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Comments from a Former For-Profit School Student

Adam Rust's picture

Posted July 20, 2015

The next comments are from a recent conversation with a student who attended two for-profit colleges during a period from 2013 to 2014. After leaving school without a degree - but with thousands of dollars in debt - she has struggled to keep afloat while working a series of minimum wage jobs. She attended school to learn professional computing skills and then switched to become a graphic designer, but she has not found any work in either field. 

The comment reveals as much about the struggle of living in poverty as it does about for-profit education. 

I know that they were supposed to send me a form to fill out so that they don’t collect for a year because I’m not working, but no one sent me one. They (Great Lakes) sent me an email that my payments were due. But I haven’t called since. I called in February to let them know I wasn’t working, pretty much it would be some time before I could start making payments. The person I spoke with said they could send me a form, when I sent it back they could hold payments off for a year. I could get it three times over the course of my life. You get three times.

To be honest, I have no idea how much the monthly payment is. They haven’t told me how much per month. But I know it is over $4,000 in all – like $4,100 or something.  Two thousand of that is from the Art Institute and before it was $654 from Everest before but now it is like two thousand. I don’t know what happened but I think the Everest bill was raised.

They kept badgering me (Everest). At one point for just $654. I don’t how it raised up to over $2,000. Right now they are just sending me emails. Before it was phone calls. They were probably calling me about two to three times a week. I changed my number. I changed not just because of them but also because other people were calling. Some it was people that I didn’t want to talk to, also some nonsense from multiple calls about schools. Great Lakes was also calling about both of the schools. They sent me an email that they were going to take my taxes to pay off my debt. That was this year, in January and February. January 2nd. I did call them three times but they had me on hold.  

Everest was trying to get me back in to school. I just had to change.  “Come back and enroll again,” they said. That was last spring when they were calling me, about that time. Now Great Lakes is telling me that I owe four thousand dollars.

At the end of my pregnancy, but doctor requested that I sit down at work. I started back at Wal-Mart last spring and they terminated me in the fall. I had my baby about a month and a half later. A lot of people could sit down at work, but they [Wal-Mart] ended up terminating me because of job performance. I wasn’t supposed to be up, but I got up to help straighten up shelves. I was a cashier. I was an overnight cashier. I used to work from 2 pm to 11 pm but this time I was working from 10 pm to 7 am. I was getting paid $8.90, including 50 cents extra because I worked overnight. So I made about $350 per week. I had $107 per month for car insurance plus payments on my van. My payments ranged from $155 every two weeks. Every month it ranged from about $310 to $340. Then I had a phone bill, I had some bills to pay my mom at home. I had to pay her water bill and the rent was based off of what I was making. I was usually paying her about $150 for rent.

They cut off my food stamps last winter. It was while I was pregnant and then until my baby was about two months. When they finally fixed it, they gave me a little more, about $600. They were trying to catch back up from the months they missed. I think my caseworker messed up. I still have to buy things for my baby… I’m running out of diapers.

I am behind on the car note and so they already took it back. But I still have to make payments, because I didn’t call them to tell them to come and get it. It is classified as a voluntary repossession. They can’t sell the van for as much as I owe, then I will have to pay the difference. I already owed them $10,000.  But it could be even. It was a 2002 Chevrolet Venture van. It was running great, it had about 100,000 miles. They sold it to me for $10,000 but now I owe just $7,000. I don’t want to give it away. I’m looking for someone who is willing to take over the payments. For someone who wants something that won’t take a long time to pay it off. I bought it last year…I was paying bi-weekly payments. I was paying since last August 1st.