Let’s talk about money, shall we?
(Warning: This post may make you want to cry into a pillow.)
The very thought of student loans makes me actually want to vomit.
4.66% to 6.4% interest and even if you declare bankruptcy, you still have to pay?
God help me.

The first time I complained about the price of college to my grandparents, they laughed at me. They hadn’t seen a college tuition bill in a few decades, and when I told them just how much I had to pay per class in a city college where I was a state and city resident… well, let’s just say that jaws actually dropped.
Y’all.
College costs a lot of money.

Soooo much money.

How much money? Thanks to my time spent critiquing scientific articles and my time working in a research lab, any time I decide to rant (have a talk? Pull out my soapbox?), I do some research.
I graduated college a few years ago. And I’m still having myself a little anxiety attack over these numbers.

(Note: this is only for colleges in the United States. International folk, I know, I know, I’m sorry. But I know that at least some of y’all get free college education so this blog post may not be for you. Also, I am horribly jealous and would like to move to your country. Xo)
(Note number two: the numbers listed here are based on tuition and expenses for people who are residents of the state/city the college is located in unless otherwise specified.)

University of Ohio: $21,703 per year (housing included)
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA): $33,199 (living in a residence hall)
New York University: $21,873 per year, not including housing
University of Michigan: $6,825 per year, not including housing
The City University of New York (CUNY): $6,030 per year, not including housing. (They say that students living away from home, but are still NY residents should expect to spend an additional $19,984 a year. CUNY schools don’t have dorms.)
University of Kentucky: $5,232 per year, not including housing.

Yes, there are things like financial aid and scholarships and FAFSA and all those kinds of things. But there are also people who make just a little bit too much money to qualify for any financial help. There are the people who didn’t maintain straight A’s in high school, and still want to go to college. There are people who aren’t athletic, don’t play the bagpipe (or any other musical instrument for that matter), or any other achievement that would allow them to receive a scholarship. Or maybe they did achieve any of those things, and didn’t get a scholarship because scholarships can’t be given out to anyone.

College costs a lot of money.

There are some people who get a full scholarship to college, provided that they maintain a certain GPA or stay on a team. There are some people who only get a partial scholarship with the same requirements. There are some people who get one hundred dollars off tuition per year, which is both laughable and also a relief. There are some people whose parents can afford to pay their full tuition. And there are some people who have the entire burden of college tuition resting on their shoulders.
At some point or other, everyone in college thinks about their own finances.

For a lot of people, it’s the first time in their lives that they’re responsible for paying their own bills, from cell phone to doctor’s bills to car payments.

It’s a bit of a pin into the effervescent balloon that is NA sometimes, isn’t it?

A large part of my college experiences were because of my consciousness about money. I worked four part time jobs because that’s what it took. I know people who would snatch food from the cafeteria and hoard it like they’d never have another decent meal. I know people who would go to all sorts of meetings and speeches the college gave just for the free refreshments. People who would take naps in the school library because their rooms were too cold and nobody would fix the heating. People who walked everywhere instead of taking the bus because transportation adds up. People who never went out to dinner and lived on ramen noodles, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and old fruit and vegetables because they didn’t have the money for it.

Are there people who can afford to eat out and not hoard toilet paper and drive everywhere and live in lovely apartments with the heating working just fine? Of course there are.

Are there people who can afford to eat out and not hoard toilet paper and drive everywhere and live in lovely apartments with the heating working just fine, because they've taken out student loans to do so? Absolutely.

And ignoring those people and those stories would be a disservice to NA.

Just like ignoring the stories of those people who eat nothing but ramen for four years is a disservice to NA.

So the next time you’re writing a story set in college… maybe go with the 24 pack of toilet paper that made your MC’s day. Or the free pizza that was being served if you were part of a short experiment for one of the psych professors. Or that time she did her laundry in the sink because who can actually afford to wash their clothing in the washing machine? (Could be that love interest walks in and there’s her bra drying over a chair…) The possibilities are endless.

So are the bills :)

Post a Comment

  1. The financial hardship of college definitely needs explored a bit more! Snagging every free meal you can get, only eating once a day so you can buy beer at the end of the week, living off of peanut butter because it tastes good and fills you up--all very real struggles for a lot of college students. :)

    Great post!

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  2. Yesssssssss. Student loans and money are mentioned constantly in the book I'm currently writing. These parts of the story are so important! And real. Loved this post.

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  3. "People who walked everywhere instead of taking the bus because transportation adds up. People who never went out to dinner and lived on ramen noodles, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and old fruit and vegetables because they didn’t have the money for it."

    It's like you were describing me! LOL Great post. :D

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  4. Every Freshman at Vandy was required to have the meal plan, which only included dinner. A lot of us only ate that one meal, but I remember some of us stuffing grilled cheese sandwiches or cereal or pizza into to go cups ha. Good times. Great post!

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  5. I paid for Undergrad myself with student loans (many of which were Private loans and man oh man do I wish someone had told me what the difference was when I was in school). I'm also paying for grad school and everything you say is right. I went to BJ's and bought giant packs of the Cup of Noodles. Now I can hardly stand to look at them, and yet, still need to. I love this. College is so expensive, and none of us know what we're getting ourselves into when we accept those student loans that we'll spend the rest of our lives paying back.

    can you tell that I'm talking about myself here. I'm 27 and I haven't even made a dent in my payments. *sigh

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  6. This is a great reference for my next story where the MC will be really feeling the pinch. I had to work my way thru college and actually never got my degree bc I was plain tired of paying for it and had already found a worthwhile job that allowed me to see the world.
    Nowadays it's even MORE expensive, to a point where I'm explaining scholarships to my 8 and 10 year old all the time.

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