College Grad: ‘I Wish I’d Gone to Prison Instead’

Bob Sullivan, Red Tape Chronicles, May 12, 2009

Hernan Castillo is treading water, trying to survive under the weight of $5,200 in credit card debt and $30,000 in student loans. He’s making payments on time, but the Orange County, Calif., resident sees little hope for getting out of the warehouse job he holds and landing a job as an accountant, the field in which he earned his degree. And forget about saving money for a home or retirement. He now firmly believes the money he spent earning a college degree was a waste.

“Every day I wish I had never gone to college,” Castillo said. “It has been the biggest mistake of my life. 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.”

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Castillo, who is struggling under the weight of both credit card and student loan debt, wishes he knew a lot more about the system before he went to school.

He’s currently paying $300 per month on his student loans and about the same toward credit cards, but at 30, he feels he’ll never get ahead. There’s no hope of going back to school for retraining, and he’s already very worried about retirement.

“I wish I could go back in time,” he said. “When I signed those (loan) papers I never thought it would come to this point. I thought it would be easy to pay it back. I wish I had never gone to college.”

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