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Stranger pays off single mom's student loans

1:48 PM, Mar 30, 2013   |    comments
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By: Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today

Starlie Becote told USA TODAY in December that she didn't even have a dollar to buy her five children gifts.

In March, the Rhode Island single mother got a much bigger present from a businessman who read the Dec. 24 article about people facing financial hardship at the holidays.

The man, who asked that his name not be used to preserve his privacy, paid off Becote's college loans, which totaled more than $35,000. In January, he wired her $5,000 to help with her expenses.

Becote earns about $13.65 an hour as a case manager for a community mental health center. With her five children in tow, she ran out of gas on the way to the interview for the December article and had to borrow money to fill her tank..

Holiday stress: Families still dealing with impact of recession

Paying off Becote's loan took far longer than expected because the U.S. Department of Education loan couldn't be paid off with foreign currency. The first check the man wrote was returned because it was drawn on a Canadian bank. Even a U.S. money order was sent back because it was somehow connected to a Canadian bank. Ultimately, he wired the money to a relative in the USA who paid it off, Becote says.

Becote, who couldn't afford to pay any of the unexpectedly high $400 monthly loan payments, was incurring $6 a day in interest.

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