Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In A Van To Escape Student Debt

Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In A Van To Escape Student DebtBy the time Ken Ilgunas was wrapping up his last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo in 2005, he had no idea what kind of debt hole he’d dug himself into.

‘Paying back every dime’

He had majored in the least marketable fields of study possible — English and History — and had zero job prospects after getting turned down for no fewer than 25 paid internships.

He moved to Alaska and spent two years paying back every dime. Two and a half years after hitting the road, he made his final loan payment. With interest, he’d paid down $35,000. But he wasn’t ready to quit on his education just yet. He was determined to find a liberal arts program affordable enough to pay his way as he went. He settled on Duke, which charged about $2,500/semester.


‘Completely debt free’

When he found an ad for a $1,500 1994 Ford Econoline on Craigslist, he knew he was home. Luckily, he’d been assigned to a rarely-trafficked parking lot off campus. He could come and go as he pleased and no one noticed. The first few weeks were rough. Eventually, he got to work turning his van into a proper home. There was just one rule about his new lifestyle: Nobody could know about it.

He looked for odd jobs whenever possible, including working part-time tutoring kids at a local elementary school for extra cash. By his final semester, Ken had nearly made it. But he had just over $300 left to his name and still needed enough to last him a few months. So he turned himself into a lab rat for hire, volunteering in at least two dozen medical studies that paid $10 to $20 an hour for him to undergo cognitive tests, take experimental pills, and have his brains scanned in MRI machines. But it all paid off. He graduated in May 2011 — completely debt free.

Do you think you can pull off the feat that Ken Ilgunas did just to pay off his student debt? Feel free to share your insights with us!

Source: Mandi Woodruff | Business Insider, Yahoo Finance

Image: Salon

CEO: I May Fire My Workers If Obama Wins

David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, sent a surprising email to his employees Monday. It said that if President Barack Obama wins re-election and raises Siegel’s taxes, he will have to lay off workers and downsize his company – or even shut it down.

David Siegel is the man who, together with his wife, Jackie, built the largest new house in America, known as “Versailles.” They became symbols of outsized spending, debt and real estate in America. But when the company started buckling under $1 billion in debt during the crisis, the Siegels’ home went into foreclosure and was put up for sale. They cut back on the jet, took the kids out of private school and gave up some of their staff.

So why is David Siegel – a man who defined excess and debt in the 2000s – now saying that debt and spending are ruining the country?


I asked David during a phone interview last night, and he told me that this was about his workers, not himself. He said his own finances have vastly improved. He has paid off all of his major lenders. He said the loan for Versailles is paid off and he’s resuming construction on the home. He has learned his own painful lesson from the debt crunch. “We cut back, we’re lean and mean. That’s what the rest of the country has to do.”

Siegel said he’s not acting out of self interest, but for the interest of his workers. While Westgate has never been more profitable, the company has 5,000 fewer workers than in 2007. He said that if Obama is re-elected and imposes Obamacare and higher taxes, he may just have to let more of his remaining 7,000 workers go. He said he might even shut down the company.

Do you agree or disagree with David Siegel? Are you pro-Obama or pro-Romney?

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Nation of Change