She said that until she pays down her loans, other spending will remain difficult.
"My husband and I try to live within our means by sharing a car, working full time and not spending money on frivolous things," she said. "But my credit is shot, and any hope I ever had of owning a home, making a major purchase with credit, or going back to school is all gone."
Last week, she said she received some good news. A lender on a $19,000 loan has agreed to reduce her interest rate from about 10 percent to 0.02 percent.
She and her mother reached out to Durbin and in August spoke at a news conference held by the senator, who in January reintroduced legislation dealing with student loans.
The Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013 would treat privately issued loans in bankruptcy the same as other types of private debt. The Know Before You Owe Act of 2013 would require schools to counsel students before they take on private student loan debt.
Uribe's mother, Marilyn DeVries, said that she too has had setbacks during the recession, getting laid off and then landing a job that paid a third of what she had made. She said she and her husband, who had health problems, had to empty their 401(k) to keep up their mortgage payments. Last year, they sold some property at a loss to pay taxes.
"I know my husband and I will be working well into our retirement years," she said. "Don't co-sign and don't let your kids take out these loans."
The balance of loans that are in deferred status represented $388 billion of $893 billion in student debt outstanding, TransUnion said. That's up from $228 billion in 2007.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated last October that student debt now surpasses $1 trillion, but, in November, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, long a source on student loan data, said outstanding student loan balances were $956 billion as of Sept. 30.
TransUnion's finding that about half of student loan payments are being deferred is consistent with findings from the New York Fed.
Elevent percent of student loan balances are 90 or more days delinquent, the New York Fed estimates. That's higher than most other credit products, including mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards and auto loans.
"These delinquency rates for student loans are likely to understate actual delinquency rates because almost half of these loans are currently in deferment or in grace periods and therefore temporarily not" considered delinquent, the New York Fed said in November. That implies that delinquency rates would be twice as high, the Fed said.
TransUnion estimates the delinquency rates for federal loans were 12.3 percent as of March and 5.3 percent for private loans.
WHAT ARE DEFERMENT AND FORBEARANCE?
A deferment is a temporary pause to student loan payments for specific situations, such as re-enrollment in school. A borrower may receive a deferment on federal student loans for certain periods.
The U.S. Department of Education has published a list of qualifications for a deferment.
They include unemployment or inability to find full-time employment; economic hardship, including joining the Peace Corps; and active-duty military service.
Borrowers don't have to pay interest during deferment if he or she has a subsidized loan.
For subsidized federal student loans, the Education Department pays the interest on a loan while a student is in school and during deferment. Subsidized loans are given to students who demonstrate financial need.
If a borrower has an unsubsidized loan, he or she is responsible for the interest during deferment. If the interest is not paid, it will accumulate and be added to the loan balance, and the amount in the future will be higher.
A borrower must apply for a deferment with a loan servicer, and he or she must continue to make payments until deferment is granted.
Private student loans may or may not have a deferment option, and the rules vary among lenders. Contact a loan servicer to explore this option.
If a borrower can't make scheduled loan payments and doesn't qualify for a deferment, a loan servicer may grant a forbearance. With forbearance, a borrower may be able to stop making payments or reduce the monthly payment for up to a year. Interest will continue to accrue on subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
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