If you're a college student living in the United States of America, you know just how heavy a burden the astronomical cost of tuition is.
Fortunately, I have been attending a community college for the past two years where my tuition is completely covered by a scholarship. However, when I transfer to my four-year university in the fall, I will not be so lucky.
The next six years of my life will cost over $100,000, and 75% of that bill will be footed by my parents.
This is something that I feel extremely guilty about and have been wrestling with for the past year.
My parents have always taken care of my brother and me, going beyond what is normally expected of parents.
My dad traveled overseas to Germany to work for six months in order to make life more comfortable for my family, and my mom went back to nursing school at 33 years old just so my brother and I could have a better life.
These things don't even make a dent in the mountain of deeds that my parents have done for our family just in the 20 years that I've been alive.
So the question that I've been asking myself over the past year or so is "How can I, in good conscience, allow my parents take on the burden of my college tuition?"
Ever since the day I could grasp the concept of what college truly is, I have wanted to go.
The fact that I have the privilege and ability to attend college isn't something that has ever been lost on me. When I graduate with my BA I will be the first person in my immediate family to graduate from a university, and when I graduate law school I will be the first person in my entire family to graduate with a doctorate.
That is something that I have always taken extreme pride in and something that I know will make my whole family proud.
However, the knowledge that MY dreams will put my parents in debt for 20 plus years is something that gnaws at my bones from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep.
It is a guilt that I feel guilty for feeling guilty about, something that really gets my anxiety motor running.
My parents have given me literally EVERYTHING in life, and now as an adult, they are giving me even more than I could ever ask for.
They always tell me that it is their job as parents to care for my brother and me and that means paying for us to follow our dreams.
That bit of reassurance is just enough to keep me from having a full-scale breakdown, but it doesn't really help with the intense guilt of putting my parents in serious debt.
I will never forget the day I registered for my first semester of high school six years ago, and I felt that first twinge of guilt.
My mom and I walked into the stifling hot hallways of Walker High School, and I had my very first experience with being "grown-up".
After I registered for all of my classes, my counselor looked at me and asked me what my plans were for after I graduated. I didn't really understand why she was asking me about college when I had literally JUST registered for my first semester of ninth grade, but I still gave her my answer... law school.
She visibly winced, and she and my mom shared a look before she chuckled and replied, "You're a lucky girl to have parents who love you enough to put that much money into your future."
I just awkwardly chuckled and nodded, not really understanding why she was being so weird about my choice of post-secondary education.
When we got in the car, I asked my mom why she had said that.
Now, I did know that college was expensive and that law school was even more so, but I had never really put any thought into how people actually PAID for it until this moment.
My mom then explained loans and interests and all the lovely bells and whistles that accompanied attending college. I went white when she explained all of this, trying to think about how the hell I was going to pay over $100,000 for a degree.
Obviously, she noticed that I was having a mini existential crisis because my mom looked over at me and said, "Baby, your daddy and I will be paying for your first four years of college. Don't you worry about it."
Oh, boy, have I worried about it. For six years I have worried about it.
When I received my scholarships at my community college, my parents and I were elated. Me even more so, because I knew that my parents wouldn't have to pay for my first two years of college.
Then, as the years trudged on, my mom informed me that she would be paying for my first two years of law school as well.
She said that she had told me her and my dad would pay for four years of college and since I was on scholarship for two of those four…well, you get the picture.
When I bring my concerns up to my parents, they're always very to the point and final about the whole situation. They're my parents, and their job is to provide for me until the day I die.
This includes paying for college, so I won't start out life "in the hole."
Also, I am well aware of how unbelievably lucky and blessed I am to have parents that are able and willing to take on MY student debt. I know so many people who are working two or three jobs to be able to make ends meet just to have the chance to attend college so I am not taking this opportunity for granted.
I know that there are undeniably people out there, reading this article right now, that feel the exact same way that I do.
I'm here to tell you exactly what my parents tell me every single time I start freaking out about the loans.
If you are serious about school and a successful future, the best thing that your parents will ever do for you is to pay for you to get a degree.
Your parents have been preparing you for the moment you walk across the stage at graduation from the moment they first laid eyes on you, and they will do absolutely anything to help you get there.
So if you're like me and the only reason why you want to win the lottery is to be able to take away the student loan burden from your parental units, take a deep breath and ask them one question.
How can I repay you?
Their answer will be simple,
"Make us proud."