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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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I feel like I took my education more seriously because I knew I was paying for part of it. Also, because I worked during college it felt more like real life, having to balance things more. I had some friends who didn’t work and they had a harder time adjusting post-college while I felt relief!

I would have been more aggressive in seeking grants or scholarships in high school. I had to work full-time most of my many years at the UW, which strained me mentally and physically. It also adversely affected my grades and enjoyment of the college experience, as well as straining my marriage. But that’s life. The bottom line is I’m grateful I found a wonderful woman who supported my protracted education and glad I was able to attend, and graduate from, the UW.

While I consider myself much more financially conscious compared to other students that had additional help and were not responsible for 100% of their bill; I do believe I missed out on the “college experience.” I worked through school, never lived on campus, was not involved with clubs, study groups, late night parties.

For my junior and senior years I didn’t qualify for financial aid anymore, even though I wasn’t able to use any money from family. I had to drop entirely out of school two (maybe three, I forget) times to work, and I dropped numerous classes when the course load interfered with my ability to work. It took me 10 years to graduate. Felt great when I finally did.

I was lucky enough to have enough scholarship money that I was awarded while in high school to cover most of my college education. Whatever was not covered, I paid for myself with money I earned working part-time. I am grateful for the scholarships because I never had to take out a loan and was debt free when I graduated. Applying for scholarships has been my most important advice to high school students concerned about paying for college. Even if they don’t think they would qualify, I tell them to apply anyway and for as many scholarships as they can because it could pay off in the future.

I was a student athlete at the University. I was fortunate to earn an athletic scholarship for four years at the UW. It was 2/3’s the first three years and full my senior year. My mom made up the difference. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to earn a degree from the UW and have no financial debt when I graduated.

Trying to start a full-time career and finish my last two required classes was not the best idea, grade-wise, but being able to be free of college loans only six months after graduation was worth the B in physiology!

I lived at home with Mom & Dad—who paid those expenses. I paid my tuition and books from jobs, full-time in the summer and part-time during school.

I commuted for two years to the University of Washington from 1971-1973 and basically paid for 90% of my education. This was the most cost effective thing to do at the time, being the third of four children. My parents really supported getting a degree but we were not flush. My father was laid off from his engineering job in Seattle in 1970 and started his own business. My mother was not working *yet* but would be soon. In any case, it was tough because all my friends from Sammamish High either went to junior college or didn’t attend college. I was isolated and didn’t feel like I really fit in. Once I moved into the U District (with my sister who had already graduated) everything got better. But I still worked from May to October as a waitress (making good money but dealing with obnoxious people) to pay for my yearly tuition. I also took two quarters off to make money and figure out what I wanted to do. I don’t think I really started fitting in until my junior year. I don’t have children, but if I did, I would make sure there was some way to help them more. It’s important to be responsible but working and going to the UW was very impersonal. The UW is great if you know your major, but otherwise it’s just too big!

Others had more time to study than I did, but I feel that I had a good balance of work, school, and sorority activities that forced me to become excellent at time management. I have friends that both had their parents pay for everything and those that worked and paid for or are still paying for all of their education. I feel that I can relate to both.

While I managed to pay for my college eventually, if I had more financial resources I would have been a little less concerned about money and focused more on academics and extra curricular activities.

I paid using personal savings. I was an older student.

I paid for most, perhaps 95%, of my college. I went to a Tacoma Community College in its first years. I got a job as a custodian at a local grade school. Paid for my trip to Europe and my junior college while living at home. After getting back and acceptance by the UW, I accepted some money from my parents then the second year starting working at the computer center. Also, the Navy Reserve paid some funds, but mainly it was my earnings on campus at the computer center. Yes, having paid my own way was good. My daughter, now a senior, is earning money but mainly I have paid for 99% of her education. Did it make me more responsible? I do not know, but my kid knows more about finance than I ever did because her father taught her, gave her a credit card, bank accounts, and responsibility.

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