The Logistics of Privilege (Or, How It Works When Your Parents Pay for Your Education)

Last week I wrote a little bit aboute how I did money in college (my parents paid for everything, basically, save a little bit of spending money I earned myself), and I asked a bunch of other people how the logistics of paying for their own education worked. These are responses from folks who mostly had their educations and living expenses paid for. Next time: Responses from people who paid for their education themselves. 

“My parents paid for my college. They paid tuition and rent and for my meal plan. I worked over the summers to make my “spendin’ money” for the year, i.e. i had it pretty easy. It was good for me because I didn’t have to think about money or work very hard. It was bad for me because i could have learned important lessons about the value of a dollar. It probably made me lazy. However, since graduation they haven’t given me a dime. Except a couple times when I borrowed like $500, which I later paid back. This was when I was in debt—from credit cards—and desperate. Much like you are now.” — WI

“My parents paid for my college—they’d been saving for our college educations since before we were born. They also paid my rent. They transferred the rent money to me each month and I wrote the check. They gave me extra for groceries each month, but I had to pay for eating out and going out. Which I paid for with jobs, and savings from jobs in high school. Since I was 12 I had to buy anything I wanted with my own money, so I learned to save.” — M

“I had my tuition paid for by because my dad retired on disability. I also got a stipend from the government for spending money. I took a part time job that I saved every dime to pay for my summers in Los Angeles, where I interned each summer. My parents also supplemented my income with $200 to $300 a month. They continued to be crucial in getting me set up after college to, when I moved across the country.” —GB

“My parents paid for my college. The first year of college, they paid for a meal plan, but all discretionary money was up to me, so worked part-time. After freshman year and studying abroad, I had to pay for stuff like books and my cell phone and car insurance. We worked out a deal my last year when I got a $10k scholarship that they would help me buy a car with it. So I have a used Honda that I got then that still runs great.” —MA

“My mom paid for my college. And when I moved off campus, she paid my rent and gave me the equivalent of what she was spending on the dining hall previously for food. I had a job, like ten or twelve hours a week, and that was my money. But sometimes I needed more, so I just asked for it, and gobbled it up like the greedy little heathen I am. I went to a fancy school where everyone had money, so if I didn’t, I was screwed. Sign this, ‘a piglet I know.’” —MI

 

Share your education-payment logistics: logan@thebillfold.com

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44 Comments / Post A Comment

DON (#706)

What? No one had to consult the divorce agreement every other month in order to obtain a college degree? Weird.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@DON You are not alone my friend.

DillyBean (#483)

@DON On the upside, it made being a financially independent adult feel pretty damn fantastic.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@DillyBean Omigod, fourth-ed. I’m glad to hear others suffered this. I ended up having student loans that I didn’t even know I had because I thought one of my parents had paid, but apparently I did…

Slutface (#53)

Oh my God. I’m so jealous of you all. I had a scholarship my first year, then loans the rest of my college career. I worked two jobs and three during the summer to pay tuition, rent, books, car ins, car payment, etc… My parents didn’t plan for college at all and actually made fun of me for wanting to get an education. I never realized what supportive parents were like until I went to college and saw how my roommates parents were. I’ll be paying off college for a long, long time, but it was worth it.

wearitcounts (#772)

@Slutface as someone who had a similar experience to the people above, i have to say, as lucky as i know i am, i wish i’d been taught a little more fiscal responsibility. you have worked hard and you still are working hard to be where you are and have what you have. you’ve learned skills that you’ll be the better for, for the rest of your life. i’m working on all that now, at age 28. so, lucky, yes. but underprepared! (i in no way mean this to belittle what my parents have done for me–they’re aces.)

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@wearitcounts I don’t know, I had to pay for college mostly myself (my parents didn’t have very much money but they paid about a third of it) and I’m still trying to learn fiscal responsibility. That loan/scholarship money flowing in is just as easy to live off as the parental money. Even though I was doing work-study and all that.

wearitcounts (#772)

@WaityKatie true enough. there are all kinds of ways to spend money you don’t have, unfortunately.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

College was a mix of parental help and loans for me. I do feel like i was pretty clueless going into it. I knew how much money we’d have to borrow but I honestly had no concept of what that amount really meant. Mostly because i was EIGHTEEN and knew nothing about anything like most 18 year olds. I did work study etc. but at the end of the day i ended up being a little surprised by my debt and a very surprised by my parents debt. They advised me to go wherever i wanted and not worry about money and I took them at their word. Had I been working with more complete information I would have made different choices. Long story short, it’s nice to have supportive parents, but it’s also nice if they’re realistic.

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@EvanDeSimone My parents were also in the “wildly unrealistic” camp. Neither of them had been helped by their parents, and only my mother got a college degree, so I think saving for college was something that never occurred to them. I always did well in school, so I think they expected me to receive full scholarships. I DID receive very generous merit scholarships, but my parents were super disappointed to learn that meant approximately 6,000 per year, not 25,000.

They helped me my first year. Everything else every year after that I took out loans to cover, and I worked continuously throughout college to pay my rent/food expenses.

Like you, I might have applied to different places if they had been honest with me about what our financial situation was. Eighteen year olds are NOT well-equipped in making these decisions alone. I say that as someone who now teaches high school.

endofherleash (#201)

I lived off campus and worked on campus all through college, and my entire tuition was paid with loans (plus pell grants and a few small scholarships). Instead of continuing to pay my mom child support when I started school, my dad put the money directly in my account every month. I live in a major city, so that barely covered my rent, utilities, and loan payments that I had to make while still in school. Credit card bills, groceries, and anything else I paid for myself. Since I always lived in apartments as opposed to dorms I have drastically less loans than I could have ended up with, and when I graduated there was no rocky transition into the real world… the payments from my dad stopped, I found a job that I love that happens to pay well enough, and I’m generally making it work. After typing this I realized how lucky I am even though I’ve always felt shitty for having so much debt.

Beans (#1,111)

My parents paid for my tuition, housing, and food for all 4 years with the understanding that I would be completely on my own, financially-speaking, post-graduation. Once I moved off-campus and off-meal plan during my junior year, it did feel a little weird for them to give me actual money instead of just paying the school, however. I wasn’t accustomed to being handed the cold hard cash.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Beans I had the same deal BUT with no rule about being on my own after graduation! I had it super sweet, there is no other way around it. My parents are older and just in general responsible as shit with money. They also paid for graduate school when I went back a while later! It’s cray how lucky I am. They are not even rich, just good at saving (we had this thing called Texas Tomorrow Fund where you could freeze tutition costs and save the money there which they started when I was a child AND my grandfather who died when I was a child had out aside money as well instead of ever giving me gift-gifts.)

M is funny. “Since I was 12 I had to buy anything I wanted with my own money” comes right after “My parents paid for my college… They also paid my rent… They gave me extra for groceries each month.”

I started college when I was 21, four years after I’d graduated high school and subsequently moved out on my own so I never once thought my parents would pay for it. I did apply to attend college right after HS but even then I knew I’d be taking out a loan for it because post-secondary was not something my cash-strapped, religious parents prioritized or saved for.

I paid for my own college with loans and part-time jobs. I always expected to have it paid off by the time I’m 35 and with three years and $5500 to go that’s looking likely.

Titania (#489)

@Deb of last year@twitter Without being snarky about your observation, I would just point out that most people don’t consider food or a place to live something they “want” so much as something they need, and those are things that parents traditionally provide for their children. An education, depending on your circumstances (as illustrated in the story and in your comment and others) may or may not be something parents consider a “need” and/or something they provide for their child, but it was in my family and probably in M’s family too. I’m well aware that that’s just luck of the draw, and I’m incredibly grateful for all the privilege I was afforded. I know what M means–I’m a saver, and I was raised to save, and I’m good at it now too, because that’s how I was raised, even though that is certainly a function of always having enough extra money that could be saved.

I have immense respect for people who educate themselves in the way that you did–there were a lot of nontraditional-age students at my school, and they were palpably the real adults in the midst of our collegiate playpen. That wasn’t me, but the financial planning and savings skills I learned by managing my own spending money growing up, as M did, are definitely real and do apply to my adult life, regardless of the fact that I acquired them in a low-stakes situation instead of a high-stakes one like yours.

wearitcounts (#772)

@Titania this is the exact thing i was thinking, but did not know the right way to express. well articulated.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Titania Yeahhh, but you aren’t really a “child” anymore at 18. I think one’s parents continuing to pay living expenses at that age and beyond is an incredible privilege! Also, it’s easier to be a saver when you have some money to save. Thank god for work-study, because that was the only money I had in college to cover books, clothes, late-night pizza, going out, etc. And it wasn’t very much, so basically I didn’t do much of anything. (also thank god nobody gave me a credit card until my senior year because that would have been disaster). I’m not blaming anyone for my poor financial skills, but I think a lot of times people just have this idea that all or most people have parents footing the bill for “basics” into their 20′s, and that is just not so.

zimm (#2,228)

My parents pay my tuition and for my on-campus housing and my crunchy ‘co-op’ meal plan (300 to 500 a semester). If I went to an out-of-state school, I would have to pay the difference between instate tuition and out-of-state/private tuition. They also pay for books, car insurance and my cell phone. I don’t work while I’m at school but I work full time with a long-ish commute (45 min) over the summer and during winter/spring breaks because I would feel lazy if I didn’t. I use this money for gas/going out/whatever I don’t want to ask my parents for pay for (most things) and save a lot of it for when I have to pay my living expenses.

This is really interesting to me, but uncomfortable to discuss in person.

My grandmother willed most of her money to my siblings’ and my educations. My parent paid our tuition with it and gave us the amount of money it’d cost for a meal plan in residence, whether or not we stayed in residence. My brother and I worked summer jobs, were decently financially responsible and paid our own way for our Masters’ degrees with jobs, stipends and scholarships. My sister has champagne tastes and constantly bummed money off our parents and is now considering self-funding a Master’s. My younger brother was told he could go to any university in the world using that money except the one in our home town. After one year at another university he decided he wanted to live in our home town and dropped out of university to do it.

never (#2,071)

I got scholarships that covered 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of my tuition/dorm/meal plan freshman through junior year and which covered about 1/2 my tuition senior year. My parents paid the rest of my tuition all years and transferred money into my bank account each month for rent senior year. I paid for my books and spending money all years, and groceries/bills my senior year, out of savings from my summer jobs.

When I graduated, I had zero debt, and my parents had $20K on their credit cards (most of that was actually not from me directly, it was because of random emergencies like dental work for my dad, but since I ate up so much of their money in tuition/etc costs it was my debt indirectly). I moved in with them for a couple years after college and paid them rent — way under market value in their (very expensive) area, but enough to pay the utilities/groceries/etc expenses I was tacking onto their bills and give them a few extra bucks as well. I also put money toward re-doing their basement (we split the cost). When they got out of debt I moved out.

Since then, I’ve gone through a long period of un-/under-employment and had to ask for their help during a couple emergencies (shockingly high dental bill — despite insurance! — etc). They weren’t going to support me, but when I would get to the end of my rope they’d slip me a couple hundred to keep me going. I’m now living comfortably and have no debt (credit or otherwise).

My grandma also bought me a car when I graduated college. I’m still on my parents’ car insurance — that’s the only money I get from them now.

For context, my mom is a high school teacher, my dad is long-term unemployed (cartoonist), and my grandma is a widower. She worked in retail and her husband (my grandpa) worked for the federal govt. I’m an only child and my grandma’s only grandchild, and even now, she and my parents spoil me completely. I’m grateful for it — it has given me a huge leg up.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@never Sounds like your dad passed down the bad teeth gene. =/

never (#2,071)

@bgprincipessa I had entire teeth covered in metal by the time I was five. How can so few teeth have so many cavities?!

sony_b (#225)

I was a faculty brat at a big private school in downtown LA. My dad hated it, but stayed until he retired so my sister and I could get the free ride. My poor dad. I dropped out of high school, then did the junior college thing and transferred into the school as a second semester sophomore. My sister went to a state school.

USC’s deal only covered tuition though – we still had to come up with all the other fees, housing, food, etc. My dad and I had a deal that if I got in he would give me the cash to cover the basics but nothing extra, and if I wanted to work I could. I did work and didn’t have the brains to save any money.

I started grad school at 33 and I paid for myself. 43k in loans and counting…

Crabtree (#774)

My parents told me that I would have to pay half my tuition/rent, but then I got a scholarship in my hometown that paid half my tuition. I was invited to live at home (for free) and was told by my parents that my scholarship covered my half of my tuition. I worked all through university and paid for my bus pass, cell phone, textbooks, and fun. (and I made sure to be a good house mate and make dinner sometimes etc) I spent my third year abroad and I was supposed to be funding rent and travel all by myself, but my mom wired me her money instead mine when I opened a UK savings account. My first Masters was completely free since my scholarship/TA position paid enough for everything but food and trips home.
My most recent Masters ( a professional one this time) didn’t have any scholarships but my parents paid for my tuition because I “wasn’t an expensive kid.” I live in Canada so tuition wasn’t at US levels but I’m really spoiled by my parents in that way. They gave me the gift of a free education and I don’t want to ever spoil that with credit card debt.

sea ermine (#122)

My college was paid for by a combination of my parents, scholarships, loans, and a teeny teeny tiny bit by myself.

I didn’t qualify for in state tuition in my home state (or any state) so I went to an out of state school that gave me an academic scholarship that was big enough that my tuition was $1,000 less than what in state students paid. I also received loans as part of my financial aid package (both subsidized and unsubsidized) and took out a little over $16,000 in loans over the 4 years I was in school.

My parents paid the rest of my tuition and fees and room and board (I lived on campus all 4 years). I didn’t have a meal plan so they gave me $100 a month and since I didn’t go out or eat out I used all of that for groceries and toiletries. They started saving for my education when I was a baby. On top of that I was encouraged to save for college, even though I wasn’t making much money. Anytime I received money more than $50 (for example, if my grandparents gave me a check for my birthday or something) half would go into the bank. When I started working at age 16 at the end of the job I could take $200 of what I had made to to spend and buy new clothes or whatever, the rest went into the bank. I didn’t have a bank account until I was 18 but before that I could give my money to my dad and he’d put it into an account for me, and then into a CD when I had enough. Those CDs weren’t much but they covered my books and miscellaneous expenses my first year of college.

Once I was in college I felt pretty bad (also very lucky) that my parents were footing the bill for college so I applied for hundreds upon hundreds of jobs during the school year, but never got any of them. It was 2008 there was a recession, and it was a middle of nowhere college town without a lot of jobs. I didn’t have a car and couldn’t drive so I couldn’t look for employment outside of what was walking/biking distance from the school. I finally qualified for work study my last two semesters of college and was able to work on campus. However, I came home during breaks and so I always worked then (up until my parents moved out of the US) and, just like in high school, banked all but $200 and used the money for books and supplies and miscellaneous expenses throughout the year. I feel absurdly lucky that my parents contributed so much to my college educations, because of my work situation without them I would have either taken on the entire tuition in loans or dropped out.

Then I graduated but had no savings, couldn’t move home, and couldn’t get a job (even something like stocking books) so my parents very very very generously decided they would support me financially (by paying my rent, bills, and giving me food and transportation money). Since then my job has been to apply for jobs from 8am-8pm and they are basically paying my salary. They also gave me the money I needed to secure an apartment and helped me out with getting stuff like a fan and cleaning supplies and other house stuff. I save every receipt and keep an excell spreadsheet of every cent they give me and where it goes so that I can one day pay them back. Right now I owe my parents more money than I took out in student loans, and I still don’t have a job.

Part of me feels incredibly lucky and grateful and another part of me feels unbelievably spoiled. I’m also frustrated because I’ve always tried to be as independent as possible and I really really wanted to be able to do this on my own and the fact that I still can’t even get a minimum wage job (even part time!) is extremely disheartening, especially since I’ve had this problem ever since I moved to the US when I was 18. I feel like there isn’t enough information out there for people who really truly want to be able to do these things independently. I know people do it, but I wish I knew more about how they did it so that I could have an idea of what to go on. I read up on it a lot before graduation while trying to figure out how I would do it and there was always a part in the story where they mentioned that they had friends whose couches they crashed on, or they could move home for a bit, or they were able to find part time work, or they were allowed to keep their previous job when they graduated, or at least they had grown up in the country they were from, and so they had a support system there. I am lucky in many ways but I had none of those things and so I really wasn’t sure what to do or where to go…which is why I am now borrowing money from my parents just to eat and have a roof over my head.

This makes me so glad I live in the UK. My parents contributed to my living costs as an undergraduate, but the state loaned me the tuition fee money and some of my living costs. If my parents’ income was low I would have also received a means-tested bursary. I worked a variety of jobs throughout my undergrad degree to pay for things like travel, gifts and other luxuries. I’ve been very lucky.

Now I’m on a graduate course, and luckily have a full scholarship (fees and a living stipend).

OllyOlly (#669)

I was offered a scholarship of abuot 50% at my safety school, so I went there and my parents paid the rest. They would have been willing to pay for me to go somewhere more expensive, but I could see the look in my mothers eyes when she thought about saving that $100,000, so I let her guilt me into it. In hindsight, DUH! going to a slightly better school for $100,000 more would not have been worth it. My parents paid for food, shelter, and my transportation. I didn’t have to work during the semester, but worked over the summers.(And an eternally thankful for being born into a wealthy family)

Having a boyfriend whose parents could have helped pay for college but didn’t, I have seen first hand how having you education financed can really be a quality of life issue. He worked full time while taking full or over-full courseloads, he always had too little sleep and too much stress. He luckily found a job, but still took on a second part time job to cover his $400 a month loan payments.

I really hope I will be able to pay for my kids to attend college.

Aunt_Pete (#693)

My parentals gave me $500.00 a month, paid for plane tickets home, and sent care packages with things like shampoo and peanut butter. I thought it was generous of them. There were no surprises in my family. For as long as I can remember I was told that college was my responsibility.

I had a legacy from my grandmother that paid for my first year. The other three were financed by loans and some savings (I tried to save the $500 each month for tuition time). I worked about ten hours a week for spending money and full time in the summer to decrease the loans I needed for the next year.

Sorbee (#2,256)

My parents were/are incredibly smart about sending us 3 kids to college. My dad has worked at my alma mater for 30+ years at this point; my parents made a decision to stay at his job so they could take advantage of the 75% tuition discount. Knowing they wouldn’t have to save for years and years for our education allowed my mom to stay home with us when we were small and kept me and my brothers out of debt upon graduation. When we all graduated high school, my parents said they would contribute whatever the bill would be after my dad’s benefit where ever we went, meaning I could either get a full ride at my nationally-recognized state school or have to finance 75% (or more!) of my education on my own if I attended anywhere else. It was a no-brainer and I was thrilled with my decision and the education I received.

My parents did pay to live in the dorms/college apartments (even though my childhood home was 20 minutes down the road) because they didn’t want us to miss out on any part of the college experience. That part was pretty great. I do wonder what going to college away from my small hometown would have been like, but I left and started exploring the big city when I graduated (and at that point, felt no guilt about burning through my own money.)

Rooster A (#1,620)

Me: scholarships, grants, part-time job (full-time in the summers), loans to pay for three successive degrees. I knew this was the only way higher education would happen for me, and lots of times I considered not going to college at all, let alone grad school.

Most of my music major buddies in undergrad and grad school: tuition and all expenses paid for their parents, grandparents, etc.

I learned pretty quickly (within my first semester as an undergrad) that I was wasting money I didn’t have, as well as my only opportunity for an education, if I tried to keep up with their paid-for lifestyle of skipping classes, rarely practicing (music majors, remember), and spending money on anything and everything. Sadly, I ended up walking away from most of those friends to save my skin.

Today I’m one of the few from my old undergrad and grad circles who is lucky enough to actually get paid to perform classical music, but I also have to have a day job because those student loans are never going to die and nutrition is important.

In hindsight, the doctorate really wasn’t necessary. It was just an expensive way to make people call me Dr. Rooster A.

catalania (#2,285)

It’s interesting to me that all of the people quoted in this post have had jobs at one point or another. Coming from a upper/middle-class dominated university in the UK, it’s not uncommon for people to graduate without ever having had a job, either at school or university. Is that completely unheard of in the USA? I suppose university is cheaper over here (my cohort is paying £3000 tuition fees per year; it’s just gone up to £9000) so parents can afford to subsidise their children more in other ways?

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@catalania I think there’s a lot of variation between your sort-of standard liberal arts schools or state universities and the more “elite” prestigious private schools. The small liberal arts college I went to had mostly middle-class students and virtually everyone did work-study or had an off-campus job, but then I went to a more prestigious/famous law school and the people I knew who had gone to that school’s undergrad college did not have jobs, and it seemed very uncommon for students at that school to ever have had jobs. Financial aid was pretty uncommon there too. So you had people’s parents paying (at that time) around $30k per year, PLUS giving them full spending money, buying them mini-fridges and tvs and computers, etc. etc. Craziness.

never (#2,071)

@catalania I think that’s a cultural difference between the US and the UK (and a lot of Europe). There are financial responsibilities that a student in the US might have that a student in Europe doesn’t, and that definitely throws in that extra tinge of desperation to the side-job search, but in general I think jobs are so strongly encouraged and people in this thread are so careful to mention that they’ve worked jobs and when because working for money is a cultural symbol of independence here — and independence is the prime virtue in America, at least right now.

minijen (#656)

When I was younger, there was always a vague assumption that I would go to college, and that my parents would help. I was in AP classes and had already been offered some small scholarships to some decent, but obscure schools due to GPA and test scores. By the time I was 16, however, home life was intolerable and unsafe, so I accelerated my senior year, graduated and moved out. The repercussions can still be felt. Because I wasn’t emancipated and was under 24, I was considered a dependent on my parents, even as I struggled to make enough money to survive. (I was actually making too little to qualify for federal work-training programs!) Because my parent’s income was in the upper 5 figures, I didn’t qualify for grants, and I’d need their help to get loans – which wasn’t going to happen. I scraped together what money I could, when I could, to pay for a class at a time, and still eat. Eventually, I came of student loan-worthy age, and was able to finish up my AA. The loans allowed me to quit one of my jobs, so I could focus on school, but it took me a long time to understand the horror of compounding interest. It was 10 years from high school graduation to a 2 year degree.

After getting the AA, I moved to a larger town, with a state school, to get my Bachelor’s degree. With 2 jobs and 2-3 classes at a time, it was still a struggle, but I felt like I was getting somewhere. Then I was in a car accident that kept me out of school and work for several months, and settlement barely covered the bills – and I lost the jobs. Putting school on the back burner, I pulled myself back up and focused on taking care of the basics. As soon as I got stabilized, I started taking some night classes. A kidney infection + no health insurance + a week of hospitalization = bankruptcy. Once again unto the fray…

I’m now at a fairly stable job, and have started back to school. Again. Only 2 years left. Unfortunately, years of compounding interest, deferments and loans taken with the assumption that all would work out in the end has given me a nightmare of a student loan burden. But, even if I don’t get a nice shiny new job with my new degree, I’ll still be able to handle the loans. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about money over the years, and have been chipping away, slowly and steadily. This wasn’t the life I anticipated, but this is the life that is MINE.

sventurata (#27)

@minijen that last line is great. Good luck and take care. Congratulations on your hard-earned autonomy.

dudeascending (#1,921)

My dad is a professor at a university, so I went there for free. My parents did pay for housing during the school year for three years, which wasn’t insignificant.

It was, frankly, my last-choice school, but I didn’t get into school I wanted. I choose to attend it in a fit of pique–like, “Well, everything is RUINED NOW, so I might as well go here.” I worked on campus all three years, and for two crazy semesters, had another part-time job as well.

Looking back, holy shit, I was so, so, SO lucky.

readyornot (#816)

Many of the comments come from people who had some sort of scholarship, and I’m curious why that possibility didn’t figure in to the possibilities along with “student paid own way” and “parents mostly paid.” I also think the really interesting stories are not so much in the logistics but in the choice. For me, and presumably for others, there were less expensive and more expensive options. With the vast uncertainty that comes with a teenager’s future, I’m sure one can’t do any concrete cost-benefit analyses on those tradeoffs. But a lot of thought does go into the making of the decision. Certainly I think about my decision differently twelve years down the road than I did at the time.

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@readyornot Yeah, scholarships definitely factored into my decision. I went to the “safety school” (public state school) I applied for because they offered me the same amount of money in merit scholarships as the private schools I actually wanted to attend.

I was miserable about this choice at the time. I never developed any real love of my college. BUT I have way less debt than I otherwise would, and what I have is enough that I am grateful EVERY SINGLE DAY for my choice.

sea ermine (#122)

@readyornot Scholarships were the biggest factor in deciding where I went to school. I didn’t qualify for in state tuition but my parents made it clear that that’s all they could afford so I had to look for an out of state school that would give me a scholarship big enough that it made up the difference. Fortunately I found one but when I ended up hating the school and the area I was stuck there because financial aid for transfers is known for being terrible.

sventurata (#27)

@seaermine I hear you. I chose my mid-range school and wanted to transfer out to my top choice after second year. That would have been a $30K mistake once living expenses were calculated.

I am in the extraordinarily lucky position of never having to pay for school ever. For undergrad, I went to my state college because they offered a full merit scholarship (down to a book stipend) to try to trick smart people into going to their school instead of an Ivy League. Which worked, I guess, mostly because my dad was like “don’t be a dumbass, if you’re a scientist nobody cares where you went to undergrad.” I kind of hated it, but I’m glad in retrospect.

Then I did a science PhD which is fully funded. If you count tuition remission and my postdoc stipend (from grants, mainly) including the next 3 years, over 15 years of education it adds up to over $600,000 (What? What. I just did that math for the first time what.) A good third of that is “graduate school tuition” which is kind of made-up money, though.

My parents paid the entirety of my undergrad education – tuition, room & board, meals, books, etc. My responsibility was for spending money so I worked for that in the summers. They started saving for my education when I was a baby. When I got my college acceptance letters and was trying to decide where to go my father said this “We have enough money saved to pay for four years of college entirely. The money is yours: you could also decide to spend it on a wedding. Your call.” I looked at him like he was insane, “A wedding? Uh, no, I’m going to college.” and he replied “Good girl. Enjoy yourself.”. I was incredibly lucky and remain incredibly grateful.

For grad school, they paid the tuition and I had to get a grant (first year) to pay for my living expenses. This was back in the days before fire and the wheel when you could still get some X amount of money from the Canadian government for higher ed and were guaranteed a good portion of it in straight grants. The second year I had to take it as a loan, which I paid off about 5 years after I graduated.

catalania (#2,285)

@never That is interesting! By way of contrast, at Oxford we’re not allowed to have jobs during term-time (this was also the case at my secondary school, which was what we would call a public but you would call a private school) and when we first arrived, the Dean of our College gave us a whole speech about how historically (i.e. up to about twenty years ago) it would have been considered deeply degrading and bizarre for students to have ever had a job (since they were supposed to be gentlemen), but now we’re all liberal and progressive and they totally understand that some people need to work in the holidays! But not in termtime. And I can confirm that amongst a fairly large section of the university populace, the assumption is still that your parents will totally support you financially and leave the holidays free for study, travel, unpaid internships etc. I don’t think it would ever occur to most of my (rich) friends to take pride in being self-sufficient.

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