Boxed In, Borrowers Struggle to Repay Private Student Loans

Borrowers, Lacking Options, Struggle to Repay Private Student Loans 1

Mark Abramson for The Chronicle

Dana Knowles graduated from Smith College in 2007 with student loans to repay. "The experience with federal loans as opposed to private loans is like night and day," she says.

Not long ago, Dana L. Knowles received a notice from Sallie Mae, the servicer of her private student loan. Starting in April, the e-mail said, payments on her $26,000 loan would increase by more than $200 a month.

"I can't pay this much," Ms. Knowles says. "A couple hundred dollars might not make much of a difference for some people, but it does for me."

Ms. Knowles—who earned a bachelor's degree in Italian from Smith College—works full time as a metadata