Debtor grad: ‘I wish I’d gone to prison’

Going to college was “the biggest mistake of my life,” says Hernan Castillo, who’s paying off $30,000 in student loans and $5,200 in credit card debt.  The 30-year-old California man earned an accounting degree but can’t find a new job, so he’s still working at a warehouse. From MSNBC:

“Sometimes I wish I had gone to prison instead of college. At least I would have learned a trade or two and started being independent once I got out.”

Via Parentalcation‘s Rory, who points out that the military offers debt-free training and college benefits.

My daughter’s friend, a former acountant about to complete a prestigious law school, has been looking for work in either field. Nobody’s hiring. She plans to work for free at a legal aid clinic specializing in helping debtors. Her husband, who got a good job before the crash, will pay the bills.

College students are running up more credit card debt, says a Sallie Mae study. Only 17 percent pay their bills in full each month; the rest are paying sky-high finance charges.

(Graduates) are entering the toughest job market in years. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that only 20 percent of 2009 graduates who’ve applied for jobs have been hired, compared to a success rate of 51 percent in 2007.

In July, a new federal program will let graduates in public service jobs such as teaching cap federal loan payments at 15 percent of their income.

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  1. The article did not identify the college that Mr Castillo attended.


  2. The new public service program heavily penalizes married folks.

    If you file your taxes as married-filing jointly then your spouse’s income is included in the amount calculated. When this is done your payment is substantially the same as before the program.

    If you chose to file married-filing separately then you and your spouse are ineligible for substantial tax benefits. Ironically, one of the benefits lost is the student loan interest deduction.

    Sadly, it’s a poorly designed program. But, with luck, they’ll fix the bugs before next tax season.

    I work as a public defender. My college loans for undergrad, master’s, and law degree total around $120k. Compared to many, all things considered, this is a pretty reasonable amount. I’ve told my boyfriend that I can’t afford to marry him.

  3. SuperSub says:

    I have no pity for Hernan… anyone who willingly enters into a $30,000 debt without some certainty of income is foolish.

    College is overrated.

  4. Bu why does he have so much credit card debt? That accounting degree didn’t seem to sink in, if compound interest has evaded him.
    On the other hand, he’s only 30. He could still set up a Ponzi scheme and fulfill his dream of incarceration.

  5. Based on the article, I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for Hernan or not. While I’m a little surprised that someone who graduated at 30 has that much debt (as that sort of suggests that he went part time while working), it’s certainly possible.

    But what the article doesn’t mention, and what Hernan seems not to realize, is that there are are several different options for dealing with student loans. The most obvious would seem to be the income contingent payment plan. Also available are income sensitive repayment plans, graduated repayment plans, consolidation plans…and probably a few others.

    Most of these plans would help him out considerably, at least in the short to medium term.

  6. Hernan seems a little bit optimistic about the world of opportunities available to parolees and ex-cons.