Covering College & University Costs

Are you or someone you know heading off to college or University this fall? Are you already panicking about the massive amounts of student loans you’re going to rack up? Thankfully, most schools are doing online this year, saving you on dorm fees. However, the cost of tuition, books, and supplies can be daunting.

Thankfully, my parents paid for my first year of college. I was very grateful, but didn’t understand the full appreciation of that yet. I hadn’t had a lot of bills as a teenager, aside from clothes and gas for my car. So, I couldn’t grasp the large amount they were helping with. I worked hard my first year, but also made sure to have a lot of fun. Thus, not fully submitting myself to great studying the way I should have.

Then came my nursing education. One set of parents paid for my tuition and the other let me live with them for free. I only had the books, supplies, and daily commute to and from school to worry about. I took out a student loan to pay for a new-to-me car as my other one had died. But of the $8,000 I had available, that only came to about $2,000. That was not great but manageable. That was until I got into class.

We met all of our professors and heard about the various classes we would be taking. We were all nervous and excited to get started. Then one of the professors mentioned that we should not work at all during our course. If we did, we would most likely fail or come away with very poor grades. All of our time and attention should be spent pouring into our studies. Having a strong sense of responsibility in me, I heeded to that strong warning.

The problem was, I didn’t have much money saved up. I still had to pay for gas to and from school and to my clinical practices. If I hadn’t made lunch ahead of time, I bought food from the cafeteria for lunch. After one semester, I had maxed out my $8,000 loan. And I didn’t even return to that schooling the next fall.

So, when it came to returning to school again, I was determined to pay for everything myself. I didn’t want to take from my parents something that I might not be dedicated to. I also wanted to get rid of this debt hanging over me.

I got accepted to school for administration in May of 2008. Then I went straight out and found a couple of jobs for that summer. I worked full-time from 6am-2pm Monday-Friday at Tim Horton’s. Then I worked part-time at a Kelsey’s restaurant waitressing from 4pm until my shift ended. Some shifts were during the week and some on weekends. I worked 60 plus hours a week for a few months, minus a three-week missions trip to Haiti.

I saved all of my paycheques from Tim Horton’s and Kelsey’s for my tuition and loan payments. I saved all of my tips for everything else (missions trip, clothes, food, books, supplies, etc).

Then when school arrived, I took a leave from Tim Horton’s. I kept my part-time job waitressing at Kelsey’s because it gave me a better wage. I worked weekends and a couple nights a week. I stayed at school past my class times and worked in the cafeteria or library to keep up with my studies.

Then when a week long break or Christmas holiday came, I went back to my shifts at Tim Horton’s as well.

I worked hard that year and I was tired, but it was worth every moment. I still attended church each week, and made most College and Career nights. I managed to keep up with school and walk away with almost all 90’s for marks. I paid for my entire school year and also paid $5,000 on my previous student loan.

The thing is, when you work towards something you really want and you own the responsibility for it, you can succeed! You know that it’s you, your education, and your finances on the line. It takes a lot of hard, exhausting work, but it’s only for a small amount of time. Whether you’re in school for one year or eight, you can do it. The rewards at the end of it all will be great.

(PS – I did all of that during our last recession. There are always jobs and always money. You have to look for it and work hard, no matter what our economical situation is)

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