The exorbitant price of college is creating a culture of massive student loans for young Americans.
But a few members of the late-twenties-early-thirties crowd have figured out a clever, if extreme, workaround: moving overseas to dodge their debts.
That’s right. These students book a one-way ticket to Europe and simply tell their their five- and six-figure debts, “Bye, Felicia.”
Vice’s Alexander Coggin reports on four such debt dodgers he met in his “adopted city” of Berlin.
Sounds crazy, right?
Turns out, the plan is actually fairly fool-proof. Loan companies have few tools to collect payments once you’re across the pond, no longer paying U.S. taxes.
That’s especially beneficial in the case of student loans, whose delinquency consequences include such nasties as wage garnishment and tax refund withholding.
Debt Dodgers Flee to Europe
Maybe this is a smart method of evasion, but is it justified?
One of the students Coggin interviews, “Brian” (all names in the article have been changed), says he feels it’s “some sort of civic duty not to pay them back.”
He says his education’s cost was too high in the first place and it should’ve been provided to him.
Other interviewees seem less entitled, citing a sense of shame and fear for their actions’ consequences — especially if their stateside parents cosigned.
“The only reason I’ve ever worried about the debt from the private lenders is because it affects my parents,” says Vanessa.
Another student, Mario, says his parents signed their home over to his sister. They feared it’d be taken from them as he defaulted on his loans overseas.
Even the best loopholes have consequences.
Although the plan is fool-proof for the primary debt holder, cosigners back home are still on the hook.
Plus, it’s a little bit like The Lion King: If you run away, you may never return. If you do, those collectors will be waiting.
“Debt collectors haven’t badgered me in Berlin… but when I go home, my phone rings non-stop. It rings like every hour,” Vanessa confessed.
All of this says nothing, of course, about whether or not it’s wrong to essentially steal your student loan money — even if it’s from a giant corporation supporting an inflated industry.
Not Quite Ready to Catch a Flight?
If this particular method of dealing with student loans doesn’t seem quite right to you, you have other options.
You could even consider taking an apprenticeship, instead of paying for college.
Of course, if you’ve already taken out student loans, don’t forget that it is possible to repay them if you make a plan — and stick with it.
Your Turn: Would you move overseas to avoid paying your student loans, or do you think these ex-students are wrong?
Jamie Cattanach is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes other stuff, like wine reviews and poems — you can read along at www.jamiecattanach.com.