I Want to Go Back to School to Be a Pharmacist and Find a Wife. – Jeff

“Dear Steve,

I owe at least $52,000 in credit card debt. I owe another $6000 in student loans.

I have an Associates Degree. I decided to go back to school to get a Masters Degree in Pharmacy. If I can’t get into the Pharmacy program, then I would get a Bachelors Degree and would like to go on to Grad School or some kind of Medical training.

Going to school is going to be difficult because I have been out of school for 10 years. I will need a lot of time to study, go to class, & get extra help. I will have Work Study starting in September. I can earn $2000 per academic year with that. If I get Summer Work Study, I can earn $4000 in the summer.

I will not be able to work any other jobs because of the study time needed. Work Study jobs may allow for some time for me to study while working.

I live with my father but he really can do very little. He is retired and he cannot get a job for medical reasons. He gets $1050 per month in Social Security. He has no assets. I have been paying the rest of the bills (about $1000 more per month) with my savings and credit cards.

I can’t do this anymore. My savings are just about gone and my credit cards have reached their limits because they almost all slashed my available credit. I just missed my first payment ever yesterday and will miss my first payment on another credit card today.

Our living expenses are slashed to the bone and have been for a long time. There is no living expense left to reduce. We live very poor. There are no friends or family that can lend us money or let us live with them.

I am not working because of my own poor health and I have no health insurance. I will get some health coverage at my school in September. I also have to take care of my father and the household. I have sold what possessions I can on Ebay, Craigslist, Flea Markets, & Yard Sales. I have little left to sell and cannot find any buyers for the remaining items I have.

Everyday I go to school and study math in the tutoring center. I need to keep doing this to prepare for my classes. I worry about affording living expenses and about emergency expenses like when something breaks like the car. It’s an old 1995 car that breaks down frequently. I have no money or credit to get a better car and could not afford the insurance on a better car.

How do I fix this situation? I have to go to school in September of 2009. I am getting financial aid. Also, I have to go for personal reasons. I think school will fix my life. The jobs I have had have not been good or high paying and I’m hoping school will change that. I need to feel proud of my job & need a job that provides great health benefits.

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Also I hope to meet my future wife at school. The only option I can see is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I have no assets. I’m worried about how the Bankruptcy will affect me getting a good job after graduation. How long should I wait to file Bankruptcy? I’m worried credit cards may file an adversary proceeding to say I did not intend to repay the debt because I’m still charging living expenses on the cards. Can I successfully file Bankruptcy myself in New Jersey and get my debts discharged? I can’t afford a lawyer.

I worry about being sued or having my pay garnished while I wait to file bankruptcy. I wish I did not make this mistake. My 1st credit card was sent to me my the alumni association before I started college. I got hooked on charging big expenses like medical and car repairs. When I lost my job, I used the credit card for living expenses.

You can answer on your site, but please email me your answer too so I don’t miss it.


Dear Jeff,

Well I can honestly say that I think yours is the first question I’ve ever had where someone said they wanted to go back to school to meet their wife. Okay then, i guess that is just as valid as many other reasons I’ve heard.

You also describe a downward spiral that has been going on for some time. By the time you are selling almost everything you can on eBay or craigslist to make ends meet, you are to soon be out of any options. Once everything is gone, it’s gone.

Going back to school is not a fix for a broken life unless you graduate and use your degree to accomplish more in your life. Only about 30% of students that start college, finish with a degree. The rest just have debt.

If you go bankrupt now it will not prevent you from access to government backed student loans. Your bankruptcy is not a factor in the approval process for such loans.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

The problem with student loans is that they are one of the most onerous debts a person can have. The default fee on student loans can be as high as 40% of the balance, tax refunds can be intercepted, federal benefits can be garnished if you don’t pay and payment time may be as much as 25 years. Student loans should be considered carefully before obligating yourself to them.

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From what you describe of your situation it seems that if you make the election to go back to school that bankruptcy is the best solution for you. You will need to visit a local bankruptcy attorney and do not file bankruptcy yourself. People that do this often make costly mistakes because they don’t know what they are doing.

The American Bankruptcy Institute provides a directory of pro-bono lawyers to assist consumers. You can see the map and list online here.

Myself and others will have a knee-jerk reaction to your question but really at the end of the day I don’t have a crystal ball to gaze in to to determine if this is the smartest move for you. Statistics say it’s not but I clearly sense you’ve already made up your mind and feel this is the best plan of action.

But I wonder if there isn’t a way for you to contact all the local pharmacies to find if there isn’t a part time job for you there since you are considering entering the field. A little on the job training and exposure to the field of pharmacy may be the most prudent approach before launching into a very expensive course of action.

Just in the past week I’ve had emails from people who went through law school and chiropractic school and no longer want to practice in those areas. They are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt with no career to fall back on. Am advanced degree alone is not a magic wand to a better life.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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