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Columns Votes - December 2006

How did you pay for your college education?

Comments on Finances and the Student Experience

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Because I had to work full-time while raising a family and going to school, I had to manage my time more carefully. It was hard but it made me more focused than many other students. The negative was that my grades did suffer some. My mechanical engineering degree did provide me a career in aerospace engineering that was both satisfying and lucrative for 40 years. I have been supporting the UW engineering and UW medicine scholarship programs for the past 10 years.

Working nights and going to school days does not give enough time for study and class preparation. I did it, but it was unfairly difficult. Student loans should have been much more accessible.

Paying my own way leaves me with full appreciation for what I have. It also allowed me to gain relevant work experience with what I was learning in the classroom. I attended classes but never felt a part of the student community. I was never advised of scholarship or student loan opportunities. I think this problem has been fixed.

First two yrs at community college were on tuition scholarships. Even though my father was on disability & I had the grades, I didn’t qualify for scholarships at UW so I quit college to work full-time for 1 year & continued to work after returning to college. By paying my own way, I felt I only had to answer to myself & that I was working towards my goals, not someone else’s. If I had to do it over, though, I would look harder for scholarships.

I believe paying for school thru my own means made me more responsible and a better investor. I had no one asking me about grades/classes. It was tough at times but very happy with the results.

Though I was very active and successful in college, not having to work weekends would have allowed me to take non-paid internship positions that would have increased my employability after graduating.

I was a married woman so my college expenses were paid entirely out of the salary my husband earned at the time. That is why I answered that he paid half and I paid half since WA is a community property state. I must say that my time at UW was a good investment because my ChemE degree was the basis for a fulfilling and lucrative career. My family and I continue to benefit from this investment.

The University of Washington continued to refuse me any financial aid, which devalued any positive experience I could have had. I worked constantly and frequently had no food to eat. Apparently, per the government, my father who made $35,000 a year made enough to finance the education of his daughter who graduated from high school with perfect grades. NO effort was made by the UW to assist me in anyway. There were times I was begging for help in some way. Instead of running track for the UW I had to quit to finance my education. I managed to go through the UW medical school. Now all I get are requests from the UW asking for financial donations. What for? In my time of need, the school blew me off!!!

I think my first quarter at the UW was a little over $500 for tuition—quite a deal! I left my undergrad with no student debt unlike the tens of thousands of dollars owed by my friends who had attended private universities

I found that I appreciated my education and showed up to class more often than my friends whose parents were able to just write a check for tuition. I also was more structured with my time as I didn’t have as much free time as many of my friends.

I was one of those smart yet underprivileged students that didn’t have much chance in life due to my family’s economic situation. If it hadn’t been for the student affairs office helping me with my financial situation, I wouldn’t be where I am today!

It seems that most of my fellow students who amassed huge college debt were also the same ones who went on vacation, went to the movies, bought music, and drove the new cars during our college days. I considered those things “frills” and instead spent my limited earnings and the rent money my parents gave me very carefully to avoid debt. I think one of the problems that leads to excessive debt is the “I want it now” lifestyle choices. It may be an inability to delay gratification—do without what you want now so that you will be able to enjoy it later. Excessive debt really does reduce and restrict options down the road.

Using financial aid during the school year and paying off the loans myself by working summers and after graduation taught me to manage money. Since I did not rely on family for any of my school tuition (and I went to school for three different degrees for a total of 12 years), I had to be responsible. It isn’t easy to pay for school this way, but you learn to appreciate every bit of education that you receive.

In some quarters, my job interfered with my studies. However, overall, the combination of work, scholarship, and parent’s savings (in college fund) provided a useful life experience.

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