A college graduate with $30,000 in debt fled the US to avoid paying back his student loans

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  • Chad Albright, now 39, left the US on a one-way ticket to China in 2011, four years after graduating from Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania.
  • At the time, he had $30,000 in college debt and wasn’t sure how he was going to pay it off.
  • He now lives in Ukraine, where he is a permanent resident working in sales.
  • Now he has racked up late fees and compound interest on top of the loan bill, and fears he will never own a car or house, or start a family.
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A Pennsylvania man who has more than $30,000 in college debt left the United States to avoid paying his student loans.

While many people are still paying off their college loans well into their senior years, Chad Albright, now 39, left the US on a one-way ticket to China in 2011, four years after graduating from Millersville University in Millersville, Pennslyvania, according to the York Daily Record.

Now he lives in Ukraine, and hasn’t checked his student loan account in eight years.

Albright worked full time at a pizza place after high school to save up for college, and realized at 25 he would still need loans to pay for his degree.

“I wanted that diploma, and I was willing to work for it. Everyone always told me it would be worth it,” Albright told the Record.

After graduating with a degree in public relations in 2007, he applied for jobs as he continued to work as a pizza delivery man. He eventually moved back in with his parents and fell behind on his loan payments.

“I was expected to make a $400 loan payment every month, but I had no money, no sustainable income. College ruined my life,” Albright said.

Read more: People are fleeing the US to keep from paying off their student loans

In 2011, he secured a job teaching English in China, making $1,000 a month and having his rent paid for by his employer.

He bought a one-way ticket to Zhongshan, China, and never looked back.

“My life was so much better once I left. Why would I ever go back?,” Albright said.

After a few years in China, Albright moved to Ukraine, where he is now a permanent resident working in sales.

The federal government can garnish wages and tax refunds for loan borrowers living in the US, but not for people working abroad.

When Albright left the country he owed $30,000 in loans. Now he has racked up late fees and compound interest on top of the loan bill.

Because he defaulted his loan payments, his credit has suffered and he has never been able to make any “big purchases.”

He said he might not ever be able to get married, buy a house, or have children.

“I’m happy to be away from my debt, but I’m lonely most of the time,” Albright said. “I don’t really have other options at this point, though.”

But potential student loan dodgers should beware: if parents or other family members have co-signed on your loan, they’ll be stuck paying off your debt.

Albright isn’t alone in his decision to leave the country to default on loans.

Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice, told CNBC that the move highlights problems with the student loan system in the United States.

“Any rational person who learns that people are fleeing the country as a result of their student loan debt will conclude that something has gone horribly awry with this lending system,” Collinge said.