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Paying for College: How Can I Start Paying Back Student Loans?

My family never had very much money. I knew that coming in to college; I knew it would be difficult. But I didn’t know it would be this difficult. I don’t even think I can pay for college.

I decided to go to Case Western Reserve University for a few reasons. First, I couldn’t handle going to the same college as my high school peers. I needed to separate myself from the toxicity and incompetence of that environment. I’d applied to schools that were out of the area (and mostly out of state), and though I got into every college I applied to, two schools stood out because of their financial aid package. When I stepped onto the CWRU campus, I knew this was my home. I belonged here.

Paying Back Student Loans

For the first two years, I was able to earn the $2,000 to $3,000 I owed after financial aid without sacrificing grades and study time. I managed to pay everything and move on to the next semester without much incident. This semester, I’ve run into a greater problem paying for college—and I’m facing the possibility of taking a semester or more away because I can’t afford the remainder of this year’s tuition bill.

This is due, in large part, to my parents not accepting the relatively small loans (compared to the loans I’ve had to take) outlined in my financial aid package. My parents are divorced. Neither can assist with paying for college out of pocket. My dad doesn’t really talk to me about his financial situation. I don’t know whether he can’t or won’t help. And my financial package doesn’t take into account his finances. My mother is unemployed. She’s worried about whether she can pay back the loans she’s already taken, let alone the one for this semester.

Because of all of this, I’ve had to take out yet another loan through the university, which may or may not even be enough to allow me to stay in school.

I Can’t Afford College: What Do I Do Here?

So, here’s the question. If I can barely afford to be in school, even with all of the financial aid, how am I supposed to pay back all the money that I borrowed to get this degree that may or may not land me a job worth the amount of money I invested? I’m at the point where moving out of the country after finishing college looks like the most viable option. Then I won’t have to repay my loans. Before I think about any of that, though, I need to finish my education, which I’m not sure I’ll even be able to do at this point.

The saddest part about all of this is it doesn’t even matter what kind of grades you get anymore. It just matters how much money you make in a world where you can’t make money without the education that you can’t afford.

Rebekah Camp is from Youngsville, Pennsylvania. She’s a junior at Case Western Reserve University, majoring in Film Studies and Screenwriting.

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