Student-loan debt plagues older worker

DEAR HARRY: I am in a terrible fix. I have school loans that are now down to about $34,000 after several years of a payroll attachment of 15 percent. I have a pension plan with my current employer of about $110,000 and a 401(k) plan with a former employer of $40,000.

My wife came down with the big C a few years ago, and that set us back hard. It is still giving us grief. I will shortly be leaving my job with a termination bonus of $31,000, which the lenders know about.

I fear that they will grab this money to pay down my school loans in addition to what they're now getting. This is all in the face of my wife's total disability. I already have a new job, and they told me that the 15 percent will continue.

Harry, I'm hurting financially and mentally. I consulted two family members who are lawyers, and they agree that I must pay the debt one way or another or it will come out of my estate when I die. You're my last hope.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Those school loans are virtually impossible to get rid of, short of paying them off or becoming totally disabled. Your lawyers are right. The lenders could go after your bonus. However, let's try a long shot. Congressmen have a great deal of influence. Let's get yours on your side.


Email Harry Gross at, or

write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.