This is the apotheosis of student loan horror, a ghastly tale of a woman ensnared by insidious higher education policies and bad personal decisions. No, her alma mater won’t soon feature her unreal story in the “Where Are They Now?” section of its fundraising promotions.
I’m referring to the catastrophic misfortunes of “Lisa,” outlined in this Forbes article. An art school graduate who thought that she needed more credentials for a better paying job, she enrolled in an MFA program at the University of Southern California.
But she soon realized that even that credential wasn’t enough to make ends meet. With outstanding student loans and dead-end jobs on the horizon, she opted to enroll at Pepperdine Law School. Managing her child and other distractions, she graduated in the middle of the pack in 2009, but she faced a slumping legal job market.
Her total student loan tab at that point was $275,000. She had to spend an additional $15,000 to take the state bar exam, which she passed. But the cost of living in California proved too high, so she moved to Minnesota. Then she had to take that state’s bar exam, which meant that she couldn’t work as an attorney for a year.
During that period she amassed $40,000 of credit card debt, took an adjunct law teaching gig, and worked at odd jobs to support her son.
Lisa and her child are now on food stamps, and she’s making about $20,000 per year as a solo practitioner. Her debt has placed her ambitions of starting a family and getting married on hold. “I do feel like the key decision that has harmed me was to try to get to the advanced [degree] level,” she says. “I will likely die before I repay this debt.”
Happy Monday Morning!