How helping someone can go completely against good financial advice. And how it can change lives.
I had messed up. I hadn’t done my best. I hadn’t tried my hardest. Maybe I hadn’t taken it seriously from the get go. But there I was needing to take more classes and having just lost a big financial aid scholarship. $12,600 if I remember correctly. The scholarship was only good for the standard time to complete the degree. Me, I had just failed to do that.
Why did I even go to college?
You see my parents didn’t go to college right after high school in fact my dad never even graduated. My mom finish high school and was shipped off to American from her central American home. My dad dropped out of a high school in California.
But even with that, college always felt like something that I was supposed to do.
While we grew up my mom started taking classes for architecture and even as I got older my father too signed up for classes at the local community college.
We grew up attending community college classes sitting at the back of the room being quite. Or running around the hallways trying to entertain ourselves while my mom took her classes.
After we got a bit older we even wandered into empty rooms all 3 of us and played school. Taking turns teaching something. But usually my older sister teaching us something she was learning. ( It’s how I picked up a bit of french)
College was part of our lives and it was fun. Why wouldn’t we go?
So as I got into high school I new I was going. My first college search freshman year yielded interest in an art school in the Boston. But through out the rest of high school I discovered engineering a happy marriage of my 2 strongest subject matters. Math and science.
Earlier I said maybe I just didn’t take it seriously from the get go. And looking back that definitely seems like the case. You see after the discovery I had the subject matter I wanted to study: Engineering. I also knew there was no way I was going to the local community college. Even near by universities were ruled out because of the simple fact that I didn’t want living at home to be an option. Far in another state would be ideal. To that effect I received lots of pamphlet and application information in the mail from all across the US for different universities I could attend.
And even though I read through most of them( and had never heard of most of them before). Even though I kept narrowing them down. You know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. I missed the application deadline. I mean how in the hell do you miss the application deadline if you’re serious about going to college.
Thinking back that shows that I wasn’t taking it seriously to begin with.
But you know what? I decided to not give up I rifled through some papers and found universities with rolling admissions or later deadlines.
I found some and applied.
Honestly even though university was expected, if I think back, my real motivations weren’t the desire to get an amazing degree to secure an amazing job. It wasn’t to be better off then my parents. It wasn’t to be the trailblazer. The first of the family to receive a prestigious degree. (Well maybe it was a little bit of that! It comes with bragging rights!) It was because I wanted to get out of my house. The only way someone of my age and my economical disposition gets to leave home and be on their own is by going away to college. The farther the better. And that desire to flee was strongly coupled by a desire to travel. The only way someone like me could travel was by going off to college and then participating in the study abroad program. That is why I wanted to go to college. ( you know what? in the end I didn’t even get to study abroad, oh the irony)
Those don’t seem to be good enough reasons to attend university and it showed up in my work.
University for me was about the experience, and it showed up in my work.
I got A’s ,I got B’s, I got C’s ,Ds and went through class withdrawals.
I started needing to retake classes. Eventually resulting in pushing out my graduation date.
Then something happened. That could have derailed my graduation indefinitely.
I got pregnant.
You know, I always though of myself as the black sheep of the family. But really? This? How could I let this happen to me? At 20 I was only halfway through the degree program. And I wasn’t keeping up.
It was a wake up call.
I didn’t want to become another statistic. I’m latina. And even though I was past being a teen mom. I didn’t want to be a drop out.
Ugh… how disgusting and shameful. How culturally common. A drop out with a kid.
The thought of having debt I wouldn’t be able to pay off didn’t even cross my mind.
It was all about not becoming a drop out. Taking time off even just one semester for me would mean setting myself up for never returning.
As I thought of it more I realized that the only way I would survive this was to keep going to school. You see. I attended a school that required working a co-op. A paid working experience. Where I earned real money. $15/hr.
Nowhere could I make that kind of money with no degree. And now it wasn’t just about me.
So I didn’t take a break I went back to school and took back to back school terms while pregnant.
A funny thing happened. Those were my best semester through my college career. Somehow managing a full school load, I was able to balance everything with a work study , increasing doctors visits and the ever ever present need to frequently excuse myself from class to go pee. My time management skills flourished due to necessity.
It was good but not good enough. I couldn’t pull in my graduation date.
Though I survived the rest of the time and classes after the birth. The day came when it was clear I would need to take more time to finish.
But how would I do that having lost my biggest scholarship.
I talk to people and knew of so many people having dropped out because of lack of funding. With 1 year left. They were so close. I was so close.
But I didn’t have the money. The money I made during my 6 month co-op was all going to living expenses for the whole year. I was already stretching.
So I did the only thing I could. I maxed all my loans out. But it still wasn’t enough.
I tried taking out a loan in my name, it was denied.
I tried having family cosign. No dice. My family couldn’t provide any financial support.
I had gotten far since the news of my pregnancy. But the thought of not dropping out jumped into my mind like I had made the resolution yesterday.
It was so close but farther then ever.
Then I decided I just needed to throw a wider net.
But I could only think of one person, a fellow student, who I felt comfortable asking for help.
I was asking him to help me. To give me a chance at finishing my degree. I was asking him to cosign a $10,000 loan at an absurdly horrible rate 10.75%. To go against all financial advise that says you should never, Never do that.
For some reason. He agreed. He agreed to expose himself financially and give me an amazing gift.
This friend I can only assume believed in me.
But we never really talked about it again. So I never knew why?
All I knew was that he didn’t want me talking about it. He was naturally concerned about how others might interpret the situation. He didn’t want other people expecting the same thing.
After graduation it was the 1st loan I focused on and the first loan I killed.
But I still wonder Why? Why Did he do such a thing? And I’ve wondered it on many occasions.
I want to understand because I want to give someone that gift too. A life changing gift. I want to know how he knew he wasn’t going to get burned. Or why if he did it was worth the risk.
His help changed my life. It gave me the chance to finish.
I don’t know if it was Mr.1500’s post of pivotal life events. But this one post just flowed out of me.
Getting pregnant with Jr Roamer was one of those moments. And a few years later, so was this amazing friends life changing financial gift.
People say you can get where ever you want if you just work hard. But some of it does seem to be just good fortune. I was fortunate to have meet this person. With out the luck of meeting him I wouldn’t have been able to ask for his help in the first place.
So the things I want you to think about is. Sometimes breaking sound financial advice can really help someone.*
I want you to think about moments in your life that helped you get where you are today.
But mostly I want you to realize that even though I made so many “mistakes”. I am in an amazing place right now. So you can overcome too.
And if you feel inclined share with me how this post made you feel? And whether there is some financial advice worth breaking.
* That is not to say to start loaning and cosigning left and right. Like I said I still don’t understand his thought process.