You see, I had recently injured my back, I wasn't thinking as clearly as one ought to have been before making a decision that will irreversibly alter the course of the rest of one's existence. But I wanted to be self sufficient. And I had two young children and a wife depending on me to be breadwinner. And I knew that my physical limitations meant I'd have to do something differently, going forward.
I'd seen the ads on TV promising flexible schedules, so I went to see about the opportunity in person. I listened to the slick sales pitch, how it would all be manageable financially. How I would get a degree that employers were looking for. How it was an ever-growing field, with no slow-down in sight. How this was a path to self sufficiently.
And then I made the worst mistake of my life. I signed up for the drafting program at ITT Technical Institute. And I allowed myself to be saddled with $36,000 in tuition.
Early on, I got the inkling I'd been had. It turned out that classes started an hour earlier than was promised, which was a major issue for someone who worked eight hours and got off at 2:00 AM. I seemed to have limited aptitude for the technical part of the work. AutoCAD was familiar to most of my classmates, but we hadn't had it in my High School in the mid 90's. Despite the "flexible schedules" promise in the television ads, the classes were only offered for my course material at 7:00 AM. And the instructors kept making a point that if anyone left the program early, their loans would be due immediately.
In 2004, I got more of an inkling that I'd made a mistake when ITT corporate offices were raided by George W. Bush's Department of Education.
Despite these obstacles, I managed to muddle through, with the help of outrageous amounts of caffeine, and Graduated with a 3.42 GPA. Then I began looking for work in the industry. The trouble was, that despite the claims that the recruiter had made, there were didn't seem entry level positions that paid as well as what I was making as a janitor. My back had largely healed by this time, and I genuinely regretted my decision to attend.
Over a month after graduating, I finally found a position that paid a few cents more than my janitorial job. Unfortunately after going to school full time, and working full time, and being a parent part time, for over two years, I just didn't have enough left to learn this new position at the rate necessary. Add to this, that the chronic abuse of caffeine had left my attention span depleted.
It took over a year, but eventually my working errors caught up to me, and I lost that job. I got rehired by the janitorial company I had worked for before, and tried to put myself back together. The amount of credit card debt that my household had increased while I was attending ITT Tech, and this continued until we declared bankruptcy and my marriage fell apart in 2010.
And that's where this story gets it's title. Because whereas loans for for-profit colleges could have been forgiven under the bankruptcy code that was on the books when I entered school, by the time I had earned my degree a new law had passed.
TThe Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 passed a few months before I graduated. It included language that made my loans unable to be forgiven, even though at the time my other debts were being discharged, I was living poverty.
I lived in a studio apartment that I had had to clean up in lieu of paying a deposit. I ate mostly refried beans smashed between two corn tortillas and pan fried, because this cost less than $2 a day. I worked janitorial at a local university, and had to park off campus, because I couldn't afford parking fees. I still had back and other physical pain all the time. I had no credit. And I still owed over $20,000 to an entity that should have known better than to loan to a fraudulent predatory educator.
The truly unforgivable part, is that they knew that this fraud was going on when the law passed. I know that because I was attending when the corporate offices were raided. It can only be surmised that they knew this was an economic bubble that would pop, unless they sacrificed a generation of people to fix the mistake.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 enjoyed bipartisan support too. In fact, one of the Democratic Party candidates for the presidency in 2020 voted in favor of it, and one that doesn't have any plan to forgive or otherwise help out the victims of predatory educators:
So, regardless of who else is in the running for president, I can never vote for Joe Biden. Because like the worst mistake in my life has been for me, that vote is unforgivable.