‘I Had No Idea How Much of a Gift This Was Until I Was a Couple Years Out of School’

If you were lucky enough to go to college or grad school, someone paid for it. Your parents, grandparents, yourself, the state, the school. We’ve invited readers to share their stories of financing education. Here’s one from reader LS: 

“My family doesn’t really talk about money. To this day I have no idea how much money my parents make. But the one thing I always knew about money was that my parents were going to pay for four years of undergraduate school, wherever my brother and I wanted to go. It was always just a given, because that’s what their parents did for them. I had no idea how much of a gift this was until I was a couple of years out of school, and some of my friends were putting over half of their monthly income toward loan payments. 

“I attended a public university in my home state, and my parents paid for tuition, housing, books, and food, plus a little extra to cover basic necessities. I had a couple of part-time jobs, but most of my time was focused on school. My senior year of college, I found out about a month-long, graduate-level summer program in my chosen field at an out-of-state university. People working in the industry would be speaking and leading workshops, and it sounded like exactly what I needed to land the job I wanted. The problem was, it cost $5,000, which was about $4,900 more than I had.

“I nervously called my parents, and they agreed to front the cost of the program if I would pay to get myself there and back and pay for any additional costs that came up during the month. We also agreed that I would pay them back as soon as I had a job. The program turned out to be everything I’d hoped it would be, and it helped me land my first real job that fall. With the first paycheck of every month, I paid my parents $500. Handing over than last check ten months later was a huge weight off my shoulders.”

How did you finance your education? (Or, if you didn’t go to college, how did you finance your first years out of high school?) logan@thebillfold.com


8 Comments / Post A Comment

Kate (#1,408)

I can’t see this picture without thinking “SEC-REH-TER-REH!”

Do most people know how much money their parents make? I could probably guess now, and be right give or take about $40,000, but I certainly had no idea as a kid/young adult.

Blackbird (#2,196)

@MilesofMountains I have a general idea, but only gained that idea starting near the end of high school because I just did the rude thing and asked. I think I was trying to figure out our overall income bracket, or taking the first stumbling steps into being self-conscious about class. And I’ve maintained a rough idea due to the complete pain the ass that is the FAFSA. But when I was younger I had no clue whatsoever.

fake coffee snob (#2,227)

@MilesofMountains My parents refuse to tell me to this day, but I know a lot of my peers’ parents sat down with them during the college search process and lay out all the family finances to make the decision as transparent as possible, which I think is wise.

@Blackbird Yeah, I had to fill out the FAFSA with my parents every year, but I didn’t really know before then.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@fake coffee snob
That is so, so wise. I think it’s really important for young adults to see how their parents do money so they can learn from it

The alt-text on that photo is phenom.

Kzinti (#1,805)

I (unfortunately) married during my senior year of high school, but my mom made it very clear that I must attend college. I took a year off between high school and college because I felt I “deserved” it. I had worked every summer since I was about 13 at my dad’s burger shop and also during the school year when I moved in with him for my last two years of high school (because my room at my mom’s house had been crushed by a tree during a hurricane and I was “in love” with a guy I had met while living with my dad during the summer, so wanted to stay there). I ended up marrying a different guy while on the rebound from the “in love” guy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I worked my way through community college, with some help from my dad. I also worked my way through the the last two years of my BS at at university, again, with some help from my dad, but mostly on my own.

I did not take out student loans and I guess I don’t understand why people take out large sums of student loans. I’m assuming that they think they need to go to specific universities to make a living, but I don’t think that is the case. In addition to my education, I scored in the top ten in my state on the CPA exam, and I’ve worked very hard to be successful in my career.

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