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Education with no (little debt)

July 21st, 2015 at 08:03 am

Thanks for the warm welcome from you all!

I saw a couple of questions about my education so I thought I'd do a post and answer them.

I was very fortunate that my maternal grandmother had an annuity that she received when her husband died that she was not aware of. She gave this to my mother (who was an only child) and it was invested when we were children (back when it was double digit interest for savings :-) ) This allowed my sisters (2) and I about $15k each for our education.

We all spent it differently. My older sister spent it within a couple of years at a private college. My younger sister spent it at a public state university with a little bit more help because it took her a little longer and the cost increased over time.

I attended a community college before I graduated high school through the PSEO (post secondary education options program). This can provide students up to 2 years of college education before a student graduates high school and it's all paid for! I completed the remaining credits at the community college to complete my associates degree which transferred whole to the state public university. I really love community colleges in the state where I live, they are cheaper, smaller class sizes and most of the faculty do really care about teaching (versus research like some universities). I ran out of my money just as I completed my undergrad degree. :-)

Almost 10 years later as a single parent working in a call center, I realized there was no way I could do that the rest of my life! They had tuition reimbursement and because I already had a 4 year degree, I had to pursue a graduate degree. Looking at my strengths (I'm very resourceful) and anticipated job openings (which were WRONG) I decided to pursue Library and Information Science. For my tuition reimbursement (90%!!) I focused on the Information Science aspects so that this would be covered. It was for two classes until my entire department was laid off. We were given 60 day notice and a nice severance package. I was able to find another job before my end date and pocketed the severance which was 3 weeks of pay for each year of service. They rounded me up! 15 weeks of pay into the bank! The job I found started the very next day after I ended my call center job and they also covered one of my classes at 50% (tuition reimbursement is your friend!~).

I'm going to post what the last 6 months of my degree was like another time if you're interested.

The challenge like Laura might know is that despite previous reports of so many older librarians retiring, technology and budgets have limited the number of jobs available. My state especially in the metro area is very competitive for jobs. After graduation, I worked a number of part time and temporary positions while searching for the elusive full time with benefits. I was willing to take just about anything and it still took me 3 1/2 years to find that permanent position. Thankfully, as a single parent I was lucky enough to keep working in my field. At one point, I was driving in two different directions an hour each way depending on the day of the week for up to three different jobs at a time.

I do confess that I did take a small student loan for my last semester of library school because I didn't want to drain my bank account while I wasn't working. I'll share more about that later.

I've been employed at my current position for 7 years and this fall I will be taking a sabbatical to finish my second masters degree in Educational Leadership. I'm able to take classes in the same educational system with free tuition, I just need to pay for books and fees. I always believe that you should take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. It also will bring me up to the highest level of education (credits counted not actual degrees, I don't have a PhD) in my position so my salary goes up to the highest column.

2 Responses to “Education with no (little debt)”

  1. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Wow, our education backgrounds are pretty similar.

    I didn't attend community college because my parents insisted on my going to our parochial college. My dad was a pastor, so that cut off 70% of tuition costs. The remainder was paid for by: 1) Yearly distributions from a malpractice suit my mom won when I was in elementary school, of which they used a portion to set up an education fund for my brother and I; 2) Whatever money I managed to earn. I ended my undergraduate education (El. Ed) with no school debt, but did have some credit card debt for my first computer. (This was back in 1996/7.)

    Fast forward about 13 years ... I was laid off from my oil/gas admin asst job of 3 years. I had about $14k in savings (labeled - EF, Car replacement, and house downpayment.) Decided that I wanted to go back to school and become a school librarian (long thought process here - but somehow I didn't come across the info letting me know that this wasn't such an easy field to actually get a JOB in!)

    I moved out of my apartment, sold / gave away a lot of stuff, and started renting the first of 3 rooms. I supported myself (monthly basic expenses) with money earned by working at a gym (min wage) and then later through tutoring. School was paid for mostly with savings and scholarships. (Online, except for a few weeks required campus time for two different classes.)

    After moving to another state for my first (and only) school library job, I had a bank balance of about $200, but no debt. Cut it a little close.

    Now, 4 years later, here I am working in NE (yet another state) as basically an admin asst yet again ...

    -- You were probably smart taking a small loan so as to not be left without any money. I did have money in a ROTH that I could have tapped as a VERY LAST resort (and I had really started thinking that I was going to have to use that resort before the job offer happened.)

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. GoodLiving Says:

    I'm very grateful that I grew up learning how to be really tight with money. I'm going to post about that too.

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