Photo: Poprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

To Avoid Paying Student Loans, Many Borrowers Are Fleeing the United States

by Eben Diskin Jun 3, 2019

There are many different ways to deal with your student loans: refinance, save up for years, or — apparently — flee the country. According to a CNBC report, several student loan borrowers have left the US to avoid paying their loans. The US government can garnish wages and tax refunds for borrowers working in the US, but not for those working abroad, which is where this clever loophole comes in. But while you can disappear from the country, your debt will not disappear, and will actually increase with compound interest and late fees. That hasn’t stopped people from fleeing their financial woes, however, for a short while at least.

One borrower, Chad Haag, decided to remedy his student loan situation by relocating to a jungle in India. “I’ve put America behind me,” the 29-year-old told CNBC. He currently lives in the village of Uchakkada for $50 a month, with a backyard filled with trees and chickens. When asked whether his loans still weigh on his mind, he said, “It’s kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?”

Another borrower, Chad Albright, was unable to find a job in his chosen field, and couldn’t afford to pay his $30,000 of student loan debt. His solution? Move to the Chinese city of Zhongshan, and then later to the Ukraine, where he now teaches English. “I am much happier in Ukraine,” he said, and has no plans to return to the US or check his student loan account.

Student loan debt in the US is astronomical, having tripled over the last decade. The average student’s graduation debt is currently around $30,000, and is projected to reach a nationwide total of $2 trillion by 2022, according to CNBC.

While fleeing the country might not be the smartest long-term solution for many borrowers, it certainly underscores the issue of rising student loan debt. Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice, said, “Any rational person who learns that people are fleeing the country as a result of their student loan debt will conclude that something has gone horribly awry with this lending system.”


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