Sunday, June 27, 2010

Look back

Time to reflect on how this job has been.
1. I love the family. The kids are fun, amazing, smart, and like brothers.
2. I'm getting the sort of experience with a normal family that my childhood should have provided me with.

Though all this is great, there are some things that could be better.
1. I don't always get all the time I was promised. Usually, this is my fault. Since I'm not clocking in and out or leaving the premises, I end up getting back into the roll of nanny when I'm supposed to be off duty and we're so happy together that that time I had anticipated being able to use to earn some extra money is not there.
2. In being worried about being "low impact", I'm not asking for the things I need. This wasn't a problem until I actually needed some things and then it looked like I was asking for "extras". We had an awkward moment.
3. School - I'm not goning to make it financially. Just no way. I can do the dorms and I can make the tuition fit within what my financial aide award gives, but I have nothing left over (budget cuts killed me for next year). My grades suffered when I broke my leg and I lost a scholarship.

Thanks for listening.


  1. Ruth,

    I understand the stress you're feeling with regard to school. I will say to you, don't feel that taking a small student loan is bad or wrong. Letting go of the idea that loans were bad was how I just managed to graduate with a B.S. from a state university. If there's anything I can tell you about it, feel free to email me.

  2. Loans? Dude, please please please don't give up school. Loans are NOT the end of the world, and in some cases can be written off (if you go into teaching or I THINK take a jaunt with the Peace Corps)

  3. I third the suggestion of loans. Even financial gurus like Dave Ramsey, who give specific plans to completely rid yourself of all debt including mortgages, say that student loans are NOT BAD CREDIT. You also don't have to take everything they offer you, which is around $9500. You just take what you need according to your budget and decline the rest.

  4. So you have enough for Tuition, room and board? But not books....right?

    See if you can get a job on campus, it doesn't have to be a work study thing. I worked at the front desk for my dorm the entire time I was in school. Yes I worked some crazy overnight shifts, and yeah my grades probably took a small hit from that, but I made $300 a month which let me do things like go out with friends and stuff.

    Like Ozzie said, the Peace Corps has a loan repayment, as does the military (well, technically it's a bit different with the military). You don't need to go full active duty, you can go national guard (Air or Army, but the Army will probably deploy you). If you go the military route, I suggest trying to be an officer, since you'll be treated better (being female, and as an Air Force brat I have to suggest that branch ;))....

    Also, look into moving off campus. Dorms are pretty expensive to live in, and you might be able to find a better deal in an apartment (hey, maybe even a university apartment depending on how big your school is) living with a roommate or two. When I moved off campus after three years in the dorms, my rent was $350 (rent was split between three of us) and $80/mn in groceries.

    As for your scholarship, write to them and explain the situation with your broken leg. It's a long shot, but they might give it back to you. It doesn't hurt to try, the worst that will happen is they will say no.

    And last but not least, talk to your financial aid office, they may be able to help you find some more obscure scholarships, and explain the loan thing a little better.

  5. What Ket said!!! Please, Ruth, don't give up on school. There are so many options out there for financing and housing. It's going to take some legwork and tenacity, but good grief, you've got the tenacity in spades. You CAN do this!!!!!!

  6. Hey Ruth,

    I've been reading for a long time but this is my first comment. Your story is amazing and inspiring!!

    Have you considered being a Resident Assistant? I was one in college after I lost my scholarship and it helped a lot. My room and board was paid for and I got a small stipend each semester which usually paid for a few text books. It might be too late this year but maybe you could apply to work the desk in one of the dorms to get your foot in the door for next semester.
    I second the loan recomendation. Just borrow what you need, it's well worth it in the long run. I borrowed a few thousand each year and now my repayments are less than $100/month.


  7. Hi Ruth,

    I think that you should not panick. I second all the options suggested above, and I really think that taking a loan is not the worst thing. It's the last resort, but it's still better than leaving school. You already made it several years without one, it'S great ! Make a budget and only take what you need.

    I think you should always be careful in any job (that's what unions are for, I don't know what ATI think about them, but reconsider their teachings on that too). You are their employees, they agreed to several things. Although I think everything is to their advantage, you should be entitled to everything. Always keep in mind that it's not about them doing a favor to you by recruiting you, it's about being in contract where both parts are equals. You come VERY cheap to them, and visibly everything is going fine, they have to at least respect the terms of your contract.

    Good luck, I know real life is hard to get sometimes !


  8. I agree with all the suggestions above, and have one more. If your school as a disability resource center, contact them to see if they need note-takers. My university would pay students to take notes in classes they had to go to anyway, photocopy the notes, and give them to a disabled student in the class who (for whatever reason) wasn't able to take notes themselves. It was really getting paid to do things you were doing already.

    If possible, get to campus earlier than the start of term and look for jobs. My university was always needing library and cafeteria workers, for example. There was also a daycare on campus that had good student jobs available if you could work it around your class schedule.

    Finally, and I know it's been mentioned before, start looking for some really obscure scholarships. One guy in my high school got some bowling scholarship - he had never bowled before in his life, but he was the only person in the city to apply so he got it! Another girl got a scholarship from a religious organization she wasn't part of, again, because she was the only one who applied! Good luck!

  9. Agree with everything said. Look into becoming an RA at your (or another) dorm, hit up Financial Aid. Note-taking is also a great idea; any undergrad can do it. I was in a class last semester in which a stenographer made notes for a student who was legally blind. I don't know how they did it, but she was able to send the transcriptions to the student who has a talking computer.

    I highly recommend the RA route for housing. Get on it soon; there's extra work involved, site tours, etc. but it will keep you in school. I think we're in the same state and if your at at state school, email me and I might be able to give you more detailed information about what's available.

    Yeah, the cuts suck. I just had a class canceled b/c it wasn't full; good news? I plan to work at a summer drama program and get field work credit for it. Just remember, when one door closes, another opens. Good luck!

  10. The good news is that there are many avenues for you to explore in securing more financing, including loans. For those that have been taught that loans are evil, my suggestion is to hit up the religious guru that taught you that and have him/her pay for the tuition, dorm, books, etc. That should shut them up pretty fast. Unfortunately, tuition being what it is today, most people end up getting loans. My first two boys who are now 26 and 24, had a very high GPA in school, both graduated with honors and both ended up with students loans. I think things were different in the past. In fact, I know that they are. In my state of Ohio, college tuition has sucked for decades. If CA has raised theirs, then they are only catching up with the rest of the country. You CA people should perhaps look at Proposition 13 and ask why someone is paying $600-800 a year in property taxes and someone else $8000-9000 or more per year for a similiar property on the same street. Schools have been getting hit by cuts for a while now. Maybe it's time to do something about it.

    Bottom line is that nothing worthwhile comes easy and challenges are just a part of life; you can do it, Ruth, just like all of us have and continue to. Wishing you good luck.

  11. Peace Corps is great, but as far as I know, you have to have a college degree already to join, and they're pretty strict about health-related things. I know people who had to write long explanations and get extra Dr. appointments for broken bones or surgeries they had YEARS before applying for the Peace Corps.

  12. I hate to be the bad news barer here, but I don't think Ruth will be able to get private loans at this point without a cosigner. I have good credit and still had to have my mom cosign on a $2500 loan. Ruth, your best bet is to go into your financial aid office. You could also try to explain your situation to the scholarship people and plead for just proving yourself somehow. Its not going to hurt to try. I got the feeling you were going toward the teachers path, there are tons of scholarships and aid for people who want to be teachers if they teach x number of years after. Good luck!

  13. If you're worried about buying books, you might consider cashing in your Swagbucks for gift cards. Your swidget says you currently have 10,957 Swagbucks, which will buy you 24 $5 Amazon gift cards. That's around $120 that you would have to put toward books. If the ones you need are available in cheap used editions on Amazon, $120 could definitely help.

    Also, I left a comment on another post last night, but that was an older post, so I don't know if you saw it or not, but by using coupons and paying attention to store sales, you can save an amazing amount of money on groceries and other household items. I'll never pay actual money for shampoo or toothpaste again! :) Let me know if you're interested, and I can point you to some websites that can help get you started. holamelitta at hotmail dot com.

  14. Ruth,

    At your age, you should qualify for your own student loan, as you are an independent student (which happens at the strange age of 24 or 25, if my memory serves). Take the student loans. You've already set out school waiting to be free of your family. You don't have a lot of time to waste now.

    Loans can be done correctly. I did them incorrectly and have a HUGE debt to repay. I also have a big income to pay them off with, so it kind of is a wash. There are options now that you can get forgiveness for being a public employee (which I get for working in law enforcement) and another that limits the amount you pay as a portion of your overall income.

    Or you can just take what you need to eat and pay books and go on. My best friend did that. She's not in for very much and the repayment is not a burden.

    I would strongly urge you to take out enough to stay in school. Debt is not bad, only stupid debt. You can't go anywhere without a degree and most people today have student loan debt.

  15. If you can buy international editions of your books, that will save you a ton of money. I used to buy math books that would normally cost $150-$200 for about $20. The site was called "campusi."

  16. Ruth, I was going to suggest the student loan option too. And some used bookstores not affiliated with colleges have used texts the college won't buy back (because the student highlighted too much, wrote too much in the margins, etc).

    I also would suggest applying for only what you need so you aren't paying student loans for life. :)

    I know what you mean, regarding being a nanny -- I was one, and also was a babysitter who'd go on extended trips with families. It's tough to navigate the boundaries of work and being around the family after work.

    Take care, Ruth.

  17. Just jumping back in again to offer more advice on books: buy them second hand as well. I would only go older editions on books you know you don't need to work out of for homework since the questions will be different.

    Sites like (which works out of ebay I believe) and amazon market place are great places to look at. Write down the ISBN of the book you need and type it into a search engine and you should be able to find some deals (sometimes you do, sometimes you don't, it's a matter of luck and how old the book is).

    Another thing is to see if the professor will put a book into the school library for in-library use (typically 3-4 hours at a time checkout).

    Also, depending on what you want to do after school there are a lot of other loan repayment options. I think Teach For America has a repayment program, but that's because it's part of AmeriCorps.

    Just please don't give up. I've found many people who leave school for whatever reason don't return.

  18. Don't give up on college, Ruth. Can you convince the financial aid office that you really do need a tiny bit more? See if you can appeal the scholarship being cut? Based on your age and the fact that you support yourself, you should be considered an independent student. There's always something out there.

    Also, I'd get in touch with your adviser or professors in your major (or that you just get along with). There may be something you just don't know about.

    And, based on what I've seen of your personality (and your childhood), you'd probably make a great RA.

    Don't give up! There's always something out there!

  19. I'm a grad student who has been a TA, and I'm also a cheapskate.

    University library reserves can be a good resource for texts (especially supplementary ones that are only used for a couple of assignments). Also, if you e-mail professors early and get wind of what the required texts are, you may be able to borrow a copy from the shelves at the library (these have longer loan period than reserved books). Also, in some fields, buying the prior edition of your text probably won't make much of a difference in the format and content (ask the professor). Also, you might want to ask any TAs you've had before if they're willing to lend you the free reading copies that the text book companies have given them as instructors. I have all sorts of undergraduate textbooks for classes I've TAed, and I'd lend them to a trusted former student.


  20. I've got student loans, too, and while it stinks to have to pay back that much money, it would have stunk worse if I'd had to go to school full-time and work full-time!

  21. Ruth, you really should fill out the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid..or something like FAFSA and the website will pop right up). Most students are required to input both their own information and their parents information, but you can bypass needing to have your parents have anything to do with it by being declared an independent student. You can be classified as an independent student at age 24, but even without that in situations like your's you can be granted an exception and classified as an independent student without that. You just provide documentation to them that you aren't being supported in any way by your parents (a statement from you and maybe one of your siblings who also got out should suffice). I just got done having to help my best friend go through that process, and the financial aid counselors at our university were a huge help. Once you fill out the FAFSA, with your expected family contribution (in other words, nothing) and your income level, you should be eligible for a full $5,500 per year in grant money, and grant money doesn't have to be paid back. You can also get subsidized federal loans through the FAFSA, which means that you won't owe any interest until a couple of months after you graduate (can't remember how many) and you don't need a co-signer. In addition, many on-campus jobs are federal work-aid jobs and are only available to students who filled out the FAFSA. You really should look into it, it certainly couldn't hurt and you might get more than you expect out of it. Good luck! You deserve it.

  22. Seconding the FAFSA! It doesn't look at your credit, only your income level.

    Go talk to your financial aid office, and ask them for assistance.

  23. Guys, she already has a financial aid award, so she has already filled out the FAFSA. Ruth, go chat with the financial aid office, they will help you explore all the options you aren't already using.

  24. Can you get a room in a shared house instead of living in the dorm? That could save you a lot of money.

  25. On the books, check with your professors too. Like Anon TA mentioned, instructors get free copies of the text books and sometimes professors end up with extra copies. I mentioned to one of my professors that I needed to go buy a particular book for a class and he reached over to his box of extra books & gave it to me. He said they kept sending him a new copy every every semester & its was for a class he didn't teach and he didn't need multiple copies of it.

  26. You may want to look into renting textbooks as well. lets you rent books for a fee. Also, depending on the class, you may be able to check out books at the city or school library.

    Um, you can also buy a book and photocopy it & then return it for a refund, but you didn't hear that from me. ;)


  27. Ruth, is that family not giving you a stipend? I had an Au Pair one summer and we provided room and board and a stipend of about $100 per month as I recall. And that's much cheaper than a nanny. Plus, we paid her airfare and for a class. These people know how good they have it, I'd have jumped at a chance to have someone live her and help with my kids for room and board only. Room and board isn't costing them all that much, a few hundred per month tops. Childcare for one child is a minimum of 125 per week in my area, do the math, you should have some income from the nanny job that you could use to buy books this fall. I suppose it's too late to change things now, but in the future, look at Au Pair guidelines and what they get and use that as a minimum.


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