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#1 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just received my financial aid award letter and the amounts of aid offered just cover my tuition and books.

How do people afford to go back to school when they have kids, a mortgage and a car payment? I don't understand how others make this looks so easy.

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#2 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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A girlfriend of mine hustled her bum off knocking on professors' doors to get paid positions with them. She is in graduate school, though. If you're finishing your undergrad, this may not work. She has 2 kids, ages 5 and 2. And it is tough on her and her husband.

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#3 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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My husband is getting no financial aid. We are saving up in advance, and I am working full time while he works parttime through school. We don't have kids or a mortgage though we do have a rent payment. We are also working to pay off a ton of debt while we put him through school. It involves living on very little money and working as much as we can.
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#4 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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Undergrads work part time or get loans. Grad students teach for a stipend or receive a fellowship.

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#5 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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Undergrads work part time or get loans. Grad students teach for a stipend or receive a fellowship.
Indeed. I've encountered lots of undergrads lately who say they "can't" work because of school. I just laugh at the silliness.

OP, you work, take out loans, or take fewer classes. I know what you mean, though, about others making it look easy. Someone posted a couple of days ago about using Pell grant money for Disney, and that irks me. It really, truly does because that's public money that could go to someone who needs it and won't spend it on a vacation. I think the way we fund students in this country is really problematic for many reasons.

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#6 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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I took out loans and worked. I got a few scholarships but nothing substantial.

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#7 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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I had the opposite problem, my first few classes are still considered undergrad and then it switches to the "official" grad program. The amount of money they were offering me was extreme. Much more then I needed, I ended up taking 1/3 of the offered amount. Last degree I paid for it myself so this whole financial aid thing is new to me.

ETA: I still work, but my paycheck is small because I don't work that many hours so we are used to just DH's salary. I just need the money to cover the tuition.

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#8 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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Are you currently working and need to stop working in order to go to school? If so then I can see your conundrum and in that case I'd look for part-time work, a work-at-home job or push off schooling until you can save up enough money to handle the cut in pay.

If you aren't already working and the household bills are paid via your spouse's income what additional expenses will you need to pay for that the financial aid award doesn't cover? This will help us help you brainstorm ideas on how to cover these expenses.

I was a stay at home mom when I went back in the fall of 2007. I just graduated this May. My husband is the primary breadwinner and so I started my own business to cover school-related costs. There were no child care expenses as my program was online.
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#9 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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Financial aid takes all sorts of variables into consideration. The biggest, of course, is your family's income. If you and your DH were working in 2009, it's surprising that you even get your classes and books paid for. Many people get much less than that in grants. It's based on your EFC. I don't know that you were working, but since you mentioned mortgage, etc., I assumed you going to school would make it harder to also work a full-time job that you depend on to pay expenses. Family size is a factor, too. We have four kids, and only one income - so I qualify for the maximum pell grant... which is only $5,500 for the whole year. Subtract tuition, books, and fees, and I certainly don't have enough to pay towards our cost of living. I will have enough, this semester, to replace my laptop that keeps freezing up and losing my work. But I attend a community college, which means my classes are cheap.

For undergrad, I think a lot of people include student loans when they say they get enough money to pay for housing, car, etc. Grad school, as it's been mentioned, is different. There are scholarships, and it's good to apply for them, but many just sutract the amount of grant money you get from the government - so either way, you really don't end up with tons extra.

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#10 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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I just received my financial aid award letter and the amounts of aid offered just cover my tuition and books
What else do you need to pay for? Doesn't that cover it all? Or, like a PP mentioned, did you quit your job to go to school? In that case, yeah, you'll have to work part-time. I worked 60 hrs / week for most of my college career, and while I know that WOH is nothing compared to staying with little kids, I still think you should be able to work a good 20 to make the car payment, no? I mean, you don't have more than 20 hrs / week in classes, max.

If someone is using a Pell Grant to go to freaking Disney, excuse me, I'm going to go throw up. I ate nothing but Ramen noodles my last two years, I had no money and no grants at all. That's absurd!

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#11 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 05:35 PM
 
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Save up money ahead of time, take out loans, or work part time (or some combination thereof). You can also look into any grants or scholarships outside of your school, through community organizations and the like, to help you out.
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#12 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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Student Loans...at the max. I use the $$ to supplement my income (Home Daycare). My EFC is 0 though, so I get max pell....

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#13 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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My husband is getting his way through school by scholarships and FA. He's currently working on his Bachelors at Evergreen State College, after just graduating with an AA. After he completes his Bachelors, he'll go for his Masters at Evergreen as well. At that point, he plans to enter the workforce (God willing!) and work on his Doctorate evenings/weekends online.

He has done 100% of his schooling by scholarships and FA. FA doesn't reward much, like you said. It covers tuition and books. However, he's tapped into resources like TRIO and uses their loaner books, so he rarely has to buy books. He also tries to pick his books up at local garage sales. We've had good luck finding some he needs, and others he doesn't that we pick up for a dollar and sell to the school for $30-75! Back to scholarhips, he spends significant time and effort on this. He uses local resources at the school like TRIO who help point you in the direction of all the scholarships to apply for, when there is open money to anyone who applies, help with writing your essays and even free printing. My husband also takes the time to get excellent referral letters from past teachers, as well as taking the time to write out thoughtful thank you notes back to those teachers. I think most people think scholarships are too much work to apply for or that they won't get scholarships for whatever reason. What we have found it, is that although you do want to put in some time and effort, the rewards are well worth it! My husband has changed his "major" ohhhh 4 times? And he just tailors his essay to whatever he's going for at the moment, hehe.

As of this upcoming year, my husband just recieved a 3 year, full ride scholarship to the Evergreen State College, as well as nearly 30,000 in scholarships (8 of that however, is student loans and 2 of that is work study-neither of which he plans to use). He also still recieves FA. He also has gotten other small scholarships (1000 and less). Because of his hard work, it provides him with the ability to not only go to school, but to be able to NOT work while he does so, giving him more time to focus on his schoolwork and get top notch grades. We live off of his FA and scholarship money, and although things are tight, we are able to live comforable and frugally in Olympia. Which isn't the cheapest place to live!

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#14 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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Work, I worked 25 -30 hours a week when getting my bachelors degree, and went to school full time.

Boy I really had to party hard to unwind from all that too!
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#15 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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When I was in school I worked full-time(as did DH) and we had a little one. I didn't get any financial, grants, loans, scholarships, etc.
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#16 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 07:42 PM
 
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Apply for grants and scholarships.. I get the federal pell grant due to my income BUT I also applied for other grants/scholarships and after all is paid, I get about 2500 back per semester for my living expenses... I also work FT and do school FT while being a mom to a newborn and 3 year old and a wife to my DH. It can happen- you just have to do some research.
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#17 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 07:56 PM
 
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My DH is in school full time, and working full time. Financial Aid is paying for school, working full time is paying to live. Which is really what financial aid and working are for. Financial aid isn't meant to pay for school AND the rest of your life, just school. And if you got enough financial aid to cover your entire tuition and your books, you are in good shape, we still had to drop $375 on DH's books this year (stupid classes require school designed bundles, things you can't get on ebay or other college textbook routes because there are things in the bundles that are designed and put together by the school and professer uniquely for that class )

Also, I went to college right after high school, but I was also a single mom at the time...I got enough financial aid to cover tuition and books, but nothing to pay for actually living.
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#18 of 62 Old 08-26-2010, 08:00 PM
 
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I worked full time at the university where I got my masters. They pay full tuition for anyone who works for them. I purposefully picked a low(ish) stress job - easy but not very fullfilling, which didn't matter since I only worked there a couple of years.

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#19 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 12:03 AM
 
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OP, can you give us some more info? Did grants cover your tuition and books? Or, was it covered by loans, too? I think most students who end up with living expenses money are taking out loans. It can be a good idea to supplement with student loans, under some circumstances, but, they can really be a burden after graduation - especially if you don't end up in a lucrative job. More info, please!
Also, you could start at the local community college - much cheaper - then transfer most credits to a 4 yr. institution to complete your bachelor's. There are ways to make it work, but, personally, I wouldn't go into too much debt unless you're specializing and anticipating a good paying job after graduation.
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#20 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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I am in grad school, paying tuition partly with a student loan (although I put aside an amount towards the loan every month so I can pay it off in full as soon as possible), getting alimony and child support, but I am also working 20 hours a week as a clerk, tutoring at another college and working summers at a second job. If there were any classes offered when my kids were in school I could manage more credits but everything is at night, so I only take 9 credits so I can actually see my kids sometimes. Could probably get an assistanceship however, the total money I would make would be less. Somehow everything works but it isn't easy.
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#21 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 01:00 AM
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It depends. I got enough in grants and scholarships to pay for my tuition and books and to live on, too (with the help of some other government subsidies, like section 8 and good stamps). OTOH, we were really poor...

 
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#22 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 02:05 AM
 
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FA really is only to cover school expenses, tuition and books if that... There should be no reason you cant work and go to school both.

Remember anythign that is a 'loan' needs to be repaid.

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#23 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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I don't think I've ever heard of financial aid covering more than the cost of tuition, living in a dorm, and sometimes books.

In a PhD program, there is often a small living stipend. But I've never heard of that for an undergrad or a MA course.

People work or take out loans or live off family for their living expenses. Usually a combination of the above.

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#24 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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Depends where you live. In Ontario, someone with dependents may receive a student loan of up to $23,000 per year, and only $10,500 remains repayable in the end (if you pass, etc.). The government pays your loan interest while you're still in school. The numbers may have changed slightly since I received loans several years ago.
Edit: that's for 12 months, and tuition for your standard undergrad would be $7500 or so for that time frame.

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#25 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 09:41 AM
 
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For our masters degrees, dh and I worked full time and took courses at night. We were both very lucky that our parents paid for our undergrad degrees.

There is a supermarket chain around here that will pay for a couple of college courses a semester if you work for them part time. That's a great deal for people who don't mind stretching out their degree over a few more years.
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#26 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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It really depends on a lot of things. Since dp and I are not married yet, they only take my income into consideration (and consider me a single mom). I worked a little last year, but only part time at a low paying job. For this fall I got $2775 in a Pell grant, $950 in a CAP grant and $480 in a Federal SEOG grant. So that's $4205 for the fall (I will get the same in the spring). I go to a community college so my tuition is $1975 per semester. That leave me with $2230 to pay for books (which I can usually get for about $400 each semester and that takes into account me selling books back from the previous semester) and other expenses. Even taking out the $400 for books and the $125 each semester for a parking pass that leave $1705 extra per semester. At the job I was working, with the hours I was working, that would have been about 14 weeks worth of working for me. The semester is only like 16 weeks long so in my case it does pay for me to go to school (I "earn" just slightly less through grants than I would if I had kept my regular part time job).

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#27 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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When I was working on my master's degree, I was offered enough in subsidized loans to cover my tuition+books, and was eligible for enough in unsubsidized loans that I probably could have lived pretty frugally on that money. I turned down the unsub loans (and in fact, part of the sub loans) and worked instead. Still ended up with 30K in loans (+ 12K left over from undergrad), but others in my program could end up 100K in debt.

But undergrad is different. At least when I was in undergrad there were pretty major limitations on how much you were allowed to be offered yearly in government-backed (Stafford) loans. Those limits don't exist for graduate school.
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#28 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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When I was working on my master's degree, I was offered enough in subsidized loans to cover my tuition+books, and was eligible for enough in unsubsidized loans that I probably could have lived pretty frugally on that money. I turned down the unsub loans (and in fact, part of the sub loans) and worked instead. Still ended up with 30K in loans (+ 12K left over from undergrad), but others in my program could end up 100K in debt.

But undergrad is different. At least when I was in undergrad there were pretty major limitations on how much you were allowed to be offered yearly in government-backed (Stafford) loans. Those limits don't exist for graduate school.
Sadly in grad school I did both the sub and unsub loans and have a high debt load. I think each semester I ended up with about 4-5K to use towards living expenses, at the time I was working pt so that extra helped fill in the gaps. But there was no way I could have lived off of it.

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#29 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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One thing that I haven't seen mentioned... some graduate programs do not allow students who are getting a stipend to work outside the university. My dh and I have both encountered this (at some schools/programs, not others)... the rational is that a graduate student stipend is paid because the student "works" for the university. An additional job would take away from the time spent at school. Around here a lot of grad students work for goods/services/discounts instead of money or go straight to barter in order to avoid having their stipends revoked.

The programs dh has been investigating (biomed, phd) offer stipends around 20-25k in addition to full tuition but expect students to be putting in 40+hrs/week for 4-5 years. We're a single income family of 5. There is just no way a 25k/year stipend will cover our living costs... but I haven't found a job that would let me cover the difference once child care for three is added in. We're brainstorming like mad and looking into lots of options but we'll probably end up taking out some loans as well.

Anyway, I think a lot depends on what sort of degree program you're in and what sort of student the school is used to dealing with. Like, a 20k stipend might be fine for one person, or even two...but maybe not for a family or as the only income. But if they expect most of their students to be single or able to work a PT job in addition to funding then they may not see the "problem". I know our local university offers affordable housing to student families... but only if you have two or fewer children. The birth of a third child terminates your housing contract!

Have you contacted your school's financial aid office, ombudsman, student life department, or similar to discuss options? Can they offer an assistantship? Point you towards grants available through your dept or field? Suggest a financial mentor?

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#30 of 62 Old 08-27-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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I just received my financial aid award letter and the amounts of aid offered just cover my tuition and books.

How do people afford to go back to school when they have kids, a mortgage and a car payment? I don't understand how others make this looks so easy.
I use a combinations of loans, grants and scholarships.



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Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
Indeed. I've encountered lots of undergrads lately who say they "can't" work because of school. I just laugh at the silliness.
I would not call it silliness. I was asked during the interview for my undergraduate program if I was financially prepared to not work for the next two years as the work load required complete dedication. We were given a schedule of our classes that did not include times and told to be available Monday - Friday from 8am to 5pm. I managed to obtain a copy of the schedule due to the fact that I have a child but I was asked not to share it with classmates. They will receive a copy the first day of class.



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Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned... some graduate programs do not allow students who are getting a stipend to work outside the university. My dh and I have both encountered this (at some schools/programs, not others)... the rational is that a graduate student stipend is paid because the student "works" for the university. An additional job would take away from the time spent at school. Around here a lot of grad students work for goods/services/discounts instead of money or go straight to barter in order to avoid having their stipends revoked.

The programs dh has been investigating (biomed, phd) offer stipends around 20-25k in addition to full tuition but expect students to be putting in 40+hrs/week for 4-5 years. We're a single income family of 5. There is just no way a 25k/year stipend will cover our living costs... but I haven't found a job that would let me cover the difference once child care for three is added in. We're brainstorming like mad and looking into lots of options but we'll probably end up taking out some loans as well.

Anyway, I think a lot depends on what sort of degree program you're in and what sort of student the school is used to dealing with. Like, a 20k stipend might be fine for one person, or even two...but maybe not for a family or as the only income. But if they expect most of their students to be single or able to work a PT job in addition to funding then they may not see the "problem". I know our local university offers affordable housing to student families... but only if you have two or fewer children. The birth of a third child terminates your housing contract!

Have you contacted your school's financial aid office, ombudsman, student life department, or similar to discuss options? Can they offer an assistantship? Point you towards grants available through your dept or field? Suggest a financial mentor?
Financing an education is not exactly black and white.

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