Degree of Debt: College grads with big debt but still no jobs

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 10 at 11:53 AM

SEATTLE - Sean Closson and Robyn Curtis are two college graduates that do not know each other, but they both know what it is like to carry the burden of college loan debt.

"For the most part the loans just started stacking up. Unfortunately, I have about $150,000 worth of school loans," Closson admitted.

Closson spent six years at a private college. He has his diploma, but he does not have a full time job.

"I have no vehicle. I actually sold it to get out here," said Closson.  

He moved from Maine three years ago, hoping to find graphic design opportunities in Seattle. Instead he has earned cash from about a dozen freelance art jobs. It's not paying the bills. He says collection agencies call every day.

"If I do answer the phone I have to tell them, sorry, I don't have any money to pay you guys right now," said Closson.
What worries him is he is not the only one on the hook. His parents co-signed on the college loans.

"There's a possibility that this could impact them in very serious ways, probably more serious than it could impact me because I really don't have anything that anybody could take away," said Closson.

College graduate Robyn Curtis does not have as much debt as Closson, but loans are a big part of her monthly expenses.
"My monthly payments are more than most people's mortgage," Curtis said.

Curtis says she pays $1,200 every month toward her college loan debt.

"I wanted to be a doctor of some sort. I always knew I wanted to be in medicine," said Curtis. "No one was in the position to help me financially."  

The Bellingham resident did not have any debt while she was in community college, but when she began her studies in natural medicine at a private college, grant and scholarship money quickly ran out.

"You don't want to stop so you have to take out loans, there is no other option," said Curtis.

On graduation day she had her diploma and more than a $100,000 in loan debt.

"It's just this huge weight and a constant thing. You are lying awake at night, and you are thinking I can't even begin to save for a house," said Curtis.

Adding to her money woes, she's yet to find a job that fully utilizes her degree. She said she is not giving up. She plans to open her own practice in a few months, offering natural medicine in Bellingham.

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