Student loan debt in the United States is rapidly approaching $1 trillion. Five million Americans are delinquent on their student loans.
One of them is David Gunzel, a Carbondale foot doctor. Dr. Gunzel owed up to $363,000 before the federal government sued him to collect on the debt that was insured by the U.S. government. The records in his case show the private student loan company sued to collect his debt in 2004. The federal government filed suit 4 years later after taking over the debt. In 2010, a federal judge issued an order garnishing Gunzel's wages.
But he's not alone. The amount of delinquent student loans now total more than $67 million. Economists say the massive debt facing many families forces them to cut back in other areas. Ron Gallucci, a recent graduate from Webster University, says he's delaying his marriage and many purchases so he can honor his agreement to pay off his student loans.
Dr. Gunzel appears to have used every legal step available to delay his repayments, including arguments that he didn't make enough money. Now, unlike Gallucci, Gunzel has no choice. He must pay every two weeks.
Initially, Dr. Gunzel insisted it was really a settlement, but of course it wasn't. United States Attorney Steven Wigginton says Gunzel can "settle" the case by writing a check for $314,000 to the Unitede States of America. Clearly, Gunzel won't be doing that, though he insisted he'll be able to pay off the debt during the next 5 or 6 years. If he doesn't keep that promise, Wigginton knows how long it will take Gunzel to clear his debt at the current rate of payment.
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