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At 69, she’s still paying off $12,000 of student debt — including out of her Social Security checks. It isn’t just a millennial problem.

  October 23, 2019 | By Shannon Najmabadi, The Texas Tribune

If 69-year-old Lynda Sue Costley wants to shower, she has to go to a friend’s house. Her trailer, on a gravelly road outside Amarillo, hasn’t had running water since 2014 — when her husband died from cancer. She spent the little savings she had on his medical care, she said, and hasn’t repaired the burst pipe.

Costley works part time at a food bank, making $7.25 an hour, and said she stretches every dollar she has. But every month, she receives a letter in the mail saying the federal government is withholding $134 from her Social Security checks — the equivalent of 18 hours of work.

Like death and taxes, Costley may be facing another certainty in life: her student loans.

Although she attended college decades ago and made payments when she could, Costley’s debt has gone into default, swollen with accrued interest and been turned over to a collection company. She’s had her wages garnished and her income tax refunds withheld. Nearing 70, she still owes nearly $12,000 for classes she attended in the 1980s and 1990s — and her balance continues to be padded by interest and the debt collector’s costs.

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