Richard Green graduated from high school 20 years ago, eager to get a college degree in computer science and launch a career.

So when a recruiter from what was then DeVry Institute of Technology told him he could finish his bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four, he signed on. “You want to be something by a certain time frame,” said Green, of the Chicago suburb of Matteson.

But that decision ended up long delaying the independence Green sought.

Green, 38, just this summer went through the graduation ceremony at Prairie State College, an area community college, posing for a photo in his cap and gown draped in more than a dozen honors medals and stoles.

He is proud of his accolades. But he also says he is on food stamps. He still has two classes to finish to get his degree and juggles school with part-time jobs at GameStop and overnight shifts at 7-Eleven.

As Green continues to pay down federal loans he took out to attend DeVry, the life he hoped to jump-start still struggles to get off the ground.

“I shouldn’t have to go through all that trouble just to get to where I need to go,” he said.

(Next page: How a lack of information trips up lower-income students)

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

Add your opinion to the discussion.