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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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Took 18-21 credits per quarter to minimize expense—three year B.A. in 1974; M.A. in 1975. Have never earned above $25,000 per year and have omitted education on some job applications. Would not go to college if I knew then what I now know. Have not seen any advantage to college education in the area in which I have resided and worked for last 30 years.

A student who is independently supporting him/herself through school, will grow up to be a very responsible adult — but at what cost? Although he/she will graduate with a resume including consistent work experience, for this student, no choice is easy, nor totally positive. Sometimes I wished that students who had financial help from family realized how lucky they were, and in turn, took school more seriously. But, then I remember to be glad that they didn’t... because if they were more focused, I don’t know if I could have remained academically competitive during the many years that school HAD TO BE the third or fourth priority on my list.

I mowed lawns, delivered dry cleaning, and washed dishes for an Elliot Bay seafood restaurant. This plus what my parents provided established a firm personal stake in my own education. I was the first of the four kids in my family to go to and complete college. Now I have a couple of master’s degrees and a Ph.D. I believe this start in higher education ensured commitment on my part and made me forever grateful, appreciative and understanding of how fortunate it can be to go to college.

I worked summers from the day exams were over to the day before classes started each year. Lived with parents most of the time but several quarters in dorms. Took out a small loan late in senior year to finish up. Within three months of graduation, I was free and clear of any debt.

I did not qualify for most financial aid programs, but I did take advantage of independent scholarships and was fortunate to have received a few scholarships from the UW business school. For the remainder of my tuition, I depended on my parents. While I would have preferred having financial independence, this is a difficult financial burden to carry while taking a full load of classes, holding a low-paying part-time job and being involved in campus activities. I appreciated being able take advantage of the campus environment and to worry more about learning and developing myself personally than about how to pay my tuition.

I know that I appreciated my education. I used savings, pursued grants and scholarships and did work study throughout my education to pay for school. I think I could have had better grades if I hadn’t worked, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I have the great feeling of knowing that I did everything for myself. This is a really funny side story, but today, at age 51, I still have UW class ‘nightmares.’ These dreams are about having finals and papers due for about 5 classes all on the same day. I have this nightmare when I get really stressed. The UW is always in my heart, soul—and nightmares!

I learned to budget my time carefully. Besides working part-time, I was active in my sorority, was chairman of a campus activity my junior year & a student body officer my senior year. Our sorority read to a blind student every week (we took turns so I only actually read once a month however, I also volunteered @ children’s orthopedic hospital when I had spare time. I would not trade my helping out for my UW education. When I went to work full-time after graduation, it seemed so easy, even though I was married at the time & had a lot of different responsibilities.

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