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Attorney Christine Kingston Talks With Katherine On “This Needs To Be Said” About Student Loans And What You Need To Know.

Categories: Interview, Student Loans

Katherine:

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on, “This Needs To Be Said,” Our friend, attorney Christine Kingston is coming in. Also, the knowledge she’s been sharing with us, she is getting ready to give us a gift. She’s putting together a book and she’s going to talk with us about it here first. So welcome back to the show, Attorney Kingston. Christine, how are you?

Christine K.:

Katherine, I’m doing fine. Thank you. So great to be back with you again and share something that’s about to come out.

Katherine:

Yes, I’m excited about it. My first question to you is what is this book about?

Christine K.:

Well, first of all and foremost, it is going to be all things related to helping those $1.5 trillion of student loan debt borrowers out there in America right now.

Katherine:

Ouch.

Christine K.:

That’s going to give them some peace of mind and some guidance and some direction on how to deal with it and hopefully, we can all come together and really make a difference and either tackle them or eliminate them in bankruptcy or figure out some way to pay them back.

Katherine:

Now, I do have to ask this question because you’re going to write a book. The book is probably going to reach all the way over to the East coast where I talk to you from. I know that you are in California, Surf City Lawyers, but how will your book help me on the East coast or anywhere USA?

Christine K.:

Absolutely. Yeah. Because I’m only licensed in California, I cannot be retained all over the country to help people deal with or eliminate their student loans. For those people that can’t hire me personally, this book is going to give them all of the information that I share with prospective clients every single day. Let’s sort the herd; do we have a federal loan or a private loan? Once we figure that out, then we’ll give them some guidance. Let’s tackle those federal loans and get them under control. There are things that borrowers can do right now to remain in good standing on their student loans and to work out a myriad of different types of payment plans on those federal student loans. That information is out there free to the public right now, but the federal government doesn’t market that and will not tell you that. The loan servicers are not paid to educate America.

Katherine:

That’s a big ouch.

Christine K.:

Right? So consumer advocates like myself need to step up and make sure that that information gets out to the public.

Katherine:

Mm-hmm. Tell me what kinds of things are going to be covered in this book? I hear student loans. I have student loans, mine are in deferment, so I’m okay right now, but when I read your book, what is something I can find in the book other than what I’m already doing on my own haphazardly? Like please don’t take all my money.

Christine K.:

Yeah, well deferment is bad. It’s not as bad as default, but it still is not going to get you anywhere as far as bringing that-

Katherine:

Right.

Christine K.:

… principal down or somewhere coming to an end of this line, because over the years, first of all, I’m going to put in a little bit of historical perspective. This whole program started to come down from 1978 all the way up until now. Creditors have been slowly removing rights and removing the- Bankruptcy used to include student loans by the way. Okay? Back before 1998-

Katherine:

They did?

Christine K.:

Yes, they used to be included. Yeah. Isn’t that crazy?

Katherine:

Yeah.

Christine K.:

By the way, Katherine, you could go to Vegas and gamble away $150,000, just eat it away and be stupid and you could discharge that gambling debt in a bankruptcy case. But Lord willing, you want to go take a better future, get an education and that doesn’t work out, you can’t discharge that obligation in a bankruptcy case.

Katherine:

I wish you could see my face right now.

Christine K.:

I know, right? Your job’s on the floor.

Katherine:

Wow.

Christine K.:

It’s just ridiculous. How has gambling so much better for someone than getting an education and getting hosed over from an institution that actually doesn’t educate them, takes the money from the federal government putting the taxpayers on the hook for it. There’s no guarantee of a quality education in America. There’s only a guarantee that you’re going to walk out with some debt.

Katherine:

When you began talking with me… I hear you. I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m glad that you’re but you always are. The energy’s always good. So if bankruptcy has always, well I’ll say always… If bankruptcy started out as part of… Explain this to me again because I’m baffled because when you started talking to me about including the student loans in bankruptcy, to me it sounded like it was something new, groundbreaking. Now you’re telling me no, no, no. We’ve been here before. It has existed as something that you could discharge in bankruptcy. Is that what I’m understanding? Talk to me.

Christine K.:

That’s correct. Back before 1978, student loans were included in a bankruptcy discharge and then they basically accepted it from discharge unless they had five years repayment. Then after that in 1990, they made it seven years suffering before you can include it. Then in 1990… Every few years, they’d been eaten away at this. In 2005, is when they actually made private student loans not dischargeable. Now everybody’s in the game and if you look at the increase in tuition over the years, right? We’re looking at a 213% increase in the cost of education and you look at that timeline and how the price goes up and you look at this timeline of all the law changes, you’ll see what happened and then you can start to see who did it. It’s the lenders and the creditors, it’s the universities and all of those parties wanting to keep America on the hook for all of this debt. If everything goes wrong, taxpayers foot the bill. If everything goes right, these borrowers in debt for the rest of their lives and maybe not even able to pay it all back.

Katherine:

Can I ask a question? I feel like I’m in class right now, I’ve got my hand up. What would it be like if you charged an amount that people could afford and they actually could pay? Would you not still make money? Lenders, creditors? If it was a fee that people would actually pay, you give me $1,000 to go to school to get this education because that’s probably what it’s about. So you loan me $1,000, I may have to pay you back twice as much, but $2,000 is something that people could pay back. I throw that number out there, people. I haven’t done research, I’m speculating. If you gave me a fee that I could afford, would not everybody just pay their bill and the business would keep going and people would keep going to spend this couple of thousand dollars and lenders could keep working? But why is the system that I want to make you trip and fall and then when you look up at me for help, I say, “Well, it’s your fault you’re down there. “How does this work? Help me. I’m confused, Christine.

Christine K.:

Yeah, and it’s not working. That’s the problem, Katherine. This is not working. We are told… and you and I are from the gen X generation, right? We’re not millennials. We’re not the young people, but what happened is I was told, “Go get an education. You’re going to make a better future,” okay.?Yeah, and it’s not working. That’s the problem, Katherine. This is not working. We are told… and you and I are from the gen X generation, right? We’re not millennials. We’re not the young people, but what happened is I was told, “Go get an education. You’re going to make a better future,” okay.?

Katherine:

Yeah, I heard that.

Christine K.:

Then that’s what they’re being told, but the problem is they’re not being told how to get through college wisely without this landmine of educational debt that people are in. The problem is we are not taught financial literacy in this country-

Katherine:

No.

Christine K.:

And yet you’re expected at the age of 18, “Go get a college degree” line up for some FAFSA form, whatever this FAFSA stuff is right? And you’re going to go ahead and lock yourself in to the largest contract of your entire life and you just turned 18 years old and you have no understanding of contract law, let alone what $100,000 in debt really looks like and means to you over the next 30 years of your life. They’re locking them into this and they’re saying, “Here, just sign here. You want the education? Good. This is what you need to do.”

They’re racking up the debt because they know that they want the education. The schools have no skin in the game because they don’t have any accountability whatsoever under Title IV funding to get a federal student loan eligibility for a university. I don’t know what the bare minimum requirements are, but they’re making those numbers up to become eligible to give away this federal student loan stuff. How did we not see this coming when we take an 18 year old, walk them into the largest contract of their life at 18 and they have no idea what’s about to come down the pipeline?

Katherine:

They don’t even know to anticipate anything. They just walk right into it just to the slaughter. So tell me, what is the name of this book? We jumped right into it. This needs to be said audience. I apologize because I got excited knowing that there’s a book coming out. I am a book. I like books, you know?

Christine K.:

I’m going to get you a copy.

Katherine:

Absolutely. What is going to be the name of this book that we’re going to release very soon for the world to have a copy of, especially the United States?

Christine K.:

Well, I think it may end up turning into a horror film because the title of the book is, “Student Loans Are Scarier Than Shit.”

Katherine:

Amen. They are. Once you finally realize you cut the lights on in life and you say, “What have I done?” and there’s so much information that is available, but the thing is it’s great that it’s there to be known, but who knows to look for it?

Christine K.:

Exactly. It’s designed to be a resource for those that are already knee deep in it. It’s probably more of a warning to the rest of them. Think about it. As a parent, I have a son, he’s 26 right? Everybody wants to send their kids to school. Well, here’s the other thing. Not only are these kids burying themselves, guess what? They’re taking their relatives with them because these schools are now requiring on every single private student loan that’s issued, they want co-signers. Now I’ve seen up to three people on a contract, two co-signers plus the borrower. Now you’ve got yourself, your mother and your grandmother on the hook.

Katherine:

If I had an old school phone and you know what I’m talking about, that rotary phone with the handle with the cradle, I would hang up in your ear right now for you saying that so you could hear the phone just kind of scrambling to hang up because that just makes me angry. You just want to slam the phone down. Why do we want to hinder someone else? Why do we want someone to be on the hook to us? Guess what I have found out. You may not eat at fast food, but I do. Okay? And what I find is since I don’t like to cook, I’m going to go back to the place that treats me well. I’m not going just for fries, I’m not going because it’s on a certain side of town. I’m going because I like the way it tastes and I don’t like cooking and I’m going to keep coming back because your price is reasonable.

I’m not in debt coming to you to get something that I like. Same with education. As many people log in as we see these different sites that you can go on and teach yourself through your public library or sites like lynda.com, you can self- teach at home. So people want to learn, people want to be educated people, people will continue to buy a product if it’s reasonably priced. If you put me in debt, that keeps me from getting the next degree I want it to get, that keeps me from doing something else like buying a home, which would be the equivalent of what I’m in debt for, for education. Why can’t we price things that’s just reasonable? You still make money. Is it a problem to just have, you know?

Christine K.:

Yeah, it’s a problem.

Katherine:

But why?

Christine K.:

I’ll tell you why. Capitalism. Capitalism requires that you and I spend our money not hang on to it and capitalism, Yeah. Right? That everybody spends money and the problem right now is with the $1.5 trillion sitting there as debt, these people… I’m now seeing more retirement folks coming to me for bankruptcy planning just so they can retire. That’s one thing I see more of nowadays.

Katherine:

Wow. Okay.

Christine K.:

Older folks stuck in debt wanting to retire. That is the last thing you need in retirement right now is to have debt. Right?

Katherine:

Right.

Christine K.:

Then the younger people, “I just got out of college and I’ve got a minimum wage job, but my student loans from university of chef school and I’ve got $200,000 in student loans and I’m flipping burgers at McDonald’s because that’s the only job I got.” Well, I hate to tell you, but you don’t need to Le Cordon Bleu degree at $200,000 to flip burgers at McDonald’s.

Katherine:

You don’t.

Christine K.:

You go to work for McDonald’s and start at the bottom and work your way up. How do you think some of these celebrity chefs got there? They spent 20 years in a kitchen flipping burgers.

Katherine:

See, now that’s where you just messed up. I think I might have one of the reasons why we’re in the trouble that we’re in sounds like a shortcut. It takes about 10 to 20 years from the research I’ve done to become an overnight success, to be Emeril.

Christine K.:

There you go.

Katherine:

And that’s telling my age or whoever the person is, Hell’s Kitchen or whoever the chefs are now. Right? So it takes time to get where you’re going and with the plan, and I think people don’t want to… I think I got a solution. You got to put this book out and at the very end, tell them the solution is… Don’t do that. But I think in my opinion, that the solution is that people don’t want to plan because the plan means you have to go back, adjust, be flexible, redefine what your goals are, what you’re trying to do. But when we got into the mess, we were just, “Woo who, we’re going to go get this degree. They sold us the dream,” and what you find out is, it’s not what it seems. Disappointment for me-

Christine K.:

That’s exactly right, yeah.

Katherine:

… disappointment for me when I got my undergrad degree for education, they taught you really nice what should happen. Unfortunate for me, I was subbing in the public school system here to see that what I was learning in school will not happen in this real world. They say that you’re supposed to have small classrooms because that’s best where learning of all students and for the teacher to be able to be of maximum effect. Well, right now you’ve got about 30 to 45 kids in the room and this is 11 years ago when I got that degree. What is it now as the city I live in keeps growing and we have less housing that’s affordable for people? Yeah. Yeah. A lot of something’s going to break. It is.

Christine K.:

The smartest person in the room is my hairdresser. She never went to college. She went to hairdresser school. This chick charges over $200 for a really good cut. She’s a color wizard, by the way. Seriously, she is making $200 per cut and she can do how many per day and she doesn’t have any student loan debt. Why? Because she skipped school. She knew what she wanted to do and…

Katherine:

That better be a chapter in that book; skipping school.

Christine K.:

I know right?

Katherine:

Because skipping school was bad when I was growing up. Right? It’s so interesting. There’s so many things that people can do that will be a different route. I think too, that again, my opinion, you’re doing research, you’re writing this book. I can’t wait to read it, but as we’re talking about this right now, I think that I’m afraid to do something that could make sense like take a six month course and already be into my career as opposed to four to eight to 12 years when I don’t need it for a particular thing.

I want to go to school so my mom can say, “My daughter went to college and she has all these degrees.” We want it to be a set route you. You set it and forget it and that’s not how life is. You create it as you go, but you better ask them questions and we do get ourselves in situations. “You can’t ask a question about that. If you want money for school, just sign here,” and it sounds nice at the time if what you’re trying to do after that, like that foresight. Tell me more. What else is going to be covered in this book? We got to go. Hurry

Christine K.:

I know. That’s fine. We got plenty. We’ll run over and do multiple sessions on this one. Really, I’m looking at providing them with some strategies and some steps. For example, earlier you’re talking about being in deferment. Being in deferment doesn’t give you an end game. My recommendation for people that are in deferment right now on those federal student loans only, you need to get on some kind of an income driven repayment plan because those have an end game. Right now in deferment, your interest is accruing and your balance is going up and it’s not going anywhere. When you get on the income driven repayment plan, at least you know at the end of 25 years or 20 years, if it’s a pay as you earn type program, there’s an end game.

Any balance at the end of those programs is administratively written off. That’s the best game in town outside of bankruptcy as those income driven repayment plans. The other thing is all these companies cropping up helping you refinance or do some things with your student loans, there’s a lot of scams and pitfalls out there. My book’s got an entire chapter on watching out for the pitfalls in the scams out there because now not only do you owe the debt, now you owe some bonehead that messed you up and got you further into debt and then what are you going to do about it? Right? Even though bankruptcy is not always yeah, it’s not the best solution, but it’s in there and we’re going to talk about that. I don’t want people to be afraid of filing bankruptcy.

You know the hardest part now? Is finding a bankruptcy attorney that has some kind of understanding about how to deal with student loans, let alone multiple options like I’ve developed over the years on how to tackle these things, either in a payment plan, a chapter 13 or we go for an adversary proceeding. I’m asking everybody now listening, please support your Congress bill to put student loans back into bankruptcy discharge. There’s bills in Congress right now. Ask your Congress members, make those phone calls, send those emails, bring back a bankruptcy student loan discharge and that’s going to make a huge difference for the future of America.

Katherine:

Hey, I know we’ve run out of time. We’re going to have to continue this conversation. Microphone dropped right there. I want you to tell everybody how to get in touch with you outside of, “This Needs To Be Said,” for those that are in your area. If you have information that you want people to connect with you on like a list or something so they can know when this book drops, let me know that. If not, we’ll do it next time, but what my point is when we wrap this interview up today, as we’re wrapping it up, tell people how to get in touch with you. Okay?

Christine K.:

Awesome. I am Christine Kingston and my firm is Surf City Lawyers here in Huntington Beach, California. Our telephone number is (714) 533-9210 and I own Student Loan Lawyer on Facebook, so please connect with me on Facebook/studentloanlawyer and you’ll see Surf City Lawyers in connection with that. I will be posting more information up on my social media pages. If you’re on Twitter, I am @AttyChristine, which is A-T-T-Y, Christine, C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-E, or even on Facebook. I’ve got multiple pages there as well. Website is surfcitylawyers.com.

Katherine:

Thank you so much. Thank you, “This Needs To Be Said,” audience for tuning in, taking notes. Please get in touch with Christine if you have any questions, any concerns. As you have heard, every time she’s come on the show, she’s sharing her knowledge, she’s educating, and even though you may still have an emotional attachment to the way you’re doing things now, if it’s not bringing you your best possible life, it’s time to do something different. Christine, thank you again. Until next time, have a super day.

Christine K.:

Thanks, Katherine. I look forward to talking to you again. I’ll get you a copy of that book, love. Thank you.

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