I am still currently studying for my Bachelor's in Humanities at University Of Houston Downtown. I’ve had a work-study job at the O'Kane Art Gallery on campus as a gallery assistant for the past two years. My brother and I live with my mom and grandfather, who are both in poor health. My mother is on hospice from a catastrophic illness in 2010. My economic reality is that I barely scrape by every month. Before going to university, I didn’t come from money. I’ve always been low on the economic totem pole. All the money I make goes back into food, transportation and paying bills. The end of the month is a constant source of anxiety and a heavy feeling that, no matter what I do, it isn’t enough.
I never have extra money for art supplies. I use paint very conservatively when I do paint. I’ve also been painting on recycled wood and anything I can find. I work out of sketch books mostly as a way to get all my ideas down but then have to make a decision as to what I want to paint. It’s hard to relax and be artistic with the idea of student debt hanging over everything. The closer I get to graduating and thinking about going to graduate school or just trying to find a job, the choices seem limited to: (a) accumulating more debt or (b) starting to pay off the interest on the unsubsidized loans that are already accumulating.
I am currently in $51,156.00 worth of debt and climbing. I should be graduating by next spring, 2016. I got into debt because I wanted to go to College but didn’t have the means to support my endeavor. No one in my family had the money to support my endeavors for higher education. I didn’t graduate high school until I was 22, and didn’t start college till the age of 24. At 24, I was considered an adult eligible for full Pell Grant and loans. When I first received my loans, I didn’t truly think of the reality of having to pay them back. Approaching the age of 30 now, the reality of this debt is something I think of everyday. It’s going to affect my future and the way I live my life. But, without the loans, I couldn’t have branched out and gotten to the point I’m at. I hope it’s all worth it.