Finance Friday

Finance Friday: 5 Ways to Make College Within Reach

Just in case people thought that education was afforded to all Americans on the same merits, recently we found out through a resounding revelation with actress Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin that it is not. After the news broke, I think many people really started to think about the real privilege​​ of education is in the US for some. For me, this College Admission Scandal was not new, nor was it shocking. It was just further confirmation that the Education System in the US is broken and needs to be repaired before the next generation takes charge.

5 Ways to Make College Within Reach

The richest kids in America can receive education on the basis of the economics of their parent’s wealth. Not necessarily because they out-performed other students. This is one of the reasons why, African-Americans students are sometimes taught by their parents they have to be “twice as good, and go above and beyond” what their peers of a different hue may be doing. While the cliche “money talks” is known, it is undoubtedly true in all areas of the US: such as healthcare, career placement, housing, and of course, education. Simply put, having money (especially as it relates to the education system in the US) gives people more options that are often out of reach for those who are less fortunate.

The Education System in the US is Broken

After being bombarded with seeing and hearing hundreds of related news stories, I resolved that our educational system is broken. There are black mothers who are going to jail for putting the wrong zip code on their child’s application and placing their children in schools outside of their districts. Just read this news story, “Ohio Mom Kelley Williams-Bolar Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District.” There are also, people who are struggling to stay afloat and can’t juggle it all like Ms. Parker from the story below.

Ms. Parker’s story moved me to tears. I remember when I was in college and my mother did not have credit so she could not take a loan for me to stay in school. I worked 3 jobs while getting my degrees, so I can relate to Ms. Parker’s struggles. Amazingly, I was able to finish my education and I never had to drop out. The English department at my former university even provided me with an academic scholarship that helped as well. The troubling part is that some families, literally are weighing whether or not they can eat while trying to concentrate on school and learning under those conditions are almost impossible.

5 Ways to Make College Within Reach

Although, Ms. Parker’s experience is extremely upsetting. How can families avoid ending up in that situation? Frankly, moms and dads even those who are living from paycheck to paycheck can start making sacrifices so their children will have more options in the future. Here are a few things families can start doing right now to make a college education within reach for their children?

Save.

Put aside as little as $20 a month beginning with the birth of your child and through compounding interest, your child’s education savings will start to accrue. (Are you are financially strapped? Then consider offering your expertise or unique skill to someone for $20. You could also sell your kids’ gently used clothing on ebay or craigslist and that way you may be able to earn the money to put aside.) See this post: Tips For College-Bound Kids

Work.

Working while also pursuing your education is not unusual and should be encouraged. Often working and putting in the effort increases a student’s focus. However, working more than one reasonable job can become overwhelming so consider your time wisely. Also, some job programs will help you pay for higher education, just do your research and ask questions..

Apply for scholarships.

Finding free money for school through scholarships is a special skill all of its own. I follow a few college-related blogs that share different opportunities. Below are a few that you may find helpful.

Consider Different Programs

Many states offer trade school diplomas while students are still in high school. For those students who need more money, for college, it would be wise to gain a particular trade/skill and work using those special skills to pay for school. Remember community college and trade schools can also give a person more options.

AmeriCorps or PeaceCorps

Two federally funded programs like AmeriCorps and PeaceCorps are real options that can help students pay for school; especially, because it shows your prospective school your public service commitment. They also will help pay for your student loans as part of their work exchange program. Read about my personal AmeriCorps experience here: Tips to Get Rid of Student Loans

Overall, Colleges and universities need more accountability to the public. Especially now that the general public now no longer trusts the Education System in the US. The registration offices should clearly have a department that focuses on helping students who are in need of financial assistance, counseling, and scholarships.

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