• Tue, Nov 23 2010

Interview: How Kelli Space Accrued $200,000 Of College Debt

Yesterday, we learned about a recent Northeastern college graduate who is almost $200,000 in debt thanks to exorbitant student loans. We had a few questions. So we tracked down Kelli Space to explain exactly how things got so bad for her.

Kelli is currently soliciting funds on a website called twohundredthou.com, since her loans have ballooned to a point she does not think she will ever be able to pay.

As far as we can tell, she is actually a 2009 Northeastern graduate. So far, she’s raised about $2k. But mostly, we were curious to see how her debts had spiraled so badly in such a short time. Lots of people take out loans to go to college. And they don’t end up with this much debt (especially just for undergrad.)

It all started when she got accepted to Northeastern. She knew she couldn’t afford the school, but went anyway:

“College had been held on a pedestal for so long that I was literally chomping at the bit to go to the best school that offered me admission – just like all my friends were doing. I’d never taken out a loan before. My first debt was student loan debt – no frivolous spending in any other aspect here. I was also pretty misguided as to what my salary would be upon graduation.”

Kelli says she’s the first person in her family to go to college. And admits that she did not do enough research before taking out large loans:

“I can blame teachers, my parents, anyone else, but honestly I should have done my research. I should have applied to more scholarships. I should have, I should have, I should have. I made poor decisions based on what I knew, or thought I knew. Five years later I absolutely regret what I’ve done and realize all the options I had at the time. If only I’d known then what I know now.”

One question is why admissions (and financial aid) advisors don’t advise kids more about what they can and cannot afford. According to Kelli:

“The only financial aid advisor I met with was at Northeastern during my visit, and she never once told me it was a poor choice. With her not giving me any sort of guidance one way or the other, and my Mom and I being elated about my going to college, I saw no reason to reassess my choice. Again, I regret it all.”

Right now, Kelli works as an office manager for a firm near Wall Street, and says she has a pretty entry level salary:

“I was definitely under the impression I’d have a better paying job after graduation. I don’t know why – but I was.”

The main issue is that she has already deferred her loans for two years. Starting next November, she will be expected to pay $1600 a month.  She says she’s “pretty much just in panic mode” until that point. Kelli says she will never be in debt again (if she gets out of debt this time). At the rate she’s making/getting donations, it might be awhile before that happens.

(Photo from ralph and jenny)

UPDATE: Kelli is now making some headway with her loans and working with a lending startup to help other students avoid her mistakes.

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  • Mike

    Um, what was he degree in?

    • Meghan Keane

      Sociology.

  • Kate

    Clearly not economics… or math… or anything useful. Why would you go to an expensive college and then become an office manager? Sounds like the money wasn’t even worth it.

  • Carlos

    There isn’t a college who can teach common sense and she OBVIOUSLY doesn’t have any…Foot the bill yourself !!!

  • Laura

    Typical: she “blames someone else” for NOT telling her how not to p*ss away a small fortune.
    She graduated from college and works near Wall Street and she never noticed that money doesn’t have instructions printed on it.
    Now she wants YOU to work and pay (donate) for her loans.
    Yuppy value system indeed. Entitlement gone wild. Twisted plea of ignorance.

  • Notmyrealname

    Some people have been asking on other sites what Kelli Space studied (and the answer is hard to find on the internet so I thought I would share it with you). She studied psychology, then marketing, then sociology (all in a the span of 4 years). Kelli lived away from home and only around 20,000 per year was for tuition the rest was spent on room and board. At least this is what Kelli Space claims in a radio interview that can be found at the following link: http://www.schiffradio.com/pg/jsp/charts/audioMaster.jsp?dispid=301&pid=51187

  • Jane

    Her parents are also to blame. My parents were very open with me regarding our financial situation. There is no WAY that I would have chosen to attend a school that cost 20-50 grand a year. I knew niether my parents or I could afford it. I don’t feel sorry for her in the least. When you take out a loan or charge something on a credit card you have to pay it back. How could her parents let their child get into that kind of debt? It is pretty sick if you ask me!! What kind of job did she think she would get with a sociology degree anyway? Good grief.

  • Rain

    She should have taken something practical like Economics or Accountancy. If she took either of these, I doubt if she’ll get a debt beyond $5,000.

  • msmerlin

    This girl wanted the education experience and didn’t care how she got it, as far as money goes. She didn’t regret it when she was spending like a Valley Girl. She just regrets it now that the time has come to pay it back. It’s time for the government to quit loaning ridiculous amounts of money for something that should cost 40k at the MOST. And it’s time for bright people who are smart enough to graduate from college to quit claiming they are so stupid that they made bad money decisions. She’s milking the public and crying victim pretty well; guess that’s what her college education taught her is to be a mooch on society. NEXT!!