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December 11, 2009 3:19 PM Student Lives in Van to Avoid Debt

By Daniel Luzer

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Duke University graduate student Ken Ilgunas is saving on living expenses by simply not renting an apartment. Ilgunas, 26, sleeps in a 1994 Ford Econoline van. The student’s vehicle has no running water so he showers in the campus gym and cooks with camping gear.

Ilgunas decided to live in his van in order to avoiding incurring any additional debt. He assumed some $32,000 in student loans while earning his undergraduate degree at SUNY Buffalo.

“Our first concern is for his health and safety, and we offer guidance and counsel to help him transition to a new home,” said Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld about Ilgunas. But Ilgunas appears to have no interest in “transitioning to a new home.” Nor is Duke going to force the issue; the school has no rules requiring its graduate students to have normal housing.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer