"If you leave them so thoroughly in debt even after bankruptcy that they can't get back on their feet and they are driven into the underground cash economy and not into the career they trained for, the taxpayers don't get anything."
Andrew Davis, Chief Executive Officer of The Illinois Student Assistance Corporation told The Chicago Sun-Times in May.
One of the reasons our debt-based college aid system puts up barriers to college access is that student loans are treated differently under the law than any other unsecured debt.
In the case of a defaulted student loan, student-loan guarantee agencies can garnish your wages without even taking you to court, and the government can seize tax refunds, federal disaster relief payments, and Social Security retirement and disability benefits without a court order.
The big gun in the student lender's collection arsenal is the bankruptcy exemption. Since 1998 federal student loans have been not been dischargeable in bankruptcy except in extremely rare circumstances of "undue hardship," determined at the discretion of a judge.