Student Loan Sob Story

August 26, 2009

I’m only writing about this because the guy in this story left a comment on this post along with a link to his website, No wonder why this guy wants his debt forgiven and why he founded his website:

My name is Robert Applebaum. I am a 35 year old attorney from Staten Island, NY and the founder of This movement began as a proposal I wrote one morning on a Facebook Group called “Cancel Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy.” This is my story:

I am a 1998 graduate of Fordham University School of Law – an education I financed through the Federal Stafford Loan program. By the time I graduated from law school, I had amassed approximately $65,000 in student loan debt.

Starting in 1999, I began working as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. where my starting salary was $36,000 per year. With a strong desire to use my education to serve my community, I was forced to place my loans into forbearance because I simply could not afford to make student loan payments while paying rent at the same time.

Thanks to “capitalized interest” – a racket whereby interest continues to accumulate, which then gets tacked onto the principal, the amount I owed grew exponentially over time. After five years of service as an ADA, while watching my student loan debt grow at an alarming rate, I was forced to make the unfortunate decision to leave a job I loved simply because I felt that I needed to begin to pay down my student loan debt. But for that debt, I likely would have continued in public service indefinitely.

For the next five years, I made regular payments on my student loan debt, never once defaulting on my loans and I continue to make payments to this very day. Despite five years of regular payments, and because of the first five years during which my loans were in forbearance, my principal loan balance is more than $20,000 higher today than it was on the day I graduated. Unfortunately, I’m not alone.

Apparantly Mr. Applebaum has NO IDEA how interest works. You see, people and companies don’t loan money for free. The $65,000 Mr. Applebaum racked up had to come from somewhere. It was loaned to him with the stipulation that it would be paid back at some point in the future with interest. Mr. Applebaum didn’t understand this and then when he figured out he couldn’t pay back the loan, he was surprised to find out that the interest was being tacked on to his loan amount, and therefore increasing his debt.


Come on Mr. Applebaum. You’re a lawyer. You can’t figure this stuff out?

You made a mistake and it shouldn’t be up to the American taxpayer to bail you out. Instead, why don’t you look for a better job or move to a place with a lower cost of living so that you can afford to pay back your loan and pay rent?

I don’t mean to pick on Mr. Applebaum. But, publicizing his plight and asking for the Federal Government to step in and magically wipe away his debt is just too much for me to handle.

67 responses to Student Loan Sob Story

  1. This is sadly typical of the entitlement issue facing our society today. Borrow money, agree in advance to the conditions of the loan and then when you are bored of making your payments or decide that you don’t want to do it any more because you are better than to have to keep your word, or your conditions change, you want to walk away from your responsibilities. Yep, that big ol’ ugly word “RESPONSIBILITIES!!!!!!!!” Buck up Robert and pay your debt like you said you would when you NEEDED it. By the way, I am betting you are a defense attorney right? Getting the guilty off because they changed their mind about following the laws?

  2. My brain may not be fully formed at Age 23 yet, (I guess) But I already know that life isn’t fair.

    I agree that in situations student loans should be part of payment plan ex.

    Teachers going to teach in inner city or with specific special needs for 2-3 years after graduation.

    I would assume some similar program with lawyers working with inner city and abused people for some time of loan repayment included with your “low salary”

    Otherwise pay back the money that you borrowed whether you were brain was fully formed or not so that I don’t have too. Thanks, I sincerely hope you do some day get to work your dream job and hope that you are willing to put other things on hold until that day.

  3. “In my opinion “student loan” is still an umbrella term for “debt I didn’t have to accumulate”. Loans are not a necessity to attend a good school. I worked my butt of each year and saved money while in high school so I wouldn’t have to take out loans.”

    Ashley, you aren’t a doctor or a lawyer, right? I don’t know about lawyers, but I do know a few doctors:
    1) Medical schools are expensive even state schools. I doubt it is feasible to earn enough in high school to pay for 4 years of medical school in addition to pre-med.
    2) People usually go to medical schools that take them and it just may be possible for someone to be accepted to a private school but not a state school.
    3) Medical school is really full time i.e. you cannot work in the evenings simply because you don’t get time in the evenings.

    Basically, without student loans only the rich could become doctors.

    As to the subject at hand, as much as I don’t want to bailout anybody, I think there have to be some incentives for people who go into public service. E.g. for family doctors in areas where there is shortage of doctors, for doctors willing to work in free clinics and for lawyers doing pro bono work. So I wouldn’t have a problem with some education subsidies in exchange for public service for a certain number of years after graduation.

  4. If you only have an undergraduate degree and little debt, you will be fine. However, there are many professionals (like attorneys) who took out large loans b/c they thought they would obtain a well-paying job after graduation.

    Guess what? The economy changed and legal jobs are much more difficult to find. My wife and I both graduated with six-figure debt, but yet the only jobs we can find are those paying around $40,000 per year. What a joke!

    You can’t save enough for most law/med schools, and you can’t work while you are there either. Being a law or med student means you study 24/7.

    I don’t want a handout. I am willing to work hard and take a low-paying job like an ADA, but I would need the government to provide a certain degree of forgiveness.

  5. @#54 Ray: I disagree that working FT thru Law School is impossible. My husband did it by taking classes at night (w/2, then 3 children…Our last son was a “December Law School Final Celebration” baby…BTW, today is his #9 birthday!!

    So it can be done…but you’d better have a strong marriage and an even stronger wife (or husband) who will be bearing the load of managing the family’s “life.”

    PS Try working in the business world rather than as a practicing attorney. I bet your pay will exceed $40K…

  6. Here is a great chance to drive a large number of targeted visitors to your blogs and websites for free.

    Submit your websites, blogs, videos to and get 1000s of visitors everyday for free. It also helps your websites/blogs gain valuable backlinks.

    Let the other bloggers cast their votes to push your posts up for a greater visibility. Enjoy free huge traffic to your sites.



  7. Stacey,
    Rely on my wife? How? She was in law school too!

    Working through law school when you are on Law Review is NOT possible. Trust me.

    Also, my law school had no part-time program.

  8. I guess you picked the wrong law school…But good luck in your careers!

  9. Just curious at to whether I’m still banned from this debate. Apparently the owner of this blog didn’t like my rational, well-reasoned, non-personal explanations for what I’ve proposed and, thus, chose to censor me instead.

  10. Robert,

    “Rational, well-reasoned” is debatable.

    I didn’t censor you. I don’t censor commenters unless they are:

    1. Leaving off-topic, rude comments.


    2. Spamming my blog.

    What I want here is a discussion. You can’t have a discussion if you censor opposing points of view.

  11. Oh look, the ban was lifted. Not sure exactly what I said last week that was not allowed to be seen by the rest of you, but let me address a few of the comments that have been made.

    #1 – I did not attend Fordham initially with the intention of becoming an ADA. If that was my goal at the beginning, I’d have gone to Brooklyn Law or something similar. Believe it or not, things happen over the course of 3 years and my priorities changed during that time. So, had I known then what I know now, my choices may have been different. I don’t think it’s necessary to crucify me for changing career paths between the ages of 21 and 24.

    #2 – “I’ll bet you’re a defense attorney. . .” Uhhh, no. Try reading. I’ve put myself out there – explained my story openly and honestly only to illustrate some of the inherent problems in the system. Again, I did not propose this for myself and I’m not complaining about myself. I can and do pay my loans back.

    #3 – “Pay your loans. . .take personal responsibility” – Good advice. That’s precisely what I’ve been doing. Go figure – had you read what I’ve written, you’d have already known that.

    #4 – “Nothing you can say will change my mind” – Fair enough. Glad to know you have an open mind and are open to rational, civilized debate.

    #5 – “Sorry about your predicament.” Again, I don’t have a predicament. I borrowed money for my education, I’m paying it back. This isn’t about me. This is a proposal I’ve put forth as an alternative to spending TRILLIONS of taxpayer dollars on bailing out the very institutions that caused the economic mess we’re in.

    #6 – “Get a high paying job, pay your loans back and then go back to public service if that’s what you want to do.” Again, good advice. Again, try reading. I left the DA’s office 5 years ago precisely because of my loan situation. I made the unfortunate, but responsible decision to leave a low-paying job I loved to take a higher paying job so as to pay those loans. I didn’t like it, but I did it because I AM responsible. I’m NOT looking for a handout. I’m merely proposing an alternative to throwing trillions of good dollars after bad with the hope and belief that propping up the middle class is a better use of OUR tax dollars.

  12. You were never banned.

  13. #61 Robert) You didn’t address my argument:

    File for bankruptcy if you want the debt forgiven.

    A lot of posters erroneously stated that student loans can’t be forgiven, but they can be:

    I’m my opinion, if you don’t file for bankruptcy, then that means you actually can afford to make the payments. And if you can afford to make the payments, then YOU SHOULD MAKE THE PAYMENTS!

    I understand completely why the litmus test is harder for student loans — because we can’t repossess your mind and take back the education that you are trying to get for free.

    (FYI, JLP doesn’t ban people — cause I’d be the first :)

  14. Where is your outrage regarding the bailouts to the banks? And for everyone stating that the money is now being paid back, you have bought into the delusional PR from the Wall Street machine. What is being paid back is TARP loans. TARP is the money that came from the approved $700 billion bailout. That is only one part.

    What about the $12 trillion in financial back stops that are still in place? Do you realize that Goldman Sachs is back to high frequency trading using the Federal Reserve as a short term loan with rates near zero? What about the backstops at Citi and Bank of America?

    I understand the outrage with student loans. No bailout, agreed. Yet I find the outrage with this one issue misplaced since I don’t remember a “hell no” regarding the financial bailouts of the banks.

  15. In the interest of further argument, I totally support your suggestion Mr. Applebaum. This country offers a variety of public service programs to assist those who have a ‘higher’ calling and want to serve. Why not do the same for attorneys who are willing to make c— for money. There are many like you–passionate, bright, committed– who would have and should have stayed in the system if the system paid more. This country appears to be more interested in bail outs which have not proven to be particularly successful than supporting this part of our infrastructure. There is a huge turnover in DAs’ offices. Our ADAs work as many or more hours than private attorneys and get paid as much as or less than some of the secretaries who work in their offices–if they’re lucky enough to have one.
    The feds have finally figured out (as a result of years of lobbying) the critical need to help DAs with their government loans for this very reason. Still, there are hundreds, dare I say, thousands of ADAs who decided during law school to work within the system for the greater good only to discover that even if they CAN afford to pay back their private loans, the chances of say, owning a home, or putting money away for retirement is slim to none.
    We can continue to take newbies out of law school and hope that they are in the unique position of having paid for law school (or parents paid). If they stay, the system will run more smoothly. Take a look at the turnover rate. It’s not pretty. That does not make for a consistently well run system. I support your contention that we should review this. If we want to attract and keep good attorneys in our DA offices, we need to look at this problem and not accept the status quo.

  16. I dislike big business, but lets be real about what Mr. Applebaum agreed to. How about being a man of your word instead of crying about what you signed up for! His student loan payment does help the economy, it’s just that he doesn’t get to choose where to spend it! Yes, your plan would benefit you! If everyone had their loan forgiven, than what’s the value of a loan? I can just take out a loan for my pleasure and decide not to pay it back because it may be forgiven some day. Money is not loaned for free! What is this guy thinking? I was screwed with my student loan debt and worked my butt off for years to get even! For fregkin’ years, and sacraficed a lot!Now this dude wants me to pay for his student loans with my tax money so that he can have an easy life playing around with his easy law job. Great, this guy gets a law degree for free! Thanks to me and all the other tax payers out there? No way dude! Go live in a box for free and work your butt off like I did! You’re only 35 years old. With hard work and little expense, you can pay it off easily within 10 years, if not 5. Sacrafice 5 years of your life to be a man of your word. It’s not like someone changed the rules on you Mr. Lawyer! You’re just sore and lazy!

  17. you all mseem so smart…so why is it you dont get that the student loan industury and it’s “special” rules set many people up for finicial failure. with other loans you can get insurance to cover the loan if you become Ill, and are unable to work and pay, not with these loans, with other loans you get documentation on your payments, interest rate, who owns your loan Etc, you have many more safegards with reg loans then student loans…why? And thanks to degregulation the whole student loan indurstry has to be invistigated. do you know that they have no rules, they are not accountable for what they do or “forget to do” and they refuse to email you any information (because you cant prove what they have “told” you over the phone), or provide documentation to you about your loan. the are not “accountabel” for any errors they may have made to your account. My online access to my account said it was paid off (yeah) I questioned this and never got an answer that made any sence…just no longer had any access to my loan history…still dont. PA must be the wost..its been a horror dealing with AES, I could go on and on about the “way they operate” but whats the wont change a thing…we are all at the mercy of an agency that operates by there own rules and owes no answers to us the consumers who are forced to pay what ever they say for as long as they say…with out providing any documentation to us to confirm the payments or charges…no wonder they can afford to give employees bonus (and what they are being given bonusis for is another issue!) they go on trips, and top guy gets huge salery W\Bonus. we have been had and no one is going to reform these agencies. I should have borrowed from the loan shark instead..he has more integreaty and more honist!!