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I am SO blown.

SkullduggerySkullduggery Registered User Posts: 600 Member
Guys, I need a little bit of help.

It came to my attention sometime last year that, due to financial hardships, I have absolutely no college fund whatsoever (e.g. having to pay medical bills for my mother having cancer in 2003, not being able to afford the mortgage, and so on). My grades are average, my talents average, and although I am a great essay-writer, I am probably out of luck with the economy in the current state that it is. My dream school is $50k/year and offers very little merit aid, presumably less now that spending is going to get slashed. Getting a job is out of the question; I have been trying since the middle of last year, but living in a town of 1,500 guarantees that there will not be enough jobs for everybody, and I would have no transportation for prospective employers over a mile away.

If you were in my position, what would you do? Or if you knew someone in my position, what would you suggest to them?
Post edited by Skullduggery on

Replies to: I am SO blown.

  • alamemomalamemom Registered User Posts: 6,384 Senior Member
    Apply for financial aid. I looked at your chances threads, and all of your choices offer financial aid. Fill out the CSS/Profile and the FAFSA.

    A mile is not too far to ride a bike (10 min, tops) or walk (20 min) or take a bus. Keep trying for a job, apply for the ones you might have dismissed as "below" your qualifications.

    Apply to in-state schools, especially ones close enough to your home or a close relative's home that you could commute to.

    Good luck!
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,167 Senior Member
    Look at the qualities of that dream school and try to find some other colleges that share those qualities that might be less competitive (thus increasing your merit aid prospects). And it's OK to apply to that dream school....just in case the aid works out.

    You are not the only student on the planet without a college fund. In fact, I'm going to venture that many many (if not most) students do not have a college fund.
  • SkullduggerySkullduggery Registered User Posts: 600 Member
    I know they award aid -- but I just don't know how much, because Skidmore, for example, would still leave $6,000 out of pocket that I don't have. It's not that I have dismissed any jobs, either, rather that nobody will hire me around here because every establishment we have is overstaffed up to 110% in some places, and we have no bus system in Podunk Nowhere. :/

    My biggest piffle is that I want, more than anything, to be able to stay in the dorms. I NEED to get out of this town; it's absolutely stifling. Perhaps that is asking too much, but from what I know, commuting, say, 45 minutes to and from school every day with gas prices as high as they are will cost more than staying in a dorm.

    Really, I wasn't aware that lots of kids are without college funds. Everyone that I have talked to in my grade has at least a few thousand dollars stashed away somewhere, but in this town, you're either really rich and can afford to go to school or really poor and don't care about education, and in typical Skullduggery fashion, I fall right in the middle of the two extremes. Go figure.
  • alamemomalamemom Registered User Posts: 6,384 Senior Member
    $6,000 out of pocket for Skidmore would be very reasonable, and you can most likely find ways (summer work, on-campus work) to come up with it.

    Many students want, more than anything, to get out of whatever town they happen to be in and get "the real college" experience of staying in dorms. The reality is that if you cannot afford that ONE version of college, it is far better to find a version you CAN afford and actually GO to college than find yourself without options. Apply to the dream school, apply for financial aid, apply for merit scholarships. If it all adds up to more that you can afford, be SURE you have an affordable option you know you can afford.

    The real ticket out of your (probably wonderful) town is an actual college education.
  • alamemomalamemom Registered User Posts: 6,384 Senior Member
    Oh - just did some figuring: A 45 minute commute is probably about a 40 mile drive. 40 miles twice a day, five days a week is 400 miles a week. A typical vehicle will get about 20 miles/gallon (probably more). That is 20 gallons a week at about $3.75/gallon for about $75 per week. Over 36 weeks of school, that is $2,700 - actually FAR less than a dorm room would cost. Commuting from home, even 45 minutes, would be a savings.
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    ^The calculation above is fairly accurate, but consider the cost of insurance and maintenance as well. The OP may not have a car, and not have access/use of a family vehicle.

    Now, with a bit of luck, sheght be able to pick up a decent 10 year old car for a $1800-$2500. The key is finding a car that won't cost you a tremendous amount for repair.
    It makes no sense to buy a clunker that will be a money pit for repair $.

    Some good sources are neighbors, friends, religious affiliation contacts, the family's independent mechanic. Someone always knows someone wanting to sell a car. Some of the best deals are from the elderly, or recently widowed. These are often one owner cars, purchased new, that have been well maintained. They are often sold because of a death in the family, or the driver cannot drive due to age or health issues.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Registered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    I know many people, myself included, who went to junior college for their first two years and then transferred to their "dream" school. This was my best option coming from a large family and starting college when I was clueless about what I wanted to get out of it. Others did it because they couldn't get into their top choices immediately. I never had any regrets, and never heard anyone else there complaining either. I had friends there who went on to earn JD's, MD's and PhD's. I lived in the dorms, had the real college experience, etc. and saved alot of money in tuition. Consider it if you're in a bind!
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,532 Senior Member
    If the reality were that the OP could get tuition/room & board at Skidmore but be gapped $6000 it is doable with a Stafford loan and a part-time job, but perhaps the OP is already "figuring" in the Stafford loan. Everyone is giving good advice Apply to your dream schools (not ED), find colleges where you are in the top 10% or so and will get merit dollars and have at least one financial safety local or otherwise that your family CAN afford. The job I'm afraid, you need to really work at finding. We live in a Podunk town not much larger than yours and my kids were able to find part-time stuff before they had their drivers license but they had to put effort into it, each job led to a lightly better one - just like it works in adult life.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Have you talked to your parents about college? Particularly the financial part of it. That is an essential first step. They may have some thoughts and ideas on this. You need to bring up the subject so you know what is realistic for your family. Also, you need access to tax returns and info so you can complete some on line calculators to get an idea about what kind of financial aid you can expect. Also look at your state school, and what they will cost. Do you have relatives or friends of the family that you can visit in areas where you can find work over the summer and vacations?

    If the gap is $6000 total, there are many ways to come up with the difference. You can work during the school year, take out some loans, ask your parents if they are willing/able to borrow (Parents PLUS loan may be an option).
  • huguenothuguenot Registered User Posts: 514 Member
    You are getting great advice! My children are in the same situation financially, so we have looked at this a lot.

    1- Get some academic and financial safeties on your list. Look for colleges that have that special something you want (other than prestige, which is overrated anyway) in which you are a top student. Look for schools that you could afford based on how they usually administer aid. You can run the FAFSA formulas yourself and figure out pretty much where you stand.

    2- Realize that dreams take work and that your path ahead may not look like exactly what you have in mind. There are great schools that are free/inexpensive like Berea and others that you may not have realized that you might be a scholarship candidate for. JCs and CCs can be a boost up, too.

    3- If you can't get what looks like a typical teenager job, look for other things to do. Some of the things kids I know have done: clean churches (pays better than you'd think and is very flexible time-wise), babysit children, dogwalk, clean houses, wash windows, paint houses, do yardwork, sell stuff on eBay, write articles for local and nonlocal newspapers and magazines, etc. Be creative.

    4- Don't be mislead by the Ivy-obsession of some folks on CC. Contrary to what some may think, folks become enormously successful with degrees from all sorts of colleges and no degrees at all. Success is more about you than your college.

    5- Life is tough. Yes, I wished I could say to my children, "Hey, go anywhere you want and I'll foot the bill." Instead I was lucky to have the money to drive them there. It worked out for the best. DS is in the best school for him, he has the funds he needs and he loves it there. I wonder if he would have chosen a different (and perhaps not as long term good for him) school if he could have gone anywhere. The Lord sometimes guides us with closed doors, too -- and it's a huge kindness even if it doesn't always feel that way.

    For the record, I don't know any of my children's friends who have college funds.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Skull, very few kids we know have college funds. Our kids have small amounts saved for college, sundries, personal spending, personal savings that they accumulated from jobs, birthdays, Christmas, prizes, etc.
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