Blue-Collar Student Debt Trap Snags Unwary Truck Driver Trainees

Add Jim Simpson’s story to America’s heap of crippling student debt and tarnished hopes of a brighter future. 

For truck drivers.

Simpson, 51, was working as a clerk in his wife’s office in Alabama to make ends meet and looking for a new career. Then his wife retired, slashing their household income. He was “dead broke,” he said, when he saw a trucking school ad in 2014:

No experience? No problem! Get paid to train. 

CRST International, a transport and logistics company, was promising a career in an industry with steady work and a “huge sign-on bonus,” Simpson said. That November, he jumped on a bus to join an eight-month CRST work/training program in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the company’s base. He lasted a month. 

It was “brutal,” he said. “I don’t think they did background checks on some of these guys. They didn’t really prep you for the [commercial driver’s license] test. There was



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