I will graduate without any debt. Yes, I am the rarest of the rare from the middle to bottom class. If there is one thing that I hear a lot from my friends in academia, it is the mountain of debt they are carrying, or will have when they graduate. The cries and complaining about the cost of tuition and textbooks fees are heard everywhere. I only have a couple of fellow students, that I know of, who do not have debt, and who do not work. They have what are called parent approved money arrangements, and they are considered the luckiest of all students.
The first thing you are probably thinking is that they have super rich parents. There are some students who have this arraignment, but they are even more rare than my circumstance. No, these students have parents who planned ahead and invested in their child’s future long before he or she embarked into academia. When mom and dad started putting money away years before, they looked into the future and saw what they wanted as a sound investment for their child’s future. Sadly, only less than seventeen percent of parents actually do start college funds for their children (Stats Canada: 2002).
So what happened to me?
Well, I am considered a mature student. It was well a decade after I had left high school and started in the labour force. This meant that I had no outside support when I decided to make that jump back into a post secondary education. I remember the day that I stood at the crossroads of whether or not I should opt into a student loan. The best decision I ever made was not pursuing that path because the interest rates for such loans are almost as bad as what a loan shark would give you, and I would have not qualified for the loan anyway. When I started investigating the loan options, I remember the Banks asking me for credit information and found that you needed a co-signer if you were to take classes full-time. So I did the pay-as-you-go student approved method.
I kept on working and became a student, paying for my classes at the beginning of each semester. Sadly, there were painful moments along the way. There were times when money was so tight that food was a problem, and facing an eviction from my landlord almost made me homeless. In fact, the government of Canada told me that I should not be in school, that I should focus on being a labourer for the rest of my life. I think everyone here knows what I think of Stupid Harper and Gordo Campbell. *Wink* I ignored them all and kept on going forward.
I stand now with owning nothing to anyone. As I look back, the cost of paying up front is so much less than through loans, and that it makes good economic sense to save and pay-as-you-go. If you can save before you hit the books, then good on you! For most of us, our parents did not have the foresight to look ahead and plan, as they were probably struggling themselves throughout their lives. So, as a student, you must make that critical decision on what path you choose to take.
- Do not depend on your government
- Make it easy on your parents; try and be as independent as possible
- Plan ahead and make a budget.
- Stick to your budget
- Have a contingency plan
- Be prepared to live on four hours of sleep to accommodate work and classes—it is it worth in the end.
- Network like crazy for that dream job after you graduate.
This is the Tee in perspective.