Graduating Into Debt - Part I
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Graduating Into Debt - Part I

I studied beautiful literature, absolutely brilliant minds. I made strong relationships, relationships that will not go away. I mean those are wonderful experiences. It’s a shame that I paid sixty thousand dollars for them.

Still working a bit or we all set.
Absolutely, may a wrap it for you?

Main street in New Paltz, New York is a typical state school campus town. It’s lined with café’s, music stores, and boutique shops, places that have traditionally offered part time jobs and pocket cash for students.

But after years of tuition hikes, fee hikes and high unemployment college graduates like Dana Caraco are now clinging to these jobs as they struggle to pay down daunting amounts of student debt.

I work three jobs. I work thirty-five hours a week here at this restaurant. I’m a freelance tutor, I do some free-lance editing and in the nice weather I work as a landscaper.
New Paltz is a magical place and I didn’t quite think in terms of money when I came here, I thought in terms of experience and beauty.
I studied English, I didn’t understand what sixty thousand dollars was. Imagine mortgaging a house before you’d even purchased your first car. That’s what it’s like.
I recently had the terribly humiliating experience of having my loan companies call my co-signer, an aunt, you know when she got that call she just sort of immediately thinks, well Dana’s floundering.

I kind of ignored the fact that I was going to have to pay back off these loans. I didn’t pay attention to the amount. Because I knew I needed to do it in order to graduate college and thought that was the most important thing.

Because my mom told me when I was younger, you have to go to college, you have to graduate, so I figure I have to do anything I can in order to graduate college, and now this is where college got me. So it kind of set the tone for the rest of my life.

When Rachel Bron transferred from her Long Island community college to study business at SUNY - New Paltz she owed ten thousand dollars in student loans. She later changed her major to art history.

And then I took a drawing class just for fun any my professor kind of pushed me into making a portfolio and trying out for the art school. I didn’t think I’d get in and I did.

By the time she graduated in 2011 she was seventy-five thousand dollars in debt. They were the first college to respond to me that accepted me in the business program and they were so cheap so I figured, you know, I’m gonna be saving a lot of money.

They weren’t much more expensive than my community school that I’d been going to it was about another grand. But then you know I didn’t count in the three thousand dollar meal plan and the two thousand dollars you’ll be paying for supplies and books and all that.

I don’t know how half these people will get through. And now with the economy as it is I’m scared for the students that are going to school now Cause a lot of people I know are going to graduate school  because they can’t pay their loans so they’re just going to be in even deeper.

I didn’t qualify for a lot of financial aid because my parent’s made like fifty dollars over the cap. So they just told me, oh you don’t get anything. So I had to take out all private loans under my own name.

And right now I pay about six hundred dollars in loan payments a month, in another month is will be up to eight hundred dollars and in about three months after that it will probably be over twelve hundred dollars.

I look at this every morning just to remind myself I can do it. It’s the perfect tattoo for inspiration.

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