The second year costs
After completing my first semester, I started looking into what I really want out of this college experience. I'm hesitating to return to this small, private college next fall - mostly because of the high cost. I'm starting to consider the whole concept of a four-year college and what it will take financially for me to complete a bachelor's degree.
I'm left wondering what all this is for if I'm taking out $5,000 or more per year in loans, spending all my hard-earned summer money to get through the year, and still coming up short. About $20,000 in loans is a low estimate of how much it will cost me in loans alone to continue here for four years; plus, I'm sure that number will increase because I won’t be receiving the scholarships that I was awarded for my freshman year. Also, since my first semester grades weren't terrific, I need to push those grades up this semester to get any of the incentive grants the college gave me for my high school grades. I messed up. I didn't study like I should have, nor did I get involved in activities like I could have.
Even though I'm receiving tons of financial aid - and without it I wouldn’t have been able to attend such an expensive private college - I still feel like I’ve accrued more debt than necessary, especially since the first two years of college consist mainly of general education courses. I probably should have gone to a community college for the first two years, worked, and saved more money. But I wanted to play football, and I really did like the campus and the feel of of the school when I was here for a visit and for orientation.
I'm not sure how expensive a community college education is in my area, but I think it’s probably about $3,000 a year full-time - $30,000 less than this college. Of course, you do have to add in the costs of gasoline for transportation, car maintenance, and living expenses either with my Mom or with a buddy in an apartment. Plus, if I did live at home (which, by the way, my mom is having a fit about because she thinks I need to live on-campus to learn to grow up on my own) the whole living-under-Mom’s-rules-again issue will definitely come into play. I get along with my family, but I've lived on my own for 4 months and did my own thing without anyone telling me what to do.
Coming back home for a year could be complicated. I do get a lot of financial aid, and once my parents' divorce is final, my father will be forced to pay one-third of the whole college bill. However, if I live at home, my mother would be saddled with most of my living expenses. There's no financial aid for food and board if you live at home. I have to think about all that stuff. I still think it will be much cheaper and debt-free if I stay home for a year and go to a college near my hometown, but my mom truly believes this is a big mistake.
Transferring from a four-year college to a community college and then back to a four-year college for my last two years might get a little complicated, and I might lose a lot of credits--but I want to go somewhere that is right for me. The college now isn't bad. I know didn't do everything in my power to make it work for me. Maybe this next semester will help me understand if I should stay or go. Regardless, the financial situation is still making me wonder about this whole college debt thing.