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Preparing for College Success

Family & Friends Matter

Preparing for College SuccessFamily & Friends Matter

Ana has several ideas for what to major in and because she has had to take out student loans to cover the costs of college, she is worried about getting a job after graduation that pays enough for her to afford the monthly loan payments. Fortunately, she has met with her financial aid advisor who has provided her with a few options that could help her cover her costs for the remainder of her time in college.

One of her options is to major in education and become a middle school science teacher. She likes this option because she loves science and working with young people. She finds out that her state has a student grant program for teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields who agree to teach for five years in a rural part of the state, a place that is several hours from Ana’s hometown. The program provides grants to cover the remaining costs of a degree for the promise of the graduate’s teaching in the designated district for the entire 5 years. However, the program requires that Ana commit to the major now, complete the degree, and sign on for at least 5 years of teaching service. If she breaks any part of the requirements, the grants will turn into loans that she will owe the state.

While Ana is excited by the opportunity to earn grant money, she is concerned about being so far away from her family for that long and the commitment to the degree and length of service. Her family still relies on her and had planned for her to be close to them after graduation. While this is not the only option that Ana has for covering the costs of her education, it is the most promising one. The others are scholarships and internships that are highly competitive, and Ana is not confident that she has the grades or the experiences to compete with other more accomplished or needy students.

Let’s Think About It

Ana has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.

  • Ana majors in education and applies for the grant program even if it means being away from her family for an extended time and carries the possibility the grants will become loans if she doesn’t fulfill the commitment.
  • Ana chooses to apply for the scholarships and internships only.
  • Ana applies for the grant program and will wait until after she graduates to decide if she wants to maintain the commitment.

Let’s Talk About It

Ana’s situation sounds as if it can help her get the financial support she needs, but it comes with a long-term commitment that she and her family may not be ready for. She will need to think about the pros and cons of any of her next steps and communicate what she is thinking to her family. Here are some suggestions for communicating with others about the dilemma that Ana is facing:

  • “I have an opportunity to get grants to cover my educational costs, but it comes with a big commitment. Can we talk about how this decision may affect all of us now and in the future?”
  • “I have explored different options for paying for college, and this one seems to be the best one. Can you help me talk through the others to see if there is anything else I need to consider?”
  • “I have to admit I am nervous about locking myself into such a commitment even though I know the grant money is much needed for me to continue my degree with less stress. Can I share with you what I am feeling and why?”

Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.

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