Student loan horror stories

Big decisions made in college about student loans continue to haunt these graduates.

This couple owes $380,000

student loan debt lisa and heather harden stone
  • Name: Lisa and Heather Harden-Stone
  • School: Brooks Institute and Dowling College - 2010, 2011
  • Student loan balance: $380,000 combined

The Harden-Stones don't believe they will ever earn enough to pay off their student loans.

Heather (on the right) got her masters degree from Delphi University in environmental studies in 2010 after an undergraduate degree in anthropology from a private college in New York. She works as an environmental scientist and still owes $80,000 for her entire college education.

"I really had no idea of the true cost of college. I just signed what I needed to sign and had no idea how much in loans I was taking out," she said.

Lisa, left, racked up most of her $300,000 in loan debt from going to Brooks Institute, a top school for photography in California. Upon graduation, she discovered she'd never make enough money from photography to pay her loans. So, she got her MBA in marketing from Western International University and recently got a full-time marketing job.

"I just got caught up in the whirlwind of borrowing and borrowing and borrowing just so I could graduate," she said.

Brooks Institute responded that the total cost of tuition and fees to achieve the same degree is estimated at $80,569 today and that it was significantly less when Lisa Harden-Stone graduated in May 2008.

- Last updated October 15 2013 05:02 PM ET

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