Editor's note: The name of the borrower in this story has been changed to protect her privacy.
Jane was in desperate straights. Her 11-year-old son, who is a diabetic needed to begin insulin treatment.
However, her insurance would not pay for the medicine. She needed cash.
Jane reached out to a pay day loan company. She borrowed $500 to pay for her son's medicine.
The initial charge for the loan was $75. Jane said she planned to pay down the loan over five paychecks about $100 at a time.
“I would try to pay the $100, but I had to pay bills. I had a car payment and medical bills and rent. I couldn't afford to pay on the pay day loan.”
This went on for six months. Every two weeks, Jane had to pay another $75 to renew the loan. Jane couldn't pay the renewal fee, and her check was garnished. She ended up paying $900 — 180 percent interest —before a local nonprofit group directed to her bank that loaned her the money at a much lower interest rate so she could pay off the pay day loan.
Although she desperately needed the money, Jane said it was too easy to go in and get the loan.
Rep. Clark Shultz, R-McPherson, has been working for the last several years to reform pay day loan regulations. He said there are many people like Jane who have nowhere else to turn for loans but end up in a debt cycle from which they can't escape.
One of the most important reforms ended the prosecution of nonpayment of pay day loans as a crime.
In the past, if a person's pay day loan check did not clear the bank, that borrower could be brought up on criminal bad check charges.
This measure was crucial for Jane, who could have lost her job in the health-care industry if she had been brought up on criminal charges.
The legislation also requires borrowers to be informed about all fees and facets associated with the loans.
Cassandra Lee, branch manager of Advance Check in McPherson, said employees go over the pay day loan contracts with borrowers before they sign them.
She said regulations that limit the number of pay day loans borrowers can make have been positive.
“I think some people use them too much,” she said.
However, she said she was thankful that the pay day loan system existed to help people who had nowhere else to turn, noting a pay day loans is usually a last resort for most people.
Although Lee said the company will allow borrowers to make payments if they can't repay their loans, most borrowers do renew their loans.
Page 2 of 2 - Shultz said further regulation of the pay day loan industry and changes in banking regulations should be considered.
More work needs to be done to inform borrowers of their rights and obligations under these loans, Shultz said.
Also more needs to be done, Shultz said, to encourage banks like Jane's to make small loans at more reasonable interest rates.
“My feeling is that it could be working better. I think it could be fine-tuned,” Shultz said of the pay day loan regulations. “I am concerned someone may be in need and is willing to make a loan that is not in their best interest. The interest on these loans are high, and people don't know how they are going to the loan pay them back, but they are perhaps stuck between a rock and hard place.”