Skip to comments.Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In A Van To Escape Loan Debt
Posted on 06/09/2013 1:47:23 PM PDT by thecodont
By the time Ken Ilgunas was wrapping up his last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo in 2005, he had no idea what kind of debt hole he'd dug himself into.
He had majored in the least marketable fields of study possible English and History and had zero job prospects after getting turned down for no fewer than 25 paid internships.
"That was a wake-up call," he told Business Insider. "I had this huge $32,000 student debt and at the time I was pushing carts at Home Depot, making $8 an hour. I was just getting kind of frantic."
Back then, student loans had yet to become the front page news they are today. Ilgunas could have simply deferred his loans or declared forbearance. He also could have asked his parents (who were more than willing to help) for a leg up. He could have thrown up his hands and gone to grad school until the job market bounced back.
Instead, he moved to Alaska and spent two years paying back every dime. And when he enrolled at Duke University for graduate school later, he lived out of his van to be sure he wouldn't have to take out loans again.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Duke-Grad-Student-Secretly-Lived-In-A-Van-To-4587684.php#ixzz2VkomCLBJ
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
He’ll always be known as ‘the smelly one’ in class.
The primary reason these are the least marketable degrees is because of how they're taught. A rigorous history program should produce some of the best researchers and analysts. Similarly, a demanding English program should spawn some of the best writers. Both skill sets are highly valued in virtually any endeavor.
Mr. History major guy needs to man up and pay it down.
OK, I went ahead and read the article...I guess he did pay the loan off after all. But now it’s time to get a real job and a real house.
Good for him!
I am sick and tired about all the dam*ed propaganda in the mass media about student debt. A LOT of students have run up debt over the years to get through school.. and were ever so very very very thankful they were trusted by the banks (now, the govt since O seized the entire industry!)...
and most repaid their loans ... as they promised to repay them.
I can understand a lender giving a student a postponement in full or part if the kid can’t get a job upon graduation. HOWEVER, many graduates won’t work at all if they aren’t given zillion dinero jobs with all kinds of perks. Many of us in the OLDE DAYS repaid our student loans, sometimes with difficulty, even if we only got low-paying jobs. We just adjusted our cashflow to honor our commitments, is all.
NOW THEN, a quick aside.
A few years after my graduation, I was serving on a very large lender’s credit committee. Part of the duties were to interview customers or clients who wished to appeal any loan turndowns. I got the reputation of being “soft’ on smallish loans where there was a real need, such as emergency health issues (yes I know, adults should plan ahead.. but anyway I am just telling you the way I was). S, ON one of my days as chairman, in comes this nice young lady, a recent LAW SCHOOL graduate. Her credit score was south of 500, mostly because she has stiffed any and all lenders.. including several student loans, entirely. SO I was waiting for her to appeal to my “well known soft spot” ... indeed I tried to lead her there, asking if perhaps anyone in her family was experiencing any needs that maybe she was helping out with, etc... sort of pushing the envelope you could say, but trying to lead a horse to drink. Nope. Her explanation for not repaying thousands of dollars of student and other loans was...... are you sitting down?.... was...... (drum roll).....was.... “that I figured out that if I repaid my debts, it would lower my standard of living!!!!!!!!”
WOW!!!!! SUCH AMAZING BRILLIANCE we are graduating from our law schools!!!!!!
Anyway, she did not get her big loan for her new super-sized BMW luxury car.
(NOTE: my personal 15 +/- year old car, the one with the big ugly gash in the side, was parked in the lot as she walked into the bank.....but I DID repay my student loans!!!!!!!!!!!!! as did millions of other people.)
So you didn’t read the story?
He moved to AK for two years and paid it off.
I know a guy who parlayed his history degree into a very successful (and lucrative) job as a trader at the Chicago BoT. But then, that was back in the day.
Besides being a good researcher and writer, a student who does well in a competent college-level history and English program should have a good idea as to how the world works, how humans behave and what he should want out of life.
Liberal Arts is a SCAM; they say they’re helping you and imparting, but you know what? YOU ARE A SUCKER.
They’re milking you, and the ONE reason you are there is to provide artificial (read: subsidized) demand for some type of crap that the free market rejected.
It’s the exact opposite of what the profs tell you that it is.
There should be no such thing as gov’t-provided students loans for such pabulum, cuz it never enhances their earning power.
That, or such loans should be erasable via bankruptcy.
Thanks for your story.
“...and most repaid their loans ... as they promised to repay them.”
“We just adjusted our cashflow to honor our commitments, is all.”
Common sense and honoring one’s commitments weren’t so rare a generation or so ago, but these days, to see them is like finding rain in the desert.
I agree with this.
If done right a degree in History or English should be very marketable. The same is true of a degree in Philosophy which among other things teaches logical thinking.
The Left have ruined these degrees
What was the “secret” part about living in his van, and was it to save money, or “escape” something?
American media seems to be getting more tabloid like all the time.
Liberal Arts are a waste of time. Might as well join the military. Learn some self-respect, and get tuition help.
See post #7
I tell you though, sometimes I wonder if these colleges are price gouging the hell out of students. You can give the argument “Well people don’t have to go to College” Yes, and they don’t have to drive as well, but when a gas station price gouges, every politician in NYC (especially Chuck Schumer) is holding press conferences in front of the gas station screaming how he is going to fine the gas station out of business.
Yes I know these schools need to make a profit, but I look at a school like NYU here in New York city who I learned is *the* largest real estate owners in the entire New York city area and for the past few years have been driving out small businesses by raising their rents through the roof which is why you now see high end fashion stores all over the place like Little Italy, Greenwich village, SoHo. I couldn’t believe how many till I went down there last year, Bleecker street looks like Rodeo drive now and I find it funny coming from such a “capitalism is evil” liberal school such as NYU. They’re typical libs, corporations “are evil” yet they are the ones doing the very thing they claim “evil corporations”. How many jobs has NYU created? To me all they seem to be doing is putting people out of business.
taking liberal arts is NOT a waste of time.
I was forced into taking lib-arts core in college and had no idea what ‘physics’ was. But I had to take it, and so...
Next think you know I scrapped everything and started a full bachelors degree in physics. I never would have known how F@#$ing cool it was unless they had made me take it.
But was it in a van down by the river?
Excellent skits - among the best.
yes some colleges do charge more than they are worth.
so do some groceries
‘i don’t choose to partronize those ‘Whole Paycheck” groceries
When the University learned of the situation, they clarified that such was not to be allowed. By maintaining a low profile, he escaped the consequences of doing something that he was sure would not be approved or tolerated.
I type slow :(
Yeah, $32,000 in student loans is relatively small, compared to the debt that some students are carrying. I remember reading about a young woman who earned a BA in Sociology at Boston University, and financed her education with student loans. After four years at that school, her student loan debt was $200,000.
The good news is that emerging market forces will begin to lower tuition costs—for students willing to look for affordable programs. One case-in-point is the $7,000 M.S. in Computer Science that Georgia Tech will begin offering later this year, in conjunction with AT&T and other partners. Texas also has several bachelor’s programs (offered through state schools) that leverage community college credits. Students in those programs can earn their bachelor’s for $10,000.
I didn’t see that in the article, where is it?
I like how Duke banned future possible van-living endeavors. How very tolerant and understanding of them.
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss liberal arts. We need them to learn about our culture. In English you learn to communicate and construct logical arguments. History is important - if you don't learn it, you'll repeat it. In both of these majors, you learn there's nothing new under the sun, from Greek history to Greek plays, that human hubris and foibles have been with us from the beginning of time. Why do you think Common Core wants to do away with literature and replace it with technical reading? Dumb them down until they don't remember what freedom was and destroy all vestiges of Western culture. Unfortunately the revisionist history being taught now is helping to destroy the culture as well.
You apparently did not read the article...he paid it off, every last stinkin’ dime. And he was not employed in any kind of a high paying job, like you probably are.
Why can’t he teach high school History or English? Teaching pays well, I hear. Someone who loves History or English enough to major in it would seem waaaay more qualified than an ‘education’ grad, I would think.
And studying English and History should give one a deep and widely useful understanding of Man.
Propaganda, though, gives one less than nothing.
SUCH AMAZING BRILLIANCE
Not to mention lack of moral compass.
English and history are great, but what kind of job did he THINK he would get with a BA?
And finally I must have missed the ending. What has he been doing for the past 8 years? Besides writing a book?
well, if they didn’t learn any morals from the parents (and many didn’t)
and they didn’t learn any morals from their churches (and many churches are now preaching just the opposite of morals)
they sure won’t learn any morals from (maybe 90% ) of their professors on today’s anti-American,anti-Christian, anti-Semitic campuses (campii?)
Yes, you must have missed the ending, because the article clearly explains the chronology. Go to the Business Insider link and they have pictures.
I did the same thing when I was in graduate school. Had a second battery just to run the electrical gadgets, comfortable bed, stereo, heater, and it was well insulated.
Parked the van next to the sports fieldhouse where I would shower, use the spa and sauna, and swim every morning.
I often joked that I have slept in the parking lots of some of the most expensive hotels in the country!
How many are living in Vans because they have no money?
I would point out that a degree in applied mathematics is usually a Liberal Arts degree. Most people with that degree can land a whole range of jobs.
Not that I advocate taking out loans for college. I have never done so and generally have parlayed my contract into have my employer pay for my college credits.
I personally know a guy who was an English PhD candidate at a top state school in the Southeast. Old school English type, not a modern politicized English major. As a result of this, he was seen as an extremist right winger, despite the fact that his politics are very much middle of the road.
He gave it up because he could see the writing on the wall, that the whole system of “English” at the college level was stacked against white males. Due to some personal success in the stock market, he was able to get a job as a stock analyst. He has been *very* successful in a relatively short amount of time, and his writing skills are an important part of the reason (along with the fact that he works his tail off).
The non-STEM university system in this country needs to be completely dismantled.
See my story just above. This is much more recent, in the last 8-10 years.
While I agree with the issues you bring up regarding personal responsibility, the “system” wasn’t playing our young people as “marks” (in the carney worldview) at that time, either. Turning our young people into indentured servants to the government is not going to end well.
Colleges weren’t so insanely expensive, either.
There is lots of blame to go around.
Totally in agreement with you here.
Why do you think Common Core wants to do away with literature and replace it with technical reading? Dumb them down until they don't remember what freedom was and destroy all vestiges of Western culture.
Hirsch's book Cultural Literacy (associated with Common Core?) came out in the mid 1980s.
Unfortunately the revisionist history being taught now is helping to destroy the culture as well.
Deconstructionism was already being taught in the English Department when I was a undergrad. :(
Unless I’ve missed something badly, Physics is *not* Liberal Arts according to most.
I agree that it can’t end well for anybody to be indentured (or enslaved) to the government.
It also can’t end well if the way out is for that government to “forgive” the borrowers’ debts.
O had NO justification to seize and nationalize 99 percent of the student lending market in America. Except for political control of the American people, of course.
Having said all that, students need to be responsible and not run up huge debts (owed to anybody) at expensive colleges when they could get similar (and in some instances better) educations at far less costly schools. Again, a student can pay (in tuition fees) anything from $1400 to about $5o,ooo for each of the first two years. There are some pros and cons for each, with (for most students in most programs) neither being clearly superior ... It is similar to grocery shopping. I visited a famous Whole Paycheck grocery about 12 years ago and walked out when I noticed their prices, like carrots for Eight Dollars a Pound.
If I can afford to throw my money away needlessly at those high prices, find and dandy that’s my free choice.
If I cannot afford to throw my money away, then it is my responsibility to go buy my carrots down the street at the usual 39 cents a pound, instead.
What is NOT right is for me to run up a zillion dollar debt buying the eight dollar carrots, and then complain I am burdened by being in debt.
All my best,
Yes, it is a sad state of affairs....
see 2007 post on this guy:
one science elective