Drop out of college? - RC Groups
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Dec 01, 2012, 06:49 PM

Drop out of college?

I'm a collage student at a local university near St. Louis and I have a friend who is going through some tough times and needs some advice but for once in my life I am speechless. I really don't know what to tell her. Read the story and fell free to post comments, thoughts or advice.

My friend is an engineering student who has transfered from a community collage. She only has a year and a half left till graduation. She lives 75 miles from our collage and makes the drive 3 days a week because rent in a collage town is so high.
She has run out of money, has no collateral or credit score and her parents won't cosign a lone for her. (They don't believe in borrowing money, their theory being that you can't borrow your way to a better future.)

Next semester her class schedule will require her to be on campus 5 days a week. That means if she continues driving she will spend 15 hours a week on the road.

Basically, she can't afford to drive, can't afford to move and this close to graduation she almost can't afford to quit.

Her parents are not very sympathetic of her situation and are urging her to not even bother studying for upcoming finals because it's pointless to try to continue.

She really is in the right field. She grew up in a family of all boys and if you need something designed, built or fixed she can do it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated and passed on.

Dec 02, 2012, 12:52 PM
Registered User
What's a collage student? Is that an art school?
What's a lone?
Her parents are telling her to quit and fail (by not taking required finals) and waste they money she or they already paid?! That's just plain stupid if true.
Are YOU really in college?

She has no friends at or nearby the school who she could stay over with during the week for this semester? I've never heard of having to take a full course load. If your schedule or budget only allows you to take 9 credits and 3 days a week, then that's what you do - and get a part time job for the other days of the week. Of course that may extend the time required to graduate by a year if the classes aren't offered every semester. Get a loan - especially if she really only has a year to go. If she's a good student and can get a decent job, that ought to be a reasonable amount of money to repay in a short time.
Dec 02, 2012, 01:48 PM
Sorry, I typed that in a hurry. Spell checker made some suggestions and I went with them without reading them through. Always a bad idea.

Her parents are actually split. Her dad is wanting her to continue on but can't help provide a means for that to happen. Her mom is stopping just short of saying what's the point.

I am in collage and have a few classes with her. She is sort of my study partner. Almost every engineering student needs someone to help pull them through the rough times. She has done that for me in the past and I'm trying to do that for her now.

Right now her best choices are the ones you suggested. Take what she can afford as she can afford it. It may even mean skipping a semester every now and then but at least she'll finish.
I'm going with her (dragging her if I have to) to the financial aid department to see if it is possible for her to get a loan. I've been told it may be possible but since she has no collateral, no credit score and no one to cosign for her the interest rates may be through the roof.
Dec 02, 2012, 06:43 PM
Registered User
The single most important contributing factor is your friend's motivation. If your friend becomes impatient when people tell you she should quit, and her answer to them is "like h*ck I'm gonna quit" then you'll know that she will find some way or another to succeed.

Your friend might be able to transfer into a work-study co-operative program where she can be in school for 4 months, and then work in a paid internship position in a company for maybe 8 months or 16 months and then be back in school for another 4 months. I have seen people earn their way through school like this, and it works very well if the student is smart and willing to work hard.

If the school that you are attending does not have a co-op program, then she might consider moving to a school that does have one. Perhaps your friend could even take a year off in between and work somewhere for a year, preferably at a job where her skills and interests would be valued and rewarded.

A third possibility is for your friend to transfer into a part-time program, so she can work and earn enough to pay her way through school. However, she will need to get a job that pays more than a walmart greeter or a burger flipper for this idea to work.

Good luck and best wishes. I hope she finds a way to make it work.
Dec 02, 2012, 09:21 PM
shafferama's Avatar
Don't forget about Pell and Opportunity Grants! A trip to the financial aide office might yield more than you expect. Good luck.
Dec 02, 2012, 10:35 PM
I live my life 12oz at a time
arnav's Avatar
I can feel her pain. Having came to this country with a backpack (no joke) I ended putting myself through an Ivy League school through a combination of things (tough I did have some help from my Dad initially). I also transfered from a community collage having done 2 years there first.

- shafferama, is right on the money. Especially if she is a good student the school would mostly likely view her as an "asset" and would try and work with her. Some schools are better than other in that regard. Not all schools have the same amount of grants available. Like shafferama said, an adviser can explain the options. I for example utilized:
- Pell Loans: Government subsidized loans at a favorable rate.
- Regular loans (coordinated through the school not an outside bank): I think there were two kinds (Stafford and something else). Gosh it feels like it was forever ago. The important thing is that I ended up using the loans not only for school but for living expenses as well!
- Various School grants
- What a about a dorm? usually they are subsidized by the school.

- Why do the parents have to co-sign the loans? Maybe it is something new. Maybe it is becuase she is younger than I was. If her parents are struggling as well it may be of benefit to her in some sense. I don't remember what the threshold is, but depending on how much they make, if it considered sufficiently low it will help her eligibility.

- Does she really have to be in school 5 days? I remember I used to build my schedule in such a way that I would have classes back to back few days during the week. One semester, granted as sophomore, I lucked out and only had to come to school 2 days a week. She can also try and take as many independent study classes as she can to avoid having to physically attend classes.

I think loans are her best bet. I know it may sound scary but it really not that bad. After I graduated I got a good Job and payed them off sooner than you require.

I don't know if that helps at all, but I wish her a lot of good luck!
Dec 02, 2012, 10:56 PM
I know she has grants which I assume pays for most of her tuition. I think it's the travel expenses that are getting her now. She spends $25 a day in gas to get to class because of the 75 mile drive. I don't know how many miles her car has on it but it's not in the best shape. I don't expect it to hold out through next semester if she continues to drive.

There is very little flexibility for the engineers at our school when making out your schedule. There is usually only one class available for each subject during the semester so you don't get to choose when to take it and you have to take your classes in a very specific order so you are pretty much stuck with what you get.

The school isn't much help with getting internships. It's up to the student to seek them out and then hope that they are a paid internship, which not all are.

Dec 02, 2012, 11:12 PM
I live my life 12oz at a time
arnav's Avatar
What about a dorm? How much does a room go for up there? Right of the bat she will be spending $500 on gas and not including maintenance.
Dec 02, 2012, 11:35 PM
Originally Posted by arnav
What about a dorm? How much does a room go for up there? Right of the bat she will be spending $500 on gas and not including maintenance.
Don't quote me on this but I think they are about $2000 per semester. I think it would be a break even point until you factor in the wear on the car and then the dorm wins easy.
Dec 02, 2012, 11:59 PM
I live my life 12oz at a time
arnav's Avatar
Only the time saved is time that can be spent studying or working. The time spent on the road is a part time job right there (~20 hrs a wk) once you consider that after driving 75 miles you are too tired to do anything productive anyway.
Dec 03, 2012, 12:24 AM
Detroit 2-stroke junkie
1320fastback's Avatar
I drive anywhere from 60-90 miles each way to work and can vouch for that.
By the time you get home the last thing you want to do is anykind of work or studying.
Also putting that many miles on a car is going to be real costly if you do not plan for regular preventive maintaince.
Dec 03, 2012, 12:26 AM
Cognito, Ergo Imbibo
old_dan's Avatar
Tell her to try for the Stafford load. Go to the financial aid office at the school. She should be able to get $12k per year worth of student loans. It's not a bad investment since engineering jobs pay pretty well, so she'd be able to pay it back in a couple of years if she really wanted to.

Also, if she is really out of money & her parents are broke, ask the university for a fee waiver. It can't hurt. For the record, half of the students attending California State Universities (so the 14 schools in the CSU system) are on a fee waiver.

Dec 03, 2012, 12:31 AM
Cognito, Ergo Imbibo
old_dan's Avatar
Originally Posted by Tail Spin1
Don't quote me on this but I think they are about $2000 per semester. I think it would be a break even point until you factor in the wear on the car and then the dorm wins easy.
I can only tell you what California schools are charging....it is $7k per semester for the dorm. That includes meals 7 days a week for the 15 week semesters.

Frankly, if she's driving 75 miles each way x 5 days a week for a 15 week semester it'd cost $6150 for car expenses. Don't fool yourself to think that the cost of driving is only the gas. The government lets us expense $0.55 per mile because that's about what it costs.

So....the dorm is looking like a pretty good deal. If she's really broke...ask the school for financial aid.
Dec 10, 2012, 06:29 AM
Scale Aerobatic Pilot
PropsnWings's Avatar
It is unfortunate what your friend is experiencing, and I empathize. However, it does appear she did not fully assess and budget for everything when agreeing to take on the challenges of college?

Is this a community college you are attending? Or is it a specialized institution? Reason I ask, is there are far more opportunities at a community college, than will be at a specialized institution. If you are at the latter, then I highly suggest finding a community college with your program, so that you have more opportunities with not only financial aid, but also transferable credits for the future.

College will always be there, so if things are getting way too tough at the moment, it may be best she take a semester or a year off to "regroup" and learn from this hardship, while she works and saves up the required cash to make sure she can attend classes every day.
Dec 10, 2012, 06:10 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by shafferama
Don't forget about Pell and Opportunity Grants! A trip to the financial aide office might yield more than you expect. Good luck.

Exactly..... She also may apply for minority aid.

If she really wants to go to school, she needs to look at the above and also look at scholarships, fellowships, and internships. Target an industry and company she would like to work for and research how she can get her foot in the door. Start networking with people who work in the field she wants to study. Is she willing to work at the same time? Apply for work study and work stipends. Its not going to be easy.

Stay away from any loans other then Federal Loans and those should only be used as a last resort. Taking out student loans can be worse than charging college on a credit card. Even at 6%, their freaky terms could have you paying for 30 years on the interest.

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