Not Paying Your Student Loan Debt Could Now Land You In Jail, U.S. Marshals Arrest Man Who Failed To Pay Up

Val Powell

Seven U.S. Marshals armed with automatic weapons appeared at Paul Aker's home in Houston, Texas, last week and arrested him for not paying his $1,500 student loan debt, which he received in 1987.

Aker said he was surprised upon seeing the U.S. Marshals at his home. "It was totally mind-boggling," the man said. "I was wondering, why are you here? I am home, I haven't done anything... Why are the marshals knocking on my door? It's amazing."

He told the Daily News on Tuesday that the men grabbed him and threw him down while the local PD just stood there.

— Esquire Magazine (@esquire) February 16, 2016

He said he spotted a suspicious truck parked outside of his house on Thursday morning, and when an agent approached him, he retreated back into his house in fear. Soon after, seven armed U.S. Marshals appeared at his door.

The U.S. Marshals later told the court they were armed because Aker had a gun. According to Aker's story, he was put in a cell at the federal building in downtown Houston. Afterwards, he was brought to court, where a county clerk, judge, and a prosecutor – who, according to him was actually a collection lawyer – were in attendance.

Aker was reportedly asked to pay a sum of $5,700 for the student loan debt, including interest, and another $1,300 to pay for the morning arrest. He was allegedly told that he will be arrested again if he fails to pay the said amount by March 1.

Texas representative Gene Green was worried that U.S. Marshals are being used to collect old student loans. "There's bound to be a better way to collect on a student loan debt that is so old," he told Fox 26.

However, according to the U.S. Marshals who arrested Aker, they did not arrest him for failing to pay his outstanding student loan debt alone, but for disobeying a court order as well.

According to Yahoo Finance and documents from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Aker was sued by the federal government for nonpayment of over $2,600 in unpaid student loan debt in November 2007. The court record suggests that Aker failed to appear in court to answer the lawsuit, and the presiding judge ruled against him and decided that he must pay the full balance on April 17, 2007.

— Brian Cuban (@bcuban) February 17, 2016

Describing the arrest, the Marshals said Aker "resisted arrest and retreated back into his home" when the agents approached him. According to them, Aker told them that he was armed, so the agents requested additional law enforcement assistance.

According to Yahoo Finance, Aker was immediately released and was not jailed.

The U.S. Marshals are reportedly planning to issue warrants on 1,000 to 1,500 people for student loan debts.

— Complex (@ComplexMag) February 16, 2016

Meanwhile, students and graduates are organizing a series of meetings on the Capitol calling for immediate action over rising student debt. Several for-profit colleges will gather on Wednesday in a protest that aims to fight student debt.

[Image by David McNew, Getty Images]