US education loan
I advise you to read further the story of one guy who was forced to live in his van in the student parking lot, because he got into credit bondage ..
In 2005, when Ken Ilgunas studied at the undergraduate course at the University of Buffalo, he still had no idea what debt hole he would soon be in.
His specialty (English language and history) was one of the most unclaimed on the labor market, and after 25 appeals to various companies asking for a paid internship and 25 refusals, respectively, he had no hope of finding a job by profession.
“At that moment, it served as a kind of 'call,'” Ken says. “This huge debt of 32,000 dollars hung on me, and I rolled the trolleys at the Home Depot store for $ 8 an hour.
In those days, student loans were not yet surrounded by the scandalous fame they have today. Ilgunas could delay the payment or declare a temporary insolvency, or simply ask his parents for a loan (by the way, they were more than willing to help him).At the very least, he could go to graduate school and wait until the labor market emerges from the crisis.
Instead, Ken moved to Alaska and worked there for two years to pay off the loan. After that, he entered the graduate school at Duke University and all the time he was studying, he lived in a van in the student parking lot, so that he would not be in debt again.
“When I took out a loan and I couldn’t think about what I subscribe to. I was then 17 years old and I didn’t even know what percentage of it was installed,” Ken says. “My example, I think, shows very well how low awareness of the financial system are young people in our country at this age. "
Ken knew exactly where to go to work: the summer before graduation he spent in Alaska, where he worked in a remote parking lot for trucks. Therefore, he phoned his old acquaintances, who promised him the work of a tour guide and a cook (in fact, the work was a wider profile and consisted in fulfilling the various needs of local residents).
"The next day after my graduation, I flew to Alaska and started work right after arriving," says Ken.- Despite all my ignorance, I nevertheless was aware that if I did not deal with my debts, I would be expected to be charged a large amount of interest or charged with violation of debt obligations. So I wanted to pay off the loan as quickly as physically possible. "
For a 20-year-old graduate who urgently needs to repay a debt, moving to Alaska was a great solution. “The place where I worked was 250 miles from the nearest store, room and board were turned on, there was no mobile connection,” Ken says. “You would be very surprised at how much money you can save if you lower your standard of living. The result was that almost every dollar I earned went to pay off my student loan. "
Ken worked in Alaska a year for $ 9 an hour and he managed to pay more than $ 18,000 on a loan. Then he hitchhiked to New York, where he settled on a six-month contract by an AmeriCorps volunteer in Mississippi.
But in the new job they paid little, and at the end of the contract he went back to the North: "I settled in Coldfoot again, this time with a ranger in the Gates of the Arctic reserve.I finally started getting a good salary. "
Two and a half years after leaving for work, Ken made his last loan payment. With interest, the total amount of his payments was 35 thousand dollars.
After that, he wanted to continue his studies. “During my travels, I decided for myself two things,” says Ken. “First: I will never again borrow money in my life, and second, I will study further. the letter has greatly deteriorated. "
On the way home, he decided to enroll in some affordable humanitarian program that would pay for itself in the future. He settled on Duke University, where they took $ 2,500 per semester.
He needed to find a place with a minimum rent, and then he remembered one person with whom he met in Alaska. He lived in his car all year round and was quite happy with life. “I wondered if he could live like this in the wild north, I’m probably going to do the same in North Carolina,” Ken says.
When on Craigslist Ken came across an ad for the sale of a Ford Econoline from 1994 for $ 1,500, he realized that this car would be his new home.
Fortunately, he was given a place on a semi-abandoned off-campus parking.He could go in and out of the van when he wanted, and not be afraid of being noticed. “At the beginning, my movements caused a strong adrenaline rush for me,” Ken says. “I felt that this time I was breaking some rules and there was something very exciting in this whole situation.”
The first weeks in Duke were very harsh. “By the time I bought the van, I already managed to spend $ 2,000,” Ken continues. “I realized that it would be hard for me, because I still had to pay for insurance, gas, mobile phone and food. In those first few for weeks, I was actually starving to save as much money as possible. "
Gradually, Ken began to engage in the arrangement of his van. "Over time, it turned into a kind of student room in a dorm, only a small one," says Ken. He removed the rear seats, thereby freeing up enough space to accommodate his "furniture" in the van. He used a plastic container to store food and training supplies.
A very important point in this way of life was order. Clothes for washing, for example, Ken kept in front, in the passenger seat.
Ken cooked food on a regular tourist stove."I mixed noodles with vegetables, it turned out very cheap and useful," says our terminator.
He had a headlamp flashlight, which he kept constantly charged to do his homework in the evenings. He bought a subscription for a student gymnasium for $ 34 and now could attend a shower there. He also took water for cooking and drinking at the gym.
Another library has become his refuge. There was WiFi here and Ken could charge all his electronic devices.
In his new life there was only one rule: no one should know about her. “I understood that the news that a homeless student lives on the campus can easily spread through Twitter or Facebook. I didn’t want this very much. Therefore, I spent the first semester alone.”
Ken undertook any part-time job, including working part-time as a teacher at a local elementary school.
"Sometimes it was very cold at night, the temperature reached 10 degrees (Fahrenheit, respectively -12 Celsius - approx. Translation.). On such nights I put on thermal underwear and climbed into a sleeping bag, and slept just fine."
"Over time, I became completely accustomed. I stopped to think that I was doing something out of the ordinary."
All this time, Ken was inspired by the experience of Henry David Thoreau's forest life. "I was very inspired by the very idea of turning the wildest fantasies into something real and the possibility of creating your own life."
“The van was not just a means of saving money. I wanted to get some life experience and find out how much money I really needed to live. I didn’t want to ask my parents for a loan every time I face life difficulties.”
By the third semester, Ken’s loneliness was in his throat. “I just couldn’t keep my life secret anymore,” Ken says. “I constantly had to worry that no one could see how I got out of the van in the morning and how I entered it in the evening. In addition, I I always wanted to be a writer and now I had a great storyline for the book (Ken later wrote and published a book about his adventures). "
Ken decided to write an article about his life for the site. "The next day, 85 new friends were added to my Facebook friends, and I received hundreds of messages and letters."
At Duke University, they didn’t have much enthusiasm about it, but, fortunately, they didn’t get Ken out of the parking lot or the university.“They wanted me to make an agreement with them that if something happened to me, I would not sue them. At the same time, they introduced a new rule that effectively prohibited the new wagon dealers from settling on campus,” says Ken. .
Ken was only one semester, but the money was running out, and it was necessary to live in Duke for a few more months. Therefore, Ken began working as a lab rat and took part in at least twenty medical experiments for which they paid 10 to 20 dollars an hour, during which they scanned his brain, forced him to swallow experimental drugs and studied his cognitive functions.
But in the end, all his hardships paid off. Ken successfully completed graduate school in May 2011 and should not have a cent left.
"Some students consider their education loan to be a sort of insurance, a payment that they have to make on a monthly basis. For me, this is a heavy burden - a duty that does not allow you to live a full life."
Ken is currently still living in North Carolina, where he is working on his second book on his six-month journey along the Keystone Pipeline. (And yes, the van is still with him!).