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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 came from a large, single-parent, lower-middle class family—worked and saved my money during the summers. I didn’t need to get a student loan until my senior year, so did not have a huge debt facing me on graduation. I never lived so cheaply (and so well) as during those four years at the UW.

My Father and Mother made the offer that I could live at home, room and board and they would pay my tuition, books, fees, etc. as long as I was a full-time student. I had to pay my car, personal items, and room and board if I moved away from home—which I did a few times during the four plus years it took to get my degree. I had a great time at the UW. It was a beautiful campus and had a great faculty as well. I thought that college was affordable. Mom and Dad had four boys over five years so they made the same deal with all and it didn’t break anyone’s budget. I did not live in a dorm or frat and I made most of my meals at home. I rarely ate on campus. I lived in Fremont and Ballard when I moved out and that too was affordable on the money I made as a waiter and cook in local restaurants.

The question fails to address a critical student population: The student veterans that financed their way through college by military service. Those of us that served in combat “worked” pretty damn hard for that education. It certainly wasn’t financial aid.

I was there on a scholarship from the US Navy, which required me to take ROTC classes (Naval Science) but paid tuition, books, and paid $50 a month for living expenses. I couldn’t live on $50 a month, so I supplemented that with money earned over the summer, and part-time work during school. When I graduated I was commissioned an ensign in the US Navy and I served a tour as a navy pilot in Vietnam.

First 3/4 was paid by student loans. This was harder, since there was very little money. Trying to find compatible work took away from the focus on studying. The last part of my degree was on a part-time basis, with a full-time job. This took longer, but was more positive. I had sufficient money for needs, and the added motivation of working toward a goal (law school) that would lift me out of the work that funded the final quarters of my undergraduate degree.

I worked some summers, saved most of the cash and applied it to tuition. I received a nominal subsistence allowance for participation in ROTC during my senior year, and applied that to school expenses. Later, I worked some part-time jobs while in school, and received interference from one graduate student adviser who played at being some sort of control freak. My parents contributed food and shelter. My sister worked some of the years that I was in school, and provided some interest free loans for tuition and books from her earnings. My education was goal driven in areas which I did not really enjoy, but created a sense of responsibility to the point that I never objected to footing the bills for much of my own offspring’s’ education. I paid into their futures for some of what I had received in the past.

Athletic scholarship. Running track was an awesome experience!

I was surprised that there were not more scholarships available based on my GPA and extracurricular activates. It seemed contrary to what I heard about lots of money being available. Many of the scholarships seemed very specific. My parents made too much money for me to qualify for financial aid, but it was a bit of a hardship to get through without taking out any loans.

For the second bachelor’s, I had saved money from two years in the army and two years in an engineering job.  For grad school, I worked part-time, had some money from the GI Bill, and received money for three quarters of being a Teaching Assistant, and also for three quarters being a Research Assistant.

I earned an Air Force ROTC Scholarship that covered three years of tuition and books. The Air Force has been a huge positive both during my time at the UW and as an officer.

Financial aid was the GI Bill after serving four years military.  Wife worked shift work. I cooked dinner, babysat our daughter, then studied. Campus life was only the Hub and football games.

My first two years was a combination of work and parent support; last two years I paid all myself while working fulltime. Good experience.

I paid for all of my undergraduate education at UW with the GI Bill. I was very frugal and lived in a cheap communal house in the Wallingford area. We had no telephone, no TV, and heated with a potbelly stove. I had a chainsaw and a pick-up truck to cut firewood in hills above the Duvall area. This was in the 70s however; I graduated in 1977.

I worked in the Alaska fishing industry for five summers to pay for college. Years later my two sons and daughter did the same thing.

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