estimates that around 40% of borrowers will go into default.

What happens when you default on your student loans?

Defaulting on your student loan payments means you haven't been able to make a single payment towards your debt for about a year. The debt for the total amount of minimum monthly payments you've missed gets sent to collections. Your credit takes a nosedive.

By the time your student loan goes into default, your credit score will have dropped at least 60 points. If you didn't start off with great credit in the first place, your rating after defaulting will likely be considered "very poor", making it harder to get a mortgage or qualify for decent interest rates. According to research from the Urban Institute, record high student loan debt is part of the reason millennials aren't buying homes.


Saving for a home mortage Shutter stock

When you go into default on your loans, some states will even go so far as to suspend your driver's licenses . And because of high interest rates, the total amount you owe in student loans after defaulting increases by about 10%. When you're already having trouble paying your monthly minimums, that increase can be devastating.

Is there a way to get rid of your student loans for good?

When you're unable to pay back other types of debts (your mortgage, a bank loan, etc) you're allowed to file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy on student loan debt however has historically been extremely difficult. It isn't impossible though.

In 2005, congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Under the exception, borrowers have to prove their student loans are causing them undue hardship in order to include the debt in bankruptcy filings. What qualifies as "undue hardships"? That's the problem. Congress didn't define the term and courts are left to interrupt it.

Adam Minsky, a lawyer who recently spoke to The Huffington Post, says you need to prove three different factors to the courts. You're unable to maintain a minimal standard of living, based on your current income and expenses, if you're forced to repay your loans. You have made decent efforts to try to repay your loans. Other factors out of your control, that may continue for a long time, are affecting your ability to pay.

Minsky claims, the most successful way of filing for bankruptcy on your student loan debt is to go the route of an adversary proceeding. This essentially means you're suing your student loan lenders for the amount that you owe. Adversary proceedings can be a long and expensive process, but if you can prove your student loans are unmanageable, you might just get rid of your student loans for good.

Borrowers who successfully sued and won were either unemployed, had a medical condition, or could prove their income had dropped from the last year. If you fall into any of these three categories you have a decent chance of winning. 40% of borrowers who file for bankruptcy and include their student loan debt get all or at least a portion of it removed.

Student loan repayment appShutterstock

If you don't want to file for bankruptcy but need help navigating your student loan payments, consider trying a loan repayment app. Apps like ChangED and The Student Loan Hero consolidate all federal and private student loans, and come up with a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible. You can even sync you bank accounts and credit cards to save the change on your purchases. ChangED deposits that change into the app and sends an automatic extra payment to your loans every time it reaches $100.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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