MACHIAS — Douglas Haig, 32, studied for five years at Pratt Institute, an art school in New York City that costs about $45,000 a year in tuition and fees.

He never graduated, though, because he switched between majors and had to take additional courses.

“I didn’t have any guidance. I didn’t know what to shoot for,” Haig said.

The Florida native became fed up with the cutthroat atmosphere at the school and quit to become an independent artist.

But without connections in the art world, he struggled to pay his bills and ended up joining the Army as a medic, serving between 2007 and 2012, including a 10-month tour in Iraq in 2010.

He’s studying art now at the University of Maine at Machias, his tuition paid for by the Army, and will graduate this year.

However, he still owes tens of thousands of dollars in college loans. He doesn’t know how much he owes, and doesn’t know how he’s going to pay the money back.

He just knows this much: “I am going to be in debt for the rest of my life,” he said.

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