Matter of Life and Debt

18 Episodes

By: Nikki Nolan

Every other Thursday, I will talk to different people about student debt, hear their stories, and learn from their experiences.

Successful PSLF

Our guest this week, government lawyer and poet Hil Kaman, talks about his journey to getting forgiveness through the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Read more

Mini-Episode with Umme Hoque

In this week’s mini-episode, returning guest Umme Hoque, Organizing Director of The Debt Collective, talks about the recent student debt cancellation week of action. Umme discusses how the movement to cancel student debt is building pressure on President Biden to take action, and it's working. She also gives us an update on the memo Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is writing to President Biden about student loan cancellation. Read more

Power in Collective Action

Umme Hoque, Organizing Director of The Debt Collective, talks to Nikki about how, after taking on student debt she became disillusioned with the American Dream. She now works for complete student debt cancelation as well as a radical overhaul of the American education system. Read More


This week’s guest, Melissa Byrne, is back on the podcast  to tell us more about her advocacy work towards student debt cancellation, and the latest news from Washington on the federal student loan and crisis. Read More

The Prosp(A)rity Project

After struggling with her own student loan debt, this week’s guest, Briana B. Franklin, started a nonprofit called The Prosp(A)rity Project that wants to alleviate student loan debt for all black women. Read More

Shame[Less] Student Debt

In this episode of Matter of Life and Debt, our guest, EDI Professional Emma Klauber explains why she started her publication shame[less] to destigmatize student loan debt. Read More

Mini Episode with Melissa Byrne

This week’s podcast guest Melissa Byrne is a senior political and community organizer focusing on canceling student debt and making education free for all. Read More

Canceling Student Loan Debt

This week’s guest, Winter, an organizer for the Debt Collective, talks about the six-figures of student debt and the emotional breakdown that led him eventually to a life devoted to student debt activism. Read More

The Student Debt Strike

In this episode of Matter of Life and Debt, student loan activist Eli Campbell tells Nikki what he has learned about SLABS, why he is a good candidate for debt striking and what he thinks is the future of student loans in the United States. Read More

Pawns in the Loan Market

After 15 years of making the minimum payments on her student loans, Ro Fainstein now finds herself with the same amount of debt as she started with: $40,000. In protest she has stopped paying her loans. Read More

Going Green to Get Out of the Red

After life threw them a series of curveballs, this week’s guest got a job that allowed them to pay off their student debt from undergrad, as well as graduate school in cash. Read More

Passion and A Paycheck

This week on the podcast we talk to Tameka Vasquez, strategist, educator and futurist. She explains how the financial concerns around paying off her loans dictated the course of her career from Journalism to Business major. Read More

A Reality of No Student Debt

On this week’s episode, artist Forrest Gerke tells host Nikki Nolan how he was able to leave school without any debt. Read More

Law School and Loan Forgiveness

After taking out six figures in loans to attend law school, an anonymous government lawyer explains that her more than a quarter of a million dollars in loans may not qualify for public service forgiveness, she is hoping it will. Read More

Don’t Let Debt Define You

After accumulating six figures worth of student loan debt from art school, artist and writer Sarah Thibault shares the financial fall out that still affects her decades later, as well as how she stays optimistic despite it. Read More

Was College Worth It?

Chef Ronny Miranda shares his experiences leaving college with more student debt than he bargained for, participating in two class-action lawsuits against Sallie Mae, and his skepticism about higher education in the United States. Read More

A Matter of Life and Debt

In the first episode of A Matter of Life and Debt, host Nikki Nolan shares her personal journey with her student loans, which ended in her paying off a total of $162,144 over the course of 29 months, ending in August 2020. Read More

Trailer - Matter of Life and Debt

Are you one of the 44+ million people in the United States with student loan debt? Or are you a high schooler, or someone thinking about going back to school but will have to take out a loan to do so? Then Matter of Life and Debt is for you. Each week I will talk to different people about student debt, hear their stories, and learn from their experiences.  Find it wherever you listen to podcasts. Learn more at, and Subscribe to be notified when new episodes come out.