‘Anything Beyond That Would Have to Be Covered by Me’

If you were lucky enough to go to college or grad school, someone paid for it—your parents, grandparents, yourself, the state, the school, a scholarship. We’ve invited readers to share their stories of financing education. Here’s one from reader M: 

“I’m the oldest of three.  Before I even started middle school, my parents moved the family to a new state that had better public universities. When I was applying to schools, my parents told me that they would be willing to pay for four years of school—but only equivalent to what our in-state rates would be.  Anything beyond that would have to be covered by me.  I applied to public and private schools, and ended up choosing a great public university.  When I started talking about going to grad school, my parents made it clear I would be on my own. I was proactive about saving my money, getting a job and applying for a student loan for my program. 

“My sister made the decision that she wanted to go to school out of state. The ‘four years of in-state rates’ rule from our parents still stood, so when she chose an out-of-state (but still public) university, she chose to join ROTC. The program paid for books and tuition (and a small stipend), and my parents paid for her room and board.  Years later, she’s still in the military.  It’s a commitment to more years of service that’s paying for her to go to grad school.

“My younger brother dicked around in high school.  His grades weren’t great. He didn’t know what he wanted.  And when the only school that accepted him was a private college, my parents changed their minds about what they’d be willing to pay for.  It’s still four years only, but they’re covering his entire tuition.  Perhaps it’s the fact that they saved so much money from when my sister was in school, maybe they relaxed their standards of how much they’d be willing to contribute for school, or maybe their rules about what they were willing to pay for were a bluff the whole time.

“I feel bad for my parents—they made that move all those years ago with the intention of sending their kids to great and affordable in-state schools—and only one of their three kids actually decided to follow through with that.  I loved my college experience, but the fact that they were willing to bend the “what we’re willing to pay” rules makes me a little jealous…and wonder what would have happened if I made a different choice.

“I have asked them about paying for my brother, and they’ve said it’s none of my business, and that they’re working it out with him. That was a couple years ago at Christmas, and I haven’t brought it up again because it was sort of awkward and I didn’t want to make te rest of the holidays weird, or myself seem bitter/angry. I think my parents really were winging it when I went off to school, and didn’t know how they were going to lay down the rules of what they’d pay for.”

How did you finance your education? (Or, if you didn’t go to college, how did you finance your first years out of high school?) logan@thebillfold.com

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