‘My Parents Told Me That If I Wanted to Go to College, I’d Have to Pay for It Myself”

We’ve invited readers to share their stories of financing education.How did you pay for your education, B.G.?

My parents told me that if I wanted to go to college, I’d have to pay for it myself. Alrighty then. After graduation in May ’09, I had about $23k in loans to pay off. Here’s the breakdown:

Degree cost: About $190,000

School scholarship: I chose a school with a “need-based” financial aid program and received about 70% of the total cost. Dear parents, thanks for being poor! Love, me.

Loans: I took out a Federal Stafford Loan (subsidized) for each year of school, which totaled $16,875. Thanks to a job that makes payments on my student loan, as of right now I have $3,411.52 left to pay.

Outside scholarships: My mom made me apply to a scholarship a week my senior year of high school, and there were a couple that wrote me a check all four years. 

I think the most I had was like $2,500 my freshman year and it decreased every year after that. Here is where I have a bone to pick with the so-called “need-based” program. One organization sent the scholarship check directly to the school, but instead of applying that money to my personal standing balance, they simply decreased the amount of the scholarship from the school! What! They claimed I no longer “needed” as much from them with the outside money coming in. Anyway, it decreased my motivation to apply for scholarships.

Hard work: Each year I was on the hook for an average of $10,000. Yikes! That meant three long summers of waiting tables, dog walking, babysitting, receptionist work, pretty much anything for a buck. I knew how much I needed to earn each day in order to pay for school. A work study job and tutoring paid for booze, parties, and basketball tickets in the student section.

Generosity of relatives: I really, really wanted to study abroad the summer before my senior year. Except I couldn’t afford either the cost of the program or the cost of not working for a summer. But I have a big family, and one aunt and uncle loaned me the money for the program, and one aunt and uncle loaned me $6,000 for my senior year tuition. I stayed in a lot that year since money was pretty tight, but it was worth it.  As a graduation present, the first set forgave the loan! I can’t ever express how grateful I am, for real. And I worked my tush off to pay back the other set—I did, one year and eight months after I graduated.


How did you go to school? (Or, support yourself after high school?) logan@thebillfold.com



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