Make paying for college make sense.
I always expected to go to college, and I was also expected to pay for it. I had been given the message my whole life that it was my responsibility. I had some guidance from my mom, but I felt pressure to figure it out on my own.
I knew I wanted to live in the residence halls my first year. I am from Lincoln, so I had the option to live at home, but I really craved that independence. I recognized early on that I needed to develop the habit of being on the ball. I made sure I was very focused on what I needed to do financial-aid wise.
My senior year, I began applying for external scholarships and using EducationQuest as a resource. My school counselor helped me a little bit, but mostly it was just me sifting through all the scholarships and filing my FAFSA. I’m glad that I was very aware of all the things that went into my financial aid.
I recommend that students make a list of all the things that they can do instead of just imagining, “Oh my gosh, I need to pay for everything.” Instead say to yourself, “I need to pay for things. Here are my opportunities and here are the things I need to apply for like Nebraska scholarships and external scholarships.”
It helps to have that broken down and go from there. There are resources out there; you just have to find them. Reach out to your school counselor and Husker Hub because they have those resources.
When I was a sophomore at Nebraska, I started working for Husker Hub. It has benefited me a lot to have that extra knowledge. My predominant experience is with financial aid. I help students and parents through their questions.
Balancing financial aid and student bills can get confusing. As a student, I know areas where students are dropping the ball, which allows me to meet them where they’re at and break information down in a way that takes the stress out. I have walked a family though every single question of the FAFSA before.
Typically, I am giving them the breakdown of fees, deadlines, opportunities and scholarships. If you are stressed or concerned, I recommend that you don’t put it off. Sometimes students don’t call until like the very last minute or they think they were supposed to do something last month.
Students often get off track with deadlines and then there’s a bunch of consequences. But when students are on top of it and call us when they’re getting those reminder messages and getting panicked, that’s what we’re there for is to help them through. Most of the time, they are fixable problems.
Being on top of and familiar with my financial aid has meant security, relief and independence for me. It’s been a relief to know that I have things paid for and know that I have myself set up for success. It was what I was reaching for my entire life in school.
Education has become a lifestyle for me. I’m going to graduate school next year at Stony Brook to study political science. I want to work in academia and become a professor and do research after that. School will continue to be a part of my life for the foreseeable future—it just feels like what I am meant to do, and what I enjoy doing.