Mark Tetzlaff is far from typical when it comes to the severity of his student loan debt. He’s 57, and inching closer to retirement age, yet he still owes a lot of money.
“In terms of the balance, we’re now at about $285,000. It’s accumulating at something close to $950 a month,” Tetzlaff says.
Tetzlaff says nearly half his balance is interest, and he simply can’t afford to pay. “I survive, we survive here, my mother lives with me, we survive solely on her social security,” he says.
Tetzlaff says there are multiple reasons for why he is so deeply in debt and unable to repay his college loans. He says the majority of them accrued while he was earning a law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law, a for-profit college in Florida, about 10 years ago. Since graduating, he’s taken the bar twice and failed. Along the way he’s dealt with substance abuse, depression and two misdemeanors, including one for threatening a witness.
The most recent numbers show that about 11 percent of student loans are delinquent at least 90 days. But not many owe as much as Waukesha’s Mark Tetzlaff. According to the New York Federal Reserve, less than one percent of borrowers owe $200,000 or more.