In the late 1990s I graduated from Kalamazoo College - an institution which claims Ty Warner (founder of Ty Inc. and their famous Beanie Babies) and Steven Yeun ("Glenn" on AMC's The Walking Dead) as alumni. "K" is a relatively prestigious and relatively expensive liberal arts college founded in 1833. Despite limited means, and in spite of an average annual price tag of over $20,000, I was able to graduate without falling significantly into the red. The following are three reasons this was possible:
Pell & Stafford; My newest, best friends: Of course, a college education often begins with the first names in Federal funding - the Pell Grant and Stafford Loan. A hefty portion of my tuition was taken care of by the Pell Grant and subsidized Stafford Loan. Although the Pell Grant was not a constant during my schooling (See below), I finished my four-year degree with just under $9,000 owed on the Stafford Loan - a number that I was able to pay off immediately with savings.
Work, Work, Work: From my junior year of High School on, I worked at a local municipal golf course an average of 20-25 hours a week during school and 45+ hours a week during the summer. Yes, this afforded me a pretty good bank account prior to going off to college. Nevertheless, it almost proved my undoing as well. While in college, "K" would return to school a full month after other local colleges. As a result, I worked 60+ hours those final few weeks of summer while making up for employees who had already returned to school. In my junior year, I was apprised that I had worked too many hours over the previous August and would as a result lose my Pell Grant. Thinking full well that I would have to leave the college, I visited with a representative from financial aid and was awarded a school-sponsored grant to make up for the lost funds.
Anywhere you lay your head/that is where is home: My father had promised me that if I didn't leave the area - as I had been accepted at Iowa State and the University of Dubuque - he would allow me to live, rent free, in one of his rental properties. Even so, he completely reversed this decision when I was accepted to one of the state's most expensive colleges. Still, he did allow me to live at home - also rent free - while going to "K." I was one of seven (if I remember correctly) undergrads allowed to live off campus during my years at Kalamazoo College. This small but essential cog in financing my college degree saved nearly 40-45% off the total package of tuition, room, and board.
In the fairly few years since my graduation, tuition and fees at Kalamazoo College have nearly doubled. As of 2011-12, "K" reports their tuition, room, and board (and other minor fees) at just under $45,000 ($43,899 to be exact). All things considered, I am glad that I was able to go to school in the 1990s - I'm not sure the path I took could be replicated in today's shaky and volatile economic world. Not without help from a zombie apocalypse, eh Glenn?
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- Financial Aid
- Pell Grant
- Kalamazoo College
- Stafford Loan
- liberal arts college