Hi All, this is probably more for me than anyone else, but maybe if someone can learn from my situation, they can prevent it for themselves.
I've been on this forum since before I got my LVN back in 2003. I was 20 at the time, and my parents basically said "You have a year to have some sort of career figured out, and then you are on your own." I was a good student and worked full time, but because I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take in college, they basically forced a decision for me. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I suddenly had a year to figure out how to support myself and streamline some sort of career. Since we were in the midst of a major nursing shortage, I live in California where it's expensive, I decided I'd get my LVN at a trade school, since a community college was going to take significantly longer for a year for me to finish, and I didn't have that much time.
17,000 dollars and a year later...I was an LVN with lots of job opportunities.
I moved in with my boyfriend, life was good, I kept taking prereqs for my RN at the community college. However, instead of being thrifty and focusing on paying the debt off. I went out and had fun with my friends, I was 21, it was supposed to be a fun time. I only managed to pay off about half of it. so still had about 9,000 of the debt.
I finished my prereqs, applied to a couple community colleges, but I didn't realize how hard it is to actually get a spot in a Comunity College at an LVN to RN program. I actually got a job at a Cal State in 2006, and decided since the school was free for me, to take the additional prerequisites and just go there.
2007, we were doing really well financially, but living in a horrible apartment, very cheap, but a bad area. I decided it was time to buy a house. Everyone kept telling us to because prices were only going to go up and up. Mind you, we'd only ever paid 600 a month for this crap apartment and that included utilities. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, not how much more utilities would be with a 2000 dollar house payment. But hey, 2007, height of the market even tho we were told buy now.
Jan 2008 - accepted to the BSN program! Absolutely excited, know it's going to be hard to balance the job with part time hours and the school, I was able to make it balance for about one quarter. Then, my husband started getting his hours cut more and more, we couldn't even afford the house payment. I had a bad feeling. I was right. I got accepted to a private ADN program in northern California, I would be done 01/2009 or I could stay in the BSN program where I could no longer balance my job and was going to have to pay out of pocket and be done in 12/2010. 2 years difference, and with money so tight it made sense....35,000 more in debt, on top of the 10,000 I acquired at the BSN program trying to use student loans to pay a mortgage. Plus still the 9,000 from the LVN.
Finish the ADN program and so grateful I did it, my husband got very ill in the middle of it, and we had to stop making the hosue payments and walk away. It was inconceivable with a husband on disability and me so close to getting my RN to having any other choice.
After the ADN I was able to get a job in a New grad program in ICU, very very lucky. I went back to work, but decided, I had already done so much of the work for the BSN...why not finish? I had no money saved up and had to take out more loans to finish, about another 20k, but hey, they say there's so few jobs, and a BSN makes me more marketable.
So at this point:
9000 for the LVN
35,000 for the RN- ADN
10,000 plus then another
20,000 for the same BSN program
It makes me sick at night, there's so many things I could have done differently. When I was an LVN I could have paid off at least that 9,000 dollar loan, and maybe had some money saved towards the ADN. I definitely should have NEVER tried to buy a house, that would have saved me some of that debt. I could have waited a year to go back for my BSN and at least use tuition reimbursement for an employer. I probably should have sucked it up longer at my first job and been able to at least have tuition reimbursement for part of it the second year of the program.
In any case, that's the disgusting amount I owe, and I hope my "rant" can make someone else realize, the debt isn't always worth it. Honestly, I still do not regret the expensive ADN program, as my husband and I would have been in a much worse situation if I hadn't done it. Supporting two on an LVN salary in California would never have cut it. I just feel like had I made some significantly different decisions, the amount could be much less.
Open to any and all suggestions, at this point, I'm looking desperately at the local VA to see if maybe they have some sort of job that would at least allow some loan reimbursement. The one concern I have is it's a paycut from what I make now, and I am barely scraping by.
Our other problem is I'm trying to support my husband through a career retraining because he can no longer work in his prior field of truck driving with his health condition. Can't really drive a truck for 15 hours with arthritis. And we have no family nearby and the surprise bundle of joy we had last year gets expensive with babysitting.