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Can’t afford any college, 70k+ in debt no matter what school

lupelupe55lupelupe55 0 replies1 threads New Member
As the title says, I can’t see any way to afford college without going into an insane amount of debt. I’m a Maryland resident and I applied to three public in-state schools, UMD, UMBC, and St. Mary’s, all of which have a cost of attendance nearing $20k per year. UMD is the cheapest for me at about $18k per year and this is after a partial Banneker/Key scholarship. I can’t commute because 1) it’s multiple hours away and 2) my parents really don’t want me to live at home. My parents have no college savings and while they’re willing to co-sign on private loans, they can’t afford to pay for me to go to school. Community college isn’t an option for me because again, my parents don’t want me staying home and I’d lose my scholarship and I don’t think I’d be able to participate in the gemstones honors program at UMD because it starts freshman year.

My dad says he might be able to give me $2000 per year and my mom said she’ll give me her tax return this year, though I don’t know how much money that will be. I had a paid internship planned for this summer where I would have earned around $4500 as a stipend but it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus shutdowns. I’m planning to major in math with a concentration in statistics, maybe with a cs minor just to give me more options. I’m interested in going to grad school for data science but would be fine with getting a job right after undergrad if I can. My top choice school, Bryn Mawr, has a similar COA at about $21k per year. Is it worth it to go to the school I want for slightly more money per year when I know I’m going to be taking out this insane amount of loans regardless?

Edit: I know the usual advice given is go to an instate school, find a cheaper school but that’s exactly what I did when I was applying. I got significant merit scholarships from every school I was accepted to and I almost only applied to in states and safeties. I know I’m in a bad situation but I really don’t want the typical lecture I tend to see on posts like this.
edited April 4
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Replies to: Can’t afford any college, 70k+ in debt no matter what school

  • happymomof1happymomof1 30559 replies192 threads Senior Member
    edited April 4
    Can you take a gap year and focus your applications on places where you would have a guaranteed full-ride or a nearly full ride? That might be your best option. U of Alabama and U of Alabama at Huntsville could be options. Check this forum for other ideas.

    So sorry that you are in this situation.

    edited April 4
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  • thumper1thumper1 77957 replies3488 threads Senior Member
    edited April 4
    $18,000. You can take the $5500 Direct Loan...so now your balance is $12,500. A job can net you probably $2000 minimally...so $10,500. Is that attainable for your family...or not.

    @happymomof1 can tell you...if you can commute to a community college for two years then finish at a four year, you will be in better shape financially. I’m sort of surprised she did not explain that option in her reply to you.
    edited April 4
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  • NJdad07090NJdad07090 549 replies8 threads Member
    Ok , first this sucks for you, UMD is a very good school and at your COA is a very good deal, I do not know if UMD has this but Rutgers for example has a dorm where you pay no R&B but everyone in the dorm pitches in , makes the meals, cleans the bathrooms in exchange for free R&B. Do you have to live on campus all 4 years or any, if not maybe it would be cheaper to live off campus to save some money. Assuming the eastern shore is open the next few years get a waiter job and hustle to make summer bucks there. I would look at living off campus to save money. Seems like your delta each year is gonna be about 8 k after your federal loan, you can put a big dent in this by a summer job so maybe it is 3 k after the summer job. I assume your parents were offered a parent plus loan which I think they would not have to pay until you graduate, so that may be an option. Not gonna lie, it will be tough for you but it is doable, you have a good major to make decent money out of undergrad. I would stay in state and see if you can pick up any other scholarships the next three years. Invest in yourself. I would be against the gap year bc you got a pretty good deal from UMD, maybe a late application to university of New Mexico or Alabama may work for you, depending on your stats. Good luck, you can do this!
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  • 2plustrio2plustrio 301 replies5 threads Member
    Garrett College could be a start, and it has dorms. Also Allegheny College in Maryland has dorms as well. Perhaps check them out to see their transfer opportunities.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13421 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    You're not in a great situation.

    So the big question, if your parents want you out of the house, is can you find a job that allows you to support yourself? If so, you could get a degree. It wouldn't be the traditional college experience, unfortunately, but there are online/distance options for nontraditional students as well as decently priced CC options (that you can use the Federal loans for). You could also use the Federal loans for almost all American higher ed programs (such as Harvard Extension School). The University of London also offers really cheap distance degrees (some of them led by the LSE, including a Data Science bachelor's: http://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/uolip, though they're cheap because they are mostly self-study and then you take tests once a year to determine your marks. You can't apply Federal loans to those. Also, some employers pay for distance degrees for their employees (like Starbucks) though your choice of majors may be limited.

    Otherwise, if it's a big amount of debt either way, I'd go with Bryn Mawr. You'd get more support there.
    edited April 5
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  • mommdcmommdc 11906 replies31 threads Senior Member
    So your parents can't or won't be able to pay the full cost to go to college and live on campus, but don't want you to stay at home?

    The first thing to do is sit down with them and figure out the out of pocket cost for all of your instate choices.

    Look at your financial aid award and add up tuition, fees, room and board costs.
    Then subtract your scholarship, any other grants, then subtract your student loan of $5,500.

    What is the remaining cost after all aid has been applied?

    Then see if that is affordable for your parents to pay.

    Do they know that all you can borrow is the $5,500 student loan?

    If your dad gives you $2,000 and your mom the tax refund this year, is that enough?

    Things are difficult for many people due to the pandemic, due to loss of income, etc.

    Make sure you plan for all four years. Possibly you can save some money living off campus later.

    Statistics is a good major and a friend of my D graduated with a BS and MS in four years due to AP credits.

    She had two summer internships and was offered a full-time job by one of the companies upon graduation.

    Only do a minor if it is easy to add and doesn't extend your time of study.

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  • RelicAndTypeRelicAndType 200 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited April 5
    This is an awful situation. I feel for you. You've done absolutely everything right and you're still staring down the barrel of higher five figures in debt.

    I know the conventional CC wisdom is don't ever take on debt. But in this case you've targeted a high-paying major/minor combination you don't have to go to grad school for. It's not as if you're going to major in basketweaving and then go to law school.

    Use an online calculator to see what your monthly payments would be and compare that to starting salaries for jobs in your field. I think you may find it'll be manageable for you.

    Congratulations on the Banneker Key. That's a big honor.

    Again, this advice goes against the grain here so take it with a Honda Civic full of salt. But if your parents are actually willing to co-sign private loans, I think you might be able to do it.
    edited April 5
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  • TrendaLeighTrendaLeigh 201 replies25 threads Junior Member
    At UMD, you might be able to complete school in three years...eons ago, I completed a bachelor's and a master's degree at UF in less than 48 months with a toddler in tow, so it can be done!

    This approach substantially reduces your overall debt and you "gain" an extra year of earning power. If you haven't maxed out AP/Dual enrollment credits, see if UMD takes CLEP credits as well.

    It's a tough situation and the money will be tight, but you clearly have your head on straight. If you're willing to work hard, I think you can make it work. And don't accept the first "no" you get - keep exploring your financial options and asking questions. You could potentially save on room and board by trying for an RA position after your first year. And be open to higher-paying part-time jobs, such as waiting tables at higher-end restaurants. (Yes, they will re-open eventually!)

    After you graduate continue to live like a broke college student for a few years - pay off the loans BEFORE you buy a new car, upgrade apartments, or start grad school so they're not weighing you down for decades. (Voice of experience here...sigh.)

    Good luck!


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  • chaphillmomchaphillmom 120 replies12 threads Junior Member
    It sounds like challenging situation, and I agree with @RelicAndType that you have really done your best. Everyone, and every family, deal with different difficulties. Obviously none of us know what goes on behind the scene for you (and we don't need to!!). The 70k number is high, but I agree that it may be worth it to take on debt in this situation if you aren't able to save more money by living at home.

    Alternatively, the advice to work and put your self through college in a non-traditional timeframe could also work. There are some downsides, it takes longer to be able to get a higher paying degree based job/ benefits. And, if you have been looking forward to the college experience of living on campus and making those connections, that would be a disappointment.

    As far as a gap year, and applying to schools with really high merit (Alabama etc.), I can say that from my S20s experience, they do offer great scholarships, but unless you are NMF you would still typically have room and board/ travel etc. So- not necessarily that much better than the 20k you are looking at now.

    Good luck and hang in there @lupelupe55 . Please don't lose sight of the fact that you have achieved something fantastic with your acceptances and scholarships.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11061 replies145 threads Senior Member
    If no affordable options exist, then you have no options.

    OP: Try contacting each school's financial aid office to explain your situation & ask for more financial aid or merit money.
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  • ChangeTheGameChangeTheGame 966 replies15 threads Member
    edited April 5
    Hey OP, it could be worse, but I have a few suggestions that may help defray some of your college costs. Most of these tips are things I have seen other students do successfully to cut down on costs.

    Have you applied to any small outside scholarships that help defray any costs? Is doing ROTC is an option, or working as a resident assistant (RA) after freshman year (many schools will pay room and board or a good portion of those costs)? I met a student who became an low level employee at a top 25 school while going part time to a state directional school who was able to eventually transfer to the top 25 school and go tuition free while continuing to work. And my favorite story is a very recent one.

    I met an in-state engineering student at Georgia Tech in 2018 who completely funded his own education (he had a similar financial gap to your own) through applying to small scholarships throughout the school year while also going to school 2 semesters and then doing well paid co-ops for a semester on 4 different occasions. He also worked internships with great pay every summer. When I met that student, he was almost done and he had no debt and very little assistance from his low SES family. That student would have been in school 6 and 1/2 years (9 actual semesters in school) by the time he graduated, but being debt-free and having work experience and a job lined up post graduation is an amazing accomplishment.

    In your situation, you are looking at a relatively high paying degree so you take the loans and then you can find ways to cut those costs. You have a chance to work/save your way to a college education which will not be easy, but it can be done. One thing that most do not mention on CC is to also look to work for companies or government agencies that will pay some or maybe even all of your loans back for some length of service.

    My other suggestion which I offered to my kids if they wanted a really high priced education was to graduate, find a job in my household’s lucrative job market (Metro Atlanta) and live at home while using a majority of their salaries to repay any debt remaining after graduation. That was our last option and we never had to worry about deploying that option . Although that does not seem to be an option in your current situation, I would still float that idea to other family members who may be willing to help you post-graduation. Good luck to you and just know that many students all over the country are in your situation.
    edited April 5
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  • EconPopEconPop 558 replies9 threads Member
    edited April 5
    @lupelupe55 , Above all, realize none of this is your fault. Also realize that not every situation is the same. The best advice is to avoid loans as much as one is able, but sometimes there is no other option. My opinion is that it is much better to be a college graduate in Statistics in 2024 with $70K debt, than to never attend college at all. However, there are definitely options out there that may help you avoid that much debt.

    U of New Mexico often offers in-state tuition to many out-of-state students, especially those with very good grades. My son applied there this year and was awarded enough FinAid to attend for less out-of-pocket than what you will have available via the $2K from your father and your mother's tax return. You may not receive the exact same results, but it's worth a try. It's not too late to apply there, and they have rolling admissions so you could receive a decision in a few short weeks.
    edited April 5
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  • PublisherPublisher 11061 replies145 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    @EconPop: While UNM offers an inexpensive college education, I am curious about employment opportunities outside of the state of New Mexico for those grads not headed to grad school. (According to US News, the most popular undergraduate majors at UNM are business, health professions, psychology, biology, & social sciences.)

    In-state tuition is about $7,500 per year while Room & board is about $10,000 per year = $17,500 per year plus books, personal expenses, and travel.

    At $17,500 per year, this is similiar to OP's option of $18,000 per year at the University of Maryland.
    edited April 5
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13421 replies31 threads Senior Member
    @Publisher, probably depends a lot on the major.

    In any case, I doubt UNM is any more affordable.

    And right, see how many credits you could bring in to your various options as well.

    Bryn Mawr (or UMD in 3 years) may be the best options if you gain employable skills in college. You could potentially find work/internships on/around campus too to knock down costs/debt (probably more possible at UMD). See if the Banneker/Key allows you to keep the scholarship while going PT (or with a reduced load so you have time for jobs if you find them). Gain stats/data science/CS skills.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11061 replies145 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    @PurpleTitan: Doubtful that many out-of-state companies recruit at UNM for a variety of reasons with the main ones being quality of student, quality of school, and sub-50% six year graduation rate.

    Should be great, however, for in-state placement although few Fortune 500 companies are located in the state.
    edited April 5
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  • EconPopEconPop 558 replies9 threads Member
    edited April 5
    Publisher wrote: »
    @EconPop: In-state tuition is about $7,500 per year while Room & board is about $10,000 per year = $17,500 per year plus books, personal expenses, and travel.

    At $17,500 per year, this is similiar to OP's option of $18,000 per year at the University of Maryland.
    R&B was included in my numbers for what UNM offered my son. I would have said it was not, if it was not. But it was included. UNM added a specific grant to cover R&B

    There's no guarantee UNM will offer the same to @lupelupe55 , but it is worth a try if Lupe does not mind moving to Albuquerque to go to an affordable option.

    It will be up to each person to decide if it is worth $50K-$60K in extra debt to graduate from somewhere other than UNM.
    edited April 5
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13421 replies31 threads Senior Member
    @Publisher, people can move. Companies don't have to come to them. Also, a low graduation rate is actually a _positive_ signal to hiring managers, if anything. It means the school doesn't just graduate everybody. After all, you are not hiring the drop-outs. You're hiring the grads. Which also alleviates the concerns about student body quality (if most don't graduate). Top unis in Europe now and many top publics back in the day in the US use to weed out much of their entering class. But, if anything, that makes employers look more favorably towards UIUC EE/CompE/CS and ETH Zurich grads. They know the rigorous training those grads received in order to graduate from those places.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11061 replies145 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    @PurpleTitan: Sorry, but just "no" to everything that you posted above. The reality is quite different than your thoughts expressed above.

    I really do not want to denigrate UNM, but there is a reason that the state is known as "The Land of Entrapment".

    P.S. There are many reasons why UNM is ranked at #218 among National Universities and why the ACT mid-range of 25% and 75% is at 19 & 25 respectively--and why that figure does not include all students.

    Companies prefer to hire the best & the brightest hardworking individuals that are available in the marketplace. The marketplace is quite competitive.
    edited April 5
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  • PublisherPublisher 11061 replies145 threads Senior Member
    FWIW: There is a reason that almost every year when the rankings of state educational systems is released that Mississipians say "Thank God for New Mexico".

    While typically ranked #49 & 50 (next to last & last) among the 50 states for education, at least the University of Missiissippi has established relationships which lead to a pipeline of great jobs for the best students.

    UNM is great for pre-meds trying to achieve a high undergraduate GPA while saving money. Also, the UNM medical school is among the lowest COA in the nation.
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  • EconPopEconPop 558 replies9 threads Member
    edited April 5
    @Publisher , if being ranked 218 by USNWR is indicative of being a inadequate university, in your opinion what is the cutoff line for a university to be considered adequate?

    I ask because the OP listed two schools ranked approximately the same. UMBC is 166. St Mary's is #92 for LACs, which would probably place it below UNM on a combined list. I would hate for the OP to get the impression that those schools might also be subpar.
    edited April 5
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