Veteran Flees US Over $1.75 Million Student Loan Debt

Many students today have taken on student loans and are finding out quickly that in most cases they are not worth what they are paying. In most cases the debts that students incur are about the cost of a nice home. They do it because they think there is a job opportunity out there that will pay them in a year what they built up in debt. That is sadly not happening.

But take Matthew Brides. He is a 65-year-old college professor who teaches online science classes. He earned a science degree in 1984 and later obtained a PhD. in 1996 from a Texas institution. When he finally finished the doctorate, he owed $104,000 in student loans.

Sounds about like the kind of debt that students are racking up today. However, Mr. Bridges loans compounded interest at 29.99% and then when he had not paid, there were collection charges assessed at 25%. “I’ll never be able to earn my way out of this problem,” says Bridges.

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So what did Matthew Bridges do? He fled the country. He moved to the Phillipines.

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Bridges is a veteran. He is dyslexic and has various physical ailments. He has been through many bouts of unemployment and at one point he says, “I was eating out of a dumpster.”

Though Bridges his PhD at 51, it didn’t afford him many job opportunities. Most of the universities wanted people much younger.

He was married in 1994 and he and his wife have lived in “sheer terror” of collection agents. “They used every manner of profanity imaginable,” he says. “They ridiculed me, my degree and my humanity.”

“They misrepresented themselves as being from the federal government,” he continues, “and said that if I didn’t pay in full, they had ways and means of locating me and making sure that me and all my family members were taken to court and made to testify.”

“I’m the only survivor in my family,” Bridges says. “I didn’t want to drag her (his wife) family through that.”

Daily Finance reports,

Unfortunately for Bridges, many of the debt collectors’ threats came true. His wages have been garnished, and his federal income taxes taken annually. “Sometimes, my tax return would be as much as $2,500 or $3,000, but they always took it,” says Bridges. “My wife would have to file something called an innocent spouse form,” so the IRS wouldn’t snatch any refund due her.

Then one day, Bridges and his wife went to the Philippines, partly for recreation but mainly to escape the isolation and pressure of living with his big debts. He says he actually got the idea to stay abroad at the suggestion of a “friendly” debt collector who told him: “You know you’ll never pay this money off. People like you usually just go to another country.”

That idea stuck in his head. So in 2006, he did just that, fleeing America to escape his student loans. In recent years, Bridges and his wife have lived in the Philippines, taught at a school there, and finally enjoyed an existence free from student loan creditors.

“I’m literally a fugitive. I feel like a criminal,” Bridges said. “I can’t own anything. I’m afraid of the knock on the door. I’ve got the blinds drawn. And when there’s a knock on the door or if someone drives up, I first peek out the window to see if I recognize the person or the car. If I don’t, I don’t answer.”

All of this has taken its toll on him and his wife to the point where they are now separated and are about to divorce. He says that though he loves his wife deeply, that going through with the divorce “is the least I can do for her.”

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