College Debt: What If I Had Not Gone to School? (VIDEO)

04/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I owe roughly about $40,000 is student loans. This includes interest.

This equates to about half of all my school expenses, which includes much more than tuition, room and board. Though I'm proud to say I earned or worked my behind off to get the rest, it's always embarrassing to talk about.

I'm an inner city kid from Cleveland, Ohio. I also ask too many questions, hence my passion for journalism, which I'm studying. Unfortunately, I didn't ask enough questions when it came to going to college. I did apply for several scholarships both before and during my college experience, but the whole picture has always been a fuzzy one.

The hardest part about owing so much is knowing I am judged for my decision to go to school. If I had not gone to college I would be considered another statistical waste of space. As I am ending my college journey, people knowing this figure would say I did myself in and deserve everything coming to me. My answer to that is yes, I did, and maybe. They don't realize I resorted to the loan route because I had to. Little did I know I would go through all sorts of trials, like having funds snatched from me (this year it was nearly $3,000 taken away due to state budget cuts to a NEED-BASED grant) and scrambling to find a solution.

Even though I'm not as financially sound as I'd like to be, my experience has taught me so many things. Being enormously frugal is one. I do have my two indulgences, a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, but that is all of the electronics I own. Whenever people casually ask why I don't have a car, I want to scream that it would be a luxury for me. The last time I was at a mall was a couple of months ago to see a $5 movie. Before then it had been at least a year. I've also had my fair share of semesters without my needed books for class. In making my dreams a reality, it's all worth it though. I'm simply in awe of the fact that some students are literally punished for wanting to aspire to anything.

Even though the last four years of my life have been a financial nightmare, I am grateful for the experience and wouldn't trade it for anything. I chose my school carefully; I wanted an institution with great academics. I'm literally paying the price, but nowadays that's the cost of success for people like me. Above all else, one of my top priorities is making my family proud and showing this wasn't a waste of time or money.