Maria Galvan used to make about $25,000 a year. She didn’t qualify for welfare, but she still had trouble meeting her basic needs.

“I would just be working just to be poor and broke,” she said. “It would be so frustrating.”

When things got bad, the single mother and Topeka resident took out a payday loan. That meant borrowing a small amount of money at a high interest rate, to be paid off as soon as she got her next check.

A few years later, Galvan found herself strapped for cash again. She was in debt, and garnishments were eating up a big chunk of her paychecks. She remembered how easy it was to get that earlier loan: walking into the store, being greeted with a friendly smile, getting money with no judgment about what she might use it for.

So she went back to payday loans. Again and again. It began to feel like a cycle she would never escape.

“All you’re doing is paying on interest,” Galvan said. “It’s a really sick feeling to have, especially when you’re already strapped for cash to begin with.”

Like thousands of other Kansans, Galvan relied on payday loans to afford basic needs, pay off debt and cover unexpected expenses. Continue reading