Cory Turner

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

"Thank YOU," writes Cara Christensen, a first-grade teacher in Washington state who read NPR's deep dive into the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The reporting, she says, "made me feel not so alone."

We received dozens of emails, tweets and Facebook comments from aggrieved borrowers responding to news that, over the past year, 99 percent of applications for the popular loan-forgiveness program have been denied.

Update: Many student borrowers have responded to this story by sharing stories of their struggles with PSLF. We've curated many of them here.

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 27, Seth Frotman told his two young daughters that he would likely be home early that day and could take them to the playground. They cheered.

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