Being arrested for student loan debt is the thing of nightmares. However, the nightmare became a reality for Paul Aker last week. According to reports, the Houston, Texas, resident was arrested by the United States Marshals Service and taken directly to federal court. The incident was specifically disturbing, as the original loan was only $1,500.
Aker was released after signing a payment agreement. However, the entire episode was terribly frightening.
The New York Daily News reports U.S. Marshals descended on the Houston man’s home without prior notice. Aker said he was stunned, as the seven deputies were wearing combat gear and carrying guns.
— Esquire Magazine (@esquire) February 16, 2016
When the men approached the front door, Aker asked one of the deputies what was going on. The deputy simply responded: “shut up, you know what this is all about.”
Aker claims the men grabbed him and threw him to the ground before placing him in the back of a transport truck. Only later did he learn he was accused of ignoring a 30-year-old debt.
During his federal hearing, Aker was told his $1,500 grew to $5,700 due to 30 years worth of interest. He was also billed nearly $1,300 for his arrest. Although he was allowed to sign a payment agreement for the outstanding debt, Aker is facing another arrest if he misses a scheduled payment.
Aker admittedly received a federal student loan in 1987, while attending Prairie View A&M University. However, he contends he was unaware the debt remained unpaid.
Sources confirmed it was not the U. S. Marshals’ first student loan arrest — and it will not be the last. According to reports, deputies will serve up to 1,500 warrants to people with outstanding student loan debt before January, 2017.
U.S. Representative Gene Green said the government was forced to hire private debt-collection companies due to the sheer number of unpaid student loans. Fox 26 reports many of those companies are taking the cases to federal court, where judges are approving student loan arrests.
Although he admits outstanding student loan debt is a serious issue, Green said “there’s bound to be a better way to collect…”
Indeed, student loan debt is a problem that plagues many college graduates. Wall Street Journal reports recent graduates, who earned a four-year degree, owe an average of $35,000 in student loans. However, experts believe the potential benefits of having a degree outweigh the amount of debt the average student will inevitably owe.
— LawNewz (@law_newz) February 16, 2016
In 2015, the average college graduate earned around $1,200 per week. Without a college degree, the average worker earns less than $700 per week.
Studies also suggest college graduates have lower unemployment rates. In 2015, the unemployment rate for those with college degrees was just over two percent. In stark contrast, the unemployment rate for workers without a college education was nearly nine percent.
Although a college education may increase opportunities, the associated debt remains a serious problem. In some cases, the prospect of tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt is a deterrent for attending college. For those who do attend college, and incur student loan debt, the monthly payments can be a terrible burden.
The current default rate on federal student loans is around 11 percent. Unlike conventional loans, student loans cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. As the loans are provided by the government, those who default are in danger of having their disability payments, tax refunds, and wages garnished without the requirement of a court order.
Although it is rare, borrowers who are in default may also face arrest. Paul Aker’s student loan arrest underlines how far the government is willing to go to collect on outstanding student loan debt.
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