‘Maybe one day I’ll go back to school … but I think I’ll be vacationing on Mars before that comes about’
My name is Kyle, I’m 27 and I graduated from ITT Tech in 2008 with a drafting/design degree. At a cost of $40,000. $20k a year, now that’s a lot, but figured it was the first step in the right direction. Before I took up drafting, I use to work as a “housekeeper” for a local medical clinic. That’s really just a fancy way of saying I emptied the trash and cleaned the toilets. It was a dirty job, but it paid the bills. In fact, I may have been at that same job today, if it had not been for an auto accident in 2004. Unfortunately, due to the injuries I sustained, I was forced to look for work elsewhere. That’s when I made the decision to go back to school and hopefully get a job that didn’t require me to be on my feet all day long.
So in summer 2006, I enrolled at ITT in Seattle, WA. At first things seemed great, classes were going well, I was learning a lot and even made some new friends. But all that changed when I found out about some of the shady/unethical and even illegal practices that were going on at the school. For example, a student was going to school part time, but the school administration would tell the federal government that this student is going full time. There for, they are eligible for federal assistance. The school would then receive the money from the government, and would hold onto it, until that money was spend for future classes. The government has been made aware of this, but to my knowledge they have yet to do anything about it. “Lack of oversight” I believe is what I was told. There was no one to enforce the laws.
When I found out about some of this stuff, I was about half way through my course. So I made the decision to stick with it, and just finish the degree. Which I’m glad I did. Because not long after the beginning of my second year, I was offered a job at a local structural engineering firm. It worked out great for me, I hadn’t even graduated yet and I already have a job in my field. The drafting job paid several dollars more than my housekeeping job and I finally got benefits. I worked during the day and finished my classes at night. And in June of 2008, I graduated from ITT Tech and I was on my way to pay off my loans. $600 a month was my payment. It was a lot, but I was able to afford it with my new job. It would have been smaller, if I was able to consolidate my loans, but as of right now I have 8 loans each with their own interest rate and monthly payment. Add them all up, and it’s a lot.
Then came the recession. And the economy took a drop. I lost my job and couldn’t get another right way, so I had to go on unemployment. And anyone who’s been on unemployment, knows that you don’t get very much money. My $600 a month student loan payment ate up most of my money each month. I thought my biggest concern was to keep up with my payments on my loans. And to this day, I have yet to miss a payment. I had to live in the garage of my brother house for 9 months while I was on unemployment. With most of my UE checks going to keep my student loans current, there was little else I could afford. I owe my brother a big thank you (and a few dozen six-packs) for being there when I needed help.
Today, I have a great job, working for a civil engineer. Working on fiber optic projects throughout Washington State. While I have a good job now, my student loan payment is still a heavy burden. And if the interest rate rises back to 6.8%, it’s going to get even tougher. I still can’t afford some of the things I wish I could. But I manage to survive. Looking back I am glad I made the decision to go back to school and earn a degree. It helped me get a better paying job (even with this payment each month) and I do feel like it was one of my highest accomplishments in my life thus far. The only regret I do have, is going to ITT Tech. I wish I had chosen a different school. Even a community college would have been better, looking back. But that’s the past, and I have hope for the future. Maybe one day I’ll go back to school and study more, but I think I’ll be vacationing on Mars before that comes about.