Dear "College Kid Without Student Loans"
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Student Life

Dear "College Kid Without Student Loans"

Because no one said student loans were the easy way out.

Dear "College Kid Without Student Loans"

As May 1st quickly approaches, I've been thinking a lot about my brother's transition from his senior year of high school to whatever college he chooses. He's been accepted to great universities, and I couldn't be more proud of him and his opportunity to further his education. However, that's not the only thing I think about when my mother tells me which acceptance packets have come in the mail that day.

You see, I have student loans. This isn't a surprise to most people, considering the average tuition cost for universities has steadily climbed for years now, but for some people, my student loans are apparently scarlet letters, marking me as lazy and unmotivated. I'm here today to tell you exactly how ignorant and privileged that assertion really is.

Let's step away from my own story for a minute and think about the world as a whole. American universities attract talented applicants from all corners of the world, meaning some students are ineligible for the Federal Work Study from which I benefit, or they face additional costs just to attend college in another country. Even in the U.S. people need to work in high school and college just to afford basic needs like food, books, and transportation. According to Feeding America, 19.7% of American kids under the age of 18 were considered impoverished in 2015. How many students do you think take minimum wage jobs just to be able to afford application fees and books, at jobs requiring more than just 2 hours a day?

Considering those hours spent working, in addition to hours spent studying or at school, many of those students won't have time for several extracurriculars and community service. I personally was lucky enough to not need a part time job in high school, meaning I had time for volunteer work, sports, and clubs. Despite the fact that I was captain of my high school's rowing team my senior year and a recruited Division 1 athlete, I wasn't offered any scholarship money. Even my friends who received athletic scholarships worried about getting injured, because that money would be at risk.

When you mention your full ride to UNL, I can't help but chuckle. Now, I don't know anything about you personally, so I'm not sure if that tuition cost is in-state, but if we're making assumptions (which you are about everyone who takes out loans), then let's assume it's out-of-state. Acknowledging that out-of-state students pay almost twice as much as in-state residents, that $31,970 is still less than half of what students see on their bill at my university, and my school isn't even one of the top 30 most expensive in the nation!

So that brings us to why I chose to attend such an expensive school. It's not like the tuition bill is a secret; that number was in the back of my mind every step of my application process. We knew when applying that my family was in the middle ground: making too much money for need-based scholarships, and too little money to foot the bill without help. But when I got accepted, the full ride one school offered to me due to my ACT scores or the half ride from a small women's college all faded away, because my parents and I knew that this was the best school for me.

Students deserve the opportunity to attend whatever university is the best fit for them, even if it means they have to take out student loans. Some people will attend a junior college and transfer, go to a technical school, or put off school until they save up some more money, but if we don't know someone's personal situation, how can we judge their decision to take out student loans? I understand and appreciate the fact that I'm lucky enough to be able to afford the university I attend, even enough to pursue a fifth year for my Master's, but I also appreciate that the schools my brother is applying to factor in my cost of attendance in his financial aid package. So before you judge someone for their decision to take out student loans, try having an ounce of empathy for someone who shares that appreciation for education and hard work, because no one takes out student loans if they don't care about their education.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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