I’m not even joking when I say that the photo above, though a bit exaggerated, basically sums up your financial aid and acceptance letter in a nutshell. Second semester of senior year basically comes down to this: you’ve been accepted to the school of your dreams, but the one thing holding you back is your financial situation. Sometimes it seems that we’ve been so caught up in wanting to live our goals and attend our dream school that we somehow forgot just what exactly the cost and figures of tuition actually entail. I mean really, how bummed out would you be if you were accepted by the one school you’ve been dreaming of since you could spell the word “college”, only to be completely torn to pieces because it’s too expensive?
Luckily for you, sometimes the world works in mysterious ways and things fall into place. And when they do, boy oh boy, are we on cloud 9 or what?! Even though some of us (myself included) want to rip out our hair because of how stressful finances are, don’t fret–we’ve got some stories to prove to you that sometimes our finances work out for the better, leading you to the place where you’re sure to fit in.
Current college student and The Prospect writer Aida Guhlin explains: “When I was a senior, I applied to like, 22 schools, all in hopes of being accepted to one with full ride offers on the table, or at least something close enough. After my last dream school failed to provide the cash necessary for me to attend, I was pretty miserable. I was certain I would be attending a local state school, forced to live with my parents during college…Then, Texas A&M, another state school I had essentially written off, sent me their official award letter. My FAFSA had already told me my EFC was above the cost of attendance of Texas A&M, and I thought this meant that since there was no ‘demonstrated’ need, A&M wouldn’t pull through. But what I had forgotten about was a scholarship application I had half-heartedly filled out weeks before, the day it was due, only because they had sent me a reminder that it was due. I didn’t use nearly as much effort on it as I had for other schools.”
Even with this sort of thinking, any chance with a scholarship opportunity is one we should take, as Aida continues. “However, this scholarship was merit-based. It covered all of my tuition, and left some over for housing. I only needed a little bit of loan money, and it was basically the kind of college ride my parents had raised me to shoot for. I remember reading the award letter, running to my dad, and when he finished reading, asked: “Did I do it?” And he said “Yes. You did it.” It was the award letter to end all award letters I had received thus far.“
Even if it means that things don’t go according to how you envisioned it, sometimes following the better money trail will lead you to a mountain full of benefits, one that you may never have uncovered if it wasn’t for your financial situation.
“Don’t get me wrong – money has occasionally been tight, and I am still going to be paying loans in the future. But the deal offered to me was a lifesaver. I came to A&M, I explored, I changed majors, found my dream major and career, have enough money to attend a study abroad made for my major, have a paying job in my field thanks to the school, and honestly? Found the love of my life here. It may not have been everything I dreamed for at first – I wanted small classes, changing seasons, a certain idealized group of people – but it’s all turned out way better than I ever imagined, all because I filled out one more scholarship application when reminded.”
Although we’re not so lucky to have applied to more than 5 schools, sometimes it’s just one that seals the deal for you, as Delia Doe*, current freshman at the University of Texas – Pan American explains. “I always saw myself going to college…but, I didn’t know exactly how. Of course I filled in scholarships and FASFA–that was a give–but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get it. I thank God that I did receive scholarships, and I came to value them more when I realized that without these people giving, I wouldn’t of had gone to college.
Even when times are tough, and your social situation is in the waters, you can’t give up on college, as Delia Doe* continues. “I had the dream you see, and the faith, but thank God for the financial help I obtained because this is what made it possible. My brother attended college by FASFA…I on the other hand got nothing from FASFA. This made me treasure my four year, full ride scholarship more, and deeply value and be grateful for the other financial help that was available and I obtained. This aid is what made my knowing of going to college, actually happen. So thank God for financial aid!”
TL;DR: Even though most of us feel overwhelmed with our financial, economic, or social status, our circumstances shouldn’t define us. Trust me when I say that even though it seems like 99% of the time the world is trying to work against us, the 1% of the time that it works in our favor is a time to celebrate happiness and all the efforts you put into reaching your goals. Finances will always be an issue, regardless of age or status, but if you keep persevering, things are sure to go your way!
*Names have been changed to preserve the anonymity of certain individuals.