Angela Gelso graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2008. The school is a public one, and Ms. Gelso, who is from Georgia, took a year off between high school and college to live in Massachusetts and become eligible for reduced in-state tuition. She attended without financial assistance from her family but says she was too young to declare herself financially independent and secure federal loans. As such, her total amount of loans upon graduation—private ones—came to $60,000, owed to Citibank. Now living in Brooklyn, Ms. Gelso works at Trader Joe’s and does freelance artwork painting murals at retail stores. She said she “barely” makes her payments. “I have terrible credit but I think I’ve just accepted that,” she said.
Last Sunday, Ms. Gelso was in Washington Square Park along with a couple hundred others for a speech by the political activist Angela Davis. Ms. Gelso said that she had attended Occupy events “several times,” and when asked whether her student debt burden contributed to her participation in the movement, she answered in the affirmative. “It’s a huge reason that I’ve been coming,” she said. “Because of my own story I’ve seen how it’s hard for people to get secondary education and how vital it is in our society.” Read More