Anguiano ended up applying for scholarships and filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). “As a 17- or 18-year-old, I'm like, I don't know anything about taking out a loan, but I'll be fine. I'll be able to pay it off.
” While signing up was easy, everything that came later felt almost unbearably hard. Her freshman year, she acquired between $15,000 and $16,00 in loans. The next year, she accumulated another $13,000 or so, and the same was true of her junior year. “No light bulbs went off during those years, I thought everything was going to be okay,” she recalls. “And then senior year, it hit. That’s when I started getting emails that asked me to fill out forms and figure out my exit plan. I was going to have to start paying soon.”
That last year, Anguiano received less money in subsidized and unsubsidized loans when she filled out the FAFSA, but she still needed to finish her degree. She ended up signing up for what was called a Perkins Loan, which was administered by her school and had higher interest
at the time than regular federal loans. “I honestly have no idea to this day what it is that I signed up for,” she says. “I just knew that I needed $16,000 to finish off the year’s worth of tuition.”