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Columns Votes - December 2006

How did you pay for your college education?

Comments on Student Loans and Debt

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Most of my college was paid through financial aid. I also worked full time while attending college in order pay for food, lodging & other materials needed for school (i.e. books, paper). If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t have worked as much. I would have definitely been more involved in student groups on campus.

Part-time work added to my experience and sense of involvement in the University. Repaying loans limited some of my career choices.

Although I didn’t like entering the “real world” in major debt, it does teach responsibility and the consequences of good and bad credit. I don’t think that I will pay for my children’s college education entirely. I feel they may not appreciate it as much. I feel very proud that I paid for my college education...

The reality shock comes later when it’s time to start repayment of loans. What seems like a miniscule amount to repay, $5,000 per year for six years, has mushroomed into a huge burden due to the realities of the jobs market.

In retrospect, I should have put more thought into how to deal with the expense of college when coming out of high school. If I were to do it over again, I would spend more time applying for scholarships or other ‘free’ money programs. As it was, I relied too heavily on Stafford loans and ended up needing to pay them back once college was complete.

Financial aid (mostly in the form of loans) allowed me to get an education. If I didn’t have that option, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school. However, now that I’m out of school, I have a huge amount of debt to repay that is affecting my ability to accomplish some of my other goals (like buying a house or traveling.)

I come from a lower-middle-income family and going to college simply wouldn’t have been possible for me without financial aid. Most of my education was paid for with scholarships and grants, and some with loans. I had to work part-time to cover some of my housing costs (since I chose to live alone off-campus), but overall I had a very positive experience not having to worry about how I was going to pay for my tuition and books.

Without student loans, the college experience would not have been as rich because I would have had to work more hours to fund my education. Having student loans partially fund my college education allowed me to participate in campus life & to interact more with my fellow classmates.

I am still paying off my student loans and I graduated in 1999!! They need to find ways to make college more affordable for everyone—not just “low income” students. Also, the housing was really expensive in Seattle and “slum lords” capitalized on the students by charging really high rent and renting substandard housing.

The financial aid is what made it possible for me to attend UW without an exorbitant amount of debt afterwards.

My freshman year (1986), I was awarded numerous grants and minimal loans to help pay for tuition. The following years, I was only eligible for loans. If I’d known more about the financial aid system and understood that most people only get grants the first year, I probably would have done some different planning.

I was fortunate to have been able to take out a student loan in the ’60s with extremely easy payback terms. My husband and I both enjoyed these easy UW student loans and eventually paid them back in full but over a period of many years after graduation, according to the loan terms.

Most monies came from work (more than half) for three years and two quarters of under graduate school and fours of professional school. I was fortunate to have a job, for two years, in Alaska working for Pacific American Fisheries. Then driving a truck in Spokane after the fishing season. I also borrowed money from the Hickman Student Loan Fund for two years (run by the trust department of People’s Bank). They required a detailed budget plan and gave no more than was absolutely required. The federal loan programs of today are far too generous and lackluster budgeting requirements. Thus students graduate with far too much debt.

I’m glad I had as much time as I did to focus on my work while pursuing my degree (M.F.A. ’91) but the hefty loan payments are still a drag all these years later.

I was grateful to get the financial aid that I received- it made me work harder in school and consequently, I graduated with a 3.5 GPA from University of Washington in 1994. I felt that I needed to live up to the gift that I was receiving— the priceless gift of education.

Had to work to support rent, food as I was an older student. Paying off student loans will take years.

Paying for it myself helped me to be serious about it, and I didn’t waste a dime. I don’t relish the thought of paying off my student loans for YEARS (reality...), but am grateful that I was able to go to college

I paid for all but nominal, early college expenses (for which I did get some aid) with a combination of work and loans. The need to pay my own way was a major contributor to my seriousness, maturity and appreciation of an education. When I began to “go astray” with poorer grades due to partying, I was hurting only myself—and I knew it. I don’t cite my example to justify opposition to financial aid—in fact, I am a strong supporter. However, I am aware that there is a potential down side to financial aid, if students start to take it for granted and fail to appreciate the value of what they are pursuing.

By using any kind of financial aid, I now have the negative burden of paying back student loans (and credit cards) when I graduate.

An additional burden I had was the assumption that my parents were expected to cover a certain portion of my education. Since I was not eligible to be an independent, my parents’ income affected my ability to get grants. This has more to do with FAFSA than UW. I did what I could. I worked and lived at home up until I was no longer able to do so. Still, it was a pretty cold experience.

At the time I was in college and grad school, I did not worry too much about the amount of debt. But now that I’m out, and not yet employed as a full time teacher, the payments are causing a strain on the family financial situation. This is especially true as we look toward our daughter starting college for the 2007/2008 school year.

Student loans were the only way for me to pay for college expenses. I wish I had not had to borrow. Student loans are hard to pay off.

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