$200K in debt for a BA

With $200,000 in student loans and a job as an office manager, Kelli Space, 23, has put up a web site asking strangers to help pay off her debts.  A 2009 graduate of Northeastern University, Space pays $891 per month on her loans and is supposed to start paying $1,600 a month in November. She lives with her parents, who aren’t able to help her financially.  So far, she’s received more than $6,000 in donations — and a lot of criticism for asking others to pay for her mistakes.

A sociology major, Space says she didn’t know how much she’d earn with a bachelor’s degree. Her parents, who don’t have a college education, couldn’t advise her.

We applied for scholarships during the summer but they heard — as much as I did — that cost of tuition should never keep you from attending a great school. So… we made the mistake of following such romantic advice. Cue regret.

In an interview, Space blames herself for a series of poor decisions.

The first mistake was not exploring all possible options. The second mistake was not understanding finance (best practices anyway). The third was signing on the dotted line! The next was staying at Northeastern even after I realized the gravity of the situation. Do I regret my education? Absolutely not. Do I think it was worth it? No – not because it was a poor education, but because no education is worth borrowing that amount of money without guaranteeing the salary to pay the loans back afterward.

OOTS News: To do things over again, what would you do differently?

twohundredthou: I would have gone to a community college and then applied to larger universities a year or two later. I would have been secure on a major before I chose to borrow such an exorbitant amount of money. The regrets are plenty, and I’m still working on that time machine.

Space says she’s not a deadbeat: She plans to pay off her loans over the next 20 years. At least she can serve as a warning for other naive students that a bachelor’s degree in a field without engineering in the title doesn’t guarantee a ride on the gravy train.

Currently, Northeastern, a private university, charges $49,452 a year for tuition, fees, room and board. Borrowers, beware!