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Paying for College

Day 5 of Slice of Life Challenge

When I went to college, I qualified for full financial aid. Full. I had a small federal loan to pay back at the end of four years at a state school. Looking back at this from the vantage point I have now, it seems both wonderful and sad. I mean, I qualified for full financial aid because my family didn’t make a lot money each year. My stepfather owed his own business which didn’t always make a profit each fiscal year and my mother worked part time. I was not at all a stellar student so merit scholarships were never going to happen for me. I went to college because my family was poor.

I worked hard, sometimes three jobs, to get through grad school. I had to take out a substantial amount of money in loans to pay for my master’s degree at a private college. There was no financial aid available then and I wasn’t working full time yet. So, I paid back those loans until I was almost 40. I was able to go to graduate school and pay for it by working very hard (and with an additional salary after I got married).

Now, my husband and I are in a good place financially. We’ve made good decisions overall. We have less then 10 years left on our mortgage, we can spend money without worrying too much. We didn’t save a lot of money for our children’s college years but some. We met with my son’s future college financial aid counselor yesterday. It’s a private school and a really good school. He is excited to go there and we are excited for him to go there. We do not qualify for financial aid. He’s getting a good merit scholarship and a small federal loan but the bulk of this college is on him, or us.

My son will have to start his life in debt because his parents worked hard to get to a safe financial status so that they don’t qualify for tuition assistance. It’s frustrating when I think about it like this: I was lucky to go to college because my parents couldn’t afford it but my son is unlucky because his parents can afford it (afford= $60,000+ per year). And before you tell me it’s because it’s a private school, it’s not!! The state schools are also up in cost. Private schools are working hard to compete!

I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things but I do know that the cycle we have in this country of punishing people because they want to get educated is so backward. It almost seems cruel. We will do whatever we need to do to lessen the burden on our son because we can. We won’t risk our own retirements because that doesn’t make sense but we will help for as long as we need to. Then, we’ll add on my daughter in a few years.

Paying for college shouldn’t mean taking on such tremendous debt. It shouldn’t mean that parents need to take on more debt than a house mortgage. It shouldn’t mean that kids are starting out a life with the enormous burden of loans to better themselves and try to be successful in this world. Where’s the sense in this?

We were given mixed advise back when our kids were born. If you save the money for college, they will count that and you’ll get even less aid. If you don’t save, you might qualify for more. We couldn’t save much when they were younger. We lived on one salary while I stayed home to raise them. Other expenses always took precedence. But now, standing on the threshold of college, I wish I could go back and save enough to pay for all of it so that we couldn’t lighten their burden. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?


A Cruel Focus : Grades

Format and title inspired by today’s Slice of Life featured teacher writer, Maureen.

They seem to define middle school and the kids within.
It's all they seem to care about,
It's all they seem to see.

I hate grades but I am required to have ten
Per quarter for both subjects I teach.
Ten subjective, non-specific grades that can cause:

social stigma

"They aren't that important!" I want to shout.
"They don't define you!" I want to scream.
"Sometimes, I completely make them up," I whisper.

Don't put so much pressure on yourself 
Or your child
Because of grades.
There are so many other important things to notice,

What did you learn today?
What ignited passion in you today?
What confused you today?
What mistake did you make today?
How did you grow today?

Grades. A cruel fate not only for
but also
for teachers.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.