THE BLOG

College Debt: Barely Getting By

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

I returned to college as a single mother of two small boys. I had been working as a self-employed hairstylist. I wanted to earn a college degree because I felt it would enable me to provide a better life for my sons and myself. During my second year back in school I was diagnosed with cancer. I had no health insurance or paid sick leave. I was forced to borrow the maximum amount of money allowed just to support myself and my boys while I was not only completing school but missing work in order to have cancer treatment. In spite of the obstacles, I managed to graduate in 2001 with a BS in microbiology. I have been working for the public sector in the environmental field since then.

My sons have grown up to be contributing members of society. My oldest graduated from college in 2008, and he's currently serving in the Peace Corps. His student loans are not as high as mine but he still had to borrow money to get through school. My younger son is in the process of enlisting in the Navy. Hopefully student loans will not be an issue for him.

I now have a 6 year old daughter to support. I also still have cancer. I have to travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for my medical care, a 12 hour drive one way. I have ever-increasing insurance premiums, high deductibles, and co-pays to contend with along with the normal costs of living life. Because I work in the public sector I do not have to worry about being denied coverage for the cancer, but my pay is low. My loans are currently in forbearance as the interest continues to accrue. I have absolutely no idea how I am going to manage to pay them back. I barely get by as it is. The stress is overwhelming at times. Sometimes I think my only answer is a miracle.