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When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work

Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job.

Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.

States Review Laws Revoking Licenses For Student Loan Defaults

In 22 states, people who default on their student loans can have professional licenses suspended or revoked. The percentage of Americans who default on student loans has more than doubled since 2003.

Butch Dill/AP

Clementine Lindley says she had a great college experience, but if she had it to do over again, she probably wouldn't pick an expensive private school.

"I could actually buy a small home in Helena, Mont., with the amount of debt that I graduated with," she says.

How Not to Erase Student Debt

Even by government standards, it is a colossally dumb idea: revoking someone's license to work as a way to get them to pay off their student loans. Yet many states do just that.

Lawmakers: Change state law that bars Texans in default on student loans from renewing work licenses

State lawmakers, including some of the most conservative members of the Texas House, say changes should be made to a state statute that bars workers from renewing their professional licenses if they are in default on their student loans.

“This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.”
– Earl Wilson
"If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
– Irwin "Professor" Corey
The road to success is always under construction
– Lily Tomlin
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
– Marie Curie
"There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt."
– P. T. Barnum
"Bankruptcy laws allow companies to smoothly reorganize, but not college graduates burdened by student loans."
– Robert Reich
“What I would like to do... once I take care of all my kids' student loans, is buy a red 1965 Mustang and fully restore it.”
– Mike Quigley