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Thread: Grad student lives in van to avoid student loans

  1. #1
    Member MacGuffin's Avatar
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    Cool Grad student lives in van to avoid student loans

    Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt {link}

    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."

    ...

    The first few weeks were rough. "By the time I bought the van, $2,000 was gone," he said. "I knew it was going to be tough because I still had car insurance, gas bills, a cell phone, and food to buy. Those first few weeks, I was almost starving myself to spend as little money as I could."

    Eventually, he got to work turning his van into a proper home. "Over time, it became a mini dorm room," he said. He took out the back row of seats, which left plenty of room for "furnishings." He used a plastic bin to store food, supplies and school materials.

    ...

    He kept a headlamp charged up and ready for late-night study sessions. He joined the campus gym for $34/semester, which gave him a place to shower. He gathered drinking and cooking water there, too.

    ...

    All along, he was inspired by Henry David Thoreau's solitary lifestyle in the woods. "I was inspired by the very idea of turning the wildest figments of your imagination into something real and creating a life for yourself."

    "The van was more than just a way to save money. I wanted it to be an experience, to see how little I could spend. I didn't want to be borrowing money from my parents any time I had a hardship."
    I could maybe do it... in grad school. I can't imagine spending 4 years at a university living like that.

  2. #2
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Meh, there are worse ways to live.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    And my parents always said if I didn't go to college I'd end up living in a van.

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    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    He took loans he didn't need to major in something that wouldn't get him a job after graduation, what did he think was going to happen?
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

  5. #5
    Member mthomps's Avatar
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    Good for him. I wish I had those guts. I'm the fool skip describes and I didnt even finish undergrad.

  6. #6
    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    I hope he really loves history and English, otherwise that's just a damn sad story.

  7. #7
    Member mthomps's Avatar
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    Thousands of others have the same story. they just have much less initiative about getting in done. I have 3 close friends in insane debt with degrees that don't matter.

  8. #8
    DOA Space Invaders Champion Neville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skip View Post
    He took loans he didn't need to major in something that wouldn't get him a job after graduation, what did he think was going to happen?
    He'd walk into a promise land of jobs.

    He held up his end of the bargain shoveled down his throat his entire life. Too bad society didn't.


    ~disgruntled historian

  9. #9
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    This got mentioned at Central a while back. If you want my opinion here, this is mostly just a silly stunt. I could go on a whole extended rant about middle class people engaging in poverty tourism, but I think I'll skip that. (Suffice to say, he still doesn't know shit about the lives of people who are not homeless by choice, and he has nothing to teach anyone about "financial literacy" or anything of the sort--he's a pretentious kid doing this to get attention which he doesn't deserve.)

    I'm in more debt than him and I long ago just sort of made peace with the idea. I would do things differently if I could, maybe, but I don't want to devote my life to regretting things I can't change. I'm also not inclined to sacrifice things I would otherwise do in an effort to pay down my debt faster. That sounds worse than being in debt. I'm going to look for jobs I want, defer my payments when I can't make them, pay them when I can, and generally not put the interests of a bunch of bankers who were all too happy to lend me the money in the first place ahead of my own happiness. I haven't checked my credit score in a long time and don't really care to, since college is the only thing I've ever borrowed a large amount of money to consume.

    College is fucking expensive, more so because the economy is fucked and the people who are theoretically supposed to be coming up with ways to un-fuck it can't come up with anything better than telling everyone to go to college. It's all a big shit show, and I fell for it just like so many others. But, you know, c'est la vie.

    White people problems.

    EDIT (crossposted):

    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post

    He held up his end of the bargain shoveled down his throat his entire life. Too bad society didn't.
    This. So much this.

  10. #10
    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post
    He'd walk into a promise land of jobs.

    He held up his end of the bargain shoveled down his throat his entire life. Too bad society didn't.


    ~disgruntled historian
    So basically what you're saying is that he heard "go to college to get a good job" and without doing any further thinking on the subject wandered through four years of school without considering that he would eventually have to pay back the money he was borrowing and actually do something that someone would want to pay for when he was done. That would certainly be quite a bargain.

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