As she applied to colleges in the late 1980s, life looked rosy for Sandra Garcia, who was in the top 10% of her high school class.
But after her father became disabled following an accident at his construction job, Garcia, the oldest of her family’s eight kids in Fort Worth, Texas, found herself working three jobs to help support the family while attending college part-time in fits and starts. She took 12 years to earn her business degree, then four more to get her master’s, both from Texas Wesleyan University – the first in her family to accomplish both.
Unable to rely on her parents, she often didn’t know how she was going to make it. Apply for loans, people told her. It will all work out. As the loan interest accumulated, Garcia found herself six figures in debt.