Dealing with culinary student loan debt and still work at a line cooks wage

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Whenever I hired I tried getting guys or girls with practical experience and 95 % was right in hireing. Most times when I hired from CIA etc. I was very dissapointed. They thouight just because the went there they were above the others. This proved wrong in majority of situations. I am not going by heresay, I am going by my experiences and my observations. It grew to a point that I would not hire them anymore.
 
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How can you say it doesn't promise you anything, but turn around and say it WILL get you places faster?

Will I pay thousands of dollars and learn a few techniques when I can get a job with a renowned chef who will teach me more in 6 months than anyone will in 2 years of culinary school and pick up the same exact books culinary students read? More than likely not because I can take advantage of all of the ''free'' education around me. By free, I mean I am getting paid to work, but learning at the same time and taking everything for what it's worth.
What RetreatChef posted is accurate. No culinary school is going to promise you any thing. There are no guarantees of success just because you attend school and graduate. Something like 60% of all culinary grads never spend a full year in this industry.  A degree will get you an advanced position faster on average. You can certainly make it with out a degree but the vast majority IME that think they have it all figured out and have found a way to "beat the system" by skipping school and doing the OJT route wind up spending their entire career as cooks. This industry is full of people 50+ doing the same thing they were doing 30 years ago and living pay check to pay check.  Surely some will make solid careers with out going to school but on average they will make  less $$ over their career. 

Having said that going to business school is not a bad idea but by all means do go to school!  ;)

Contrary to Ed's experiences I've hired many from the CIA. A few weren't worth the powder to blow them up and I have no idea how they even graduated. Most I've worked with went on to have very successful careers.

No offense to any one but IMO there's some seriously flawed math in this thread. You simply can't count net income when calculating an hourly wage. The Op said he/she is making $750 per week and they are averaging 67.5 hours per week. That's over $11 per hour. Not less than $8. Sorry but your going to have to pay taxes if your work...at least in the US. We also have no idea if the OP is getting insurance, 401K etc deducted from the gross pay.

Surely net income is what we all pay attention to however we have no idea WHERE the OP lives. In Fl that means to state income tax, in other states that tax could be very high. $11 an hour is a pittance in NYC and a killer wage in Iowa. So with out context it's quite hard to offer insightful financial advice other than to suggest living with in your means.

Student loans can be re-financed. Typically most have taken several loans so they have several payments. By re-financing that into a single payment it can greatly reduce the monthly burden. Also many lenders now offer a lower rate by a quarter to half % if you use auto-debit payments.

Dave
 
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 when I can get a job with a renowned chef who will teach me more in 6 months than anyone will in 2 years of culinary school
Schools are theoretically geared and set up to teach with education being the primary focus; whereas restaurants have production as the primary focus with education being a being a naturally occurring by product, so it seems to follow that in any set given amount of time, you will get more exposure to different recipes, skills, and techniques from school than working in a restaurant.
 
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Will I pay thousands of dollars and learn a few techniques when I can get a job with a renowned chef who will teach me more in 6 months than anyone will in 2 years of culinary school
With the way the industry is now, the degree is almost needed to get your foot in the door to learn from a renowned chef.  Some people may have connections and have an easier time of it, but it's very hard to get into top restaurants now if you have little/no experience, even if you are willing to work for free.  I dont really see a culinary degree as "an education" anymore as you really dont learn THAT much that is valid to the industry, but that piece of paper is still very important when you are trying to land those first few jobs that will shape the rest of your career.
 
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Schools are theoretically geared and set up to teach with education being the primary focus; whereas restaurants have production as the primary focus with education being a being a naturally occurring by product, so it seems to follow that in any set given amount of time, you will get more exposure to different recipes, skills, and techniques from school than working in a restaurant.
I agree and disagree. I can see working in a regular upper class restaurant preventing someone from learning all that they can as you would in school. However I work in a restaurant where the menu changes seasonally, we order any ingredients we want to work with, and I'm allowed to experiment with whatever I want. The only downside to that is there's only so much time in a day to try out multiple things. So I do agree if a person works in a restaurant where they don't have that accessibility I can see school being in their favor of learning. 
 
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Education is of value, for most individuals, if the knowledge and skill learned can be applied in some manner that earns $$$, whether the education is obtained in a formal school setting or acquired through an apprenticeship or learned through OJT.

Schooling, apprenticeship, or OJT  may impart knowledge and develop skills, but unless the knowledge imparted and the skills developed are seen by an employer as worth $$$ or can be applied to create a successful business where customers are willing to part with their money for the services or products provided, schooling, apprenticeship, or OJT is worthless.

A diploma, certificate, AA/AS, BA/BS, MA/MS, or even a PhD gains value only when the knowledge and/or skills acquired are put to use!

IMHO, a cook is a tradesman, a chef is a manager.

It does not make economic or financial sense to pay excessive $$$ to learn a trade.

For a cook to become a chef, one must learn personnel management, inventory management, business finance fundamentals, business law basics, and business management in addition to the trade skills of a cook.

Is it worth the money to learn to be a cook? Probably not.

Is it worth the money to become educated to manage some form of a culinary business? Probably.
 
 
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I had almost completely forgotten about this post. It turned up on a Google search. Anyway, things are not really any better. My girlfriend is in a similar situation as myself. Thank you for all of your replies. I have not left the kitchen yet. For the record, I didn't just jump into school with glorified Food Network thoughts. I had been cooking for almost eight years. I knew the reality of the work. When I started school I was given a large discount, but as new semesters began, it was "get a private loan or go home." Even my "estimated federal payments" where about 50% off. My words of advice, if you're a "rich kid" or your local government is going to pay your way like a lot of people I went to school with, go to The Culinary Institute of America. If you have little to no help like me, don't. In an attempt to better myself, I have destroyed what was once a pretty comfortable life.
 
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Also, as far as CIA goes, but I am not sure about other schools, African Americans and single mothers that I have spoken with about their debt got a lot of assistance and were not in bad shape.
 
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My last remarks for the time being are on two subjects. For the person who posted that most of the CIA grads they have hired have been a let down, I could not agree with you more. They hurt the reputation of my degree. I have coined them "CIA Brats" and I think that they make up the vast majority of grads, but there are still some great ones. I had to contact my boss many times to get a trail where I work now simply because he didn't want to hire a CIA grad. I proved myself and got the job, but my degree actually made it harder. Also, does anyone understand why big name chefs are not speaking out against the costs of these schools or starting some charities for relief? Instead they are promoting the schools, coming onto campus for demos and publicity shots, and even becoming board members?
 
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As I continue to read other people's posts, I have more that I want to say.  First let me start by saying that yes, I could make more money in management, but that is not what I put my life on hold to do. I did it to further my career as a cook.  The system is really messed up.  I had a very good education.  I am not sure if any other culinary school could have given me a better education.  I walked out with a lot of knowledge.  Some of the chefs are jokes and should be fired though.  I had one who gave the class a demonstration on tamales.  During the process, he cut himself and did not notice.  He continued to smear blood all over the masa.  Once he noticed, he simply washed his hands, put on a bandage, and continued the process of working the blood into the masa.  The problem, he tried to feed it to us when it was done!  So, there are flaws.  Lots and lots of them, but a lot of the chefs and professors are very skilled.  Maybe,  they would have a better staff if they didn't lock salaries while giving the president a 250k a year raise.  Which gets me to my point, the President.  Our first day we get a big lecture from super CMC PhD President Tim Ryan (who received a vote of no confidence and still remains).  It is referred to as "the carrot peeling attitude" lecture.  It consists of a lecture how once we are graduates, we should be more than happy to spend a year just doing menial prep work like peeling vegetables.  I could not agree more if your goal is to work in the best kitchens in the world.  The flaw, is that it isn't possible to attempt to take this path, the one most of us were there to achive, and work with the best chefs when you have to make enough money to pay huge loans if you aren't a "rich" kid.  This is a school that was created to out help veterans find work.  Do you think, that at this point, when tuition seems to rise twice a year, that they care about people who are looking for a good profession?  No.  Had I known all of this at the time of his "carrot peeling attitute" lecture, I would have taken my CIA standard issue peeler, the huge and heavy POS that it was, that would leave you with a toothpick of a carrot left, but it was fancy so they could charge us more for it, instead of a great $3 peeler, I would have thrown it at his head!
 
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 Remember school loans are NOT bankrupt-able so you can't file bankruptcy to get rid of them.

H
I know this post is about a year old 

but i just thought id throw this out there 

this is not exactly true 

you can put a Student Loan on a Bankruptcy 

however for the Court's to allow it you have to show it truly is a hardship 

and also you have to be able to show that you have at-least tried to pay and keep up weather this is always making a payment on time but just not being able to pay the proper amount 

say you have 1100 in student loan payment each month 

you make 1600 a month you spend 1300 a month  to live pay bills eat all that stuff 

you take the other 300 each month make your payment on time but just be short 

and then you show you have tried in good faith to deal with the student loans 

but you just can not afford it you show that you could end up being homeless or a true hardship 

then the court will allow 

a Student loan on a Bankruptcy 

i am just using this as an example I'm not suggested anything I'm just putting out the information 
 

squirrelrj

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Yea, it sucks. I went through it. You just have to trim down your lifestyle a bit. Get roomates, a bicycle, stop going out to bars,  etc. Also, seasonal resorts are good money savers. I worked at one in a tiny town, rented a 3 bedroom house with another seasonal worker on the cheap. $250 each (that included utilities). There was also a a couple bunkhouses available to for $5 per day. I did that for about  2 weeks, but it filled up with some real freaks when the busy season started.

Moving to a medium sized city helps also. I am about to move to a sous chef job at a private resort in a city population of about 250,000. Good thing about that is that working in from bigger cities, you will have more experience than most of the locals. You make more money, and rent is alot cheaper. Bad thing, is that you will mostly end up working with mostly ametures.

Or, do like a guy I went to culinary school with did. Just dont pay it and move to Texas. Apparently, Tesas is a debtors paradise. They cant garnish your wages, and the statute of limitations is only 4 years! Statute of limitations does not apply to federal loans however, only private loans. The majority of his loans are private though.

You could always try to move to another country. That is not easy to do though
Stealing from employers, and now justifying defaulting on loans, you're beyond a class act.
 

nicko

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Staff member
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I know this post is about a year old 

but i just thought id throw this out there 

this is not exactly true 

you can put a Student Loan on a Bankruptcy 

however for the Court's to allow it you have to show it truly is a hardship 

and also you have to be able to show that you have at-least tried to pay and keep up weather this is always making a payment on time but just not being able to pay the proper amount 

say you have 1100 in student loan payment each month 

you make 1600 a month you spend 1300 a month  to live pay bills eat all that stuff 

you take the other 300 each month make your payment on time but just be short 

and then you show you have tried in good faith to deal with the student loans 

but you just can not afford it you show that you could end up being homeless or a true hardship 

then the court will allow 

a Student loan on a Bankruptcy 

i am just using this as an example I'm not suggested anything I'm just putting out the information 
This is factual. If you can prove hardship then you can have the loans dismissed but it is extremely rare and also very difficult to do. In my opinion the amount of time you would actually need to prove this would create even great cost. Remember you have to pay a bankruptcy attorney in most cases. 

So can you put student loans on bankruptcy? Yes but only in rare cases. There is a good article about this on Nolo

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/student-loan-debt-bankruptcy.html
 
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Chasing your dreams could ruin your life, but this is what you have to do. At least you have to try, this is what happened to me when I was trying to achieve what I was dreaming about. It took me years to understand how should I do that, and the only one way was to try. I was dreaming about a small restaurant in my hometown and honestly I made it after years. I found a great credit offer that from a well known credit company that offered me the money I needed for a short time and with a small payment rate so I was able to rent a place where I could open my small restaurant.
 
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Chasing your dreams could ruin your life, but this is what you have to do. At least you have to try, this is what happened to me when I was trying to achieve what I was dreaming about. It took me years to understand how should I do that, and the only one way was to try. I was dreaming about a small restaurant in my hometown and honestly I made it after years. I found a great credit offer that from a well known credit company that offered me the money I needed for a short time and with a small payment rate so I was able to rent a place where I could open my small restaurant.

i mean i'd call half-truth on that. Chasing your (current) dream in a very naive way can ruin your life. like someone said back in 2010 or whenever it was - this could be avoided with the barest research upon entering this industry. There are other ways to learn how to cook, it might be a harder graft and there may be plenty of examples of "it turns out i actually learned what *not* to do". Youll take a slightly longer route getting to a position of strength, but hey..at least you arent in crushing debt
 
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in reply to a post by nebraskabeef which said "" 750 dollars divided by 70 hours, that's still almost 11 dollars an hour. I have never made that as a line cook, or now paid my line cooks that much. Must be in a higher cost of living area, I suppose."
The line cooks i work with make 14 minimum
nebraskabeef's reply was from 8 years ago
 
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With the Department of Education there is a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that will wipe out all student loan indebtedness after making small monthly payments for 120 months while working in public service, meaning military, law enforcement, education or non-profit. Perhaps you could find a cooking jobs in one of those fields. I work in corrections and have only four years to go on payments and wished I'd done this sooner.
 
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