College, as many people will likely agree, is hard. And it's hard for a lot of reasons: the transition to college is difficult, there is a lot of responsibility and many students suffer from homesickness. Students have to learn very quickly how to manage their time between going to classes, doing homework, finding time to study, making time for friends, and remembering to eat (and to eat well).
Something I believe that is not talked about enough is how to pay for college, especially if you're struggling to take out a private loan.
I'm thankful that while I was in high school I had to take a financial literacy course, where I was educated briefly about credit scores and how easily they can be affected, the types of loans and how to get one, and the importance of scholarships and grants.
What no one prepared me for is how to get a loan when my parent's credit score is low.
For those of you who are unaware, a credit score can be impacted by something simple like paying your bills on time. Having a "little bit" of debt is a good thing (because it means you have something to pay off). By paying on time, you essentially are showing the banks you're responsible, which maintains your credit score. Things like the amount of time you've had a "line of credit" also impacts your score.
Credit is scary - messing it up can be even scarier, and it's so easy to do so. Missed payments on bills can negatively affect your score.
When I was younger, my parents came into a large sum of debt that they're still attempting to pay off seven or eight years later. Even though they're actively paying off the debt, their credit score is still on the low side, and my parents have too much debt to even be considered for another loan.
So, what is someone like me to do? I have a good credit score, but I don't make enough money to be considered for a private loan on my own. And every time I've gotten my mom to cosign my student loan, we've been denied. After a while, it gets super frustrating because my parents aren't going to be the ones paying my bills every month.
I understand that I, a 20-year-old, may not be "financially responsible" yet (but I mean who is, really?), and banks want the cosigner to ensure that they'll get their money. 90% of student loans are cosigned, which was actually a shocking number to me.
But what about those students who cannot find a cosigner? What are they supposed to do?
And yes, I am aware that there are grants and scholarships out there, but even those don't cover the entire cost of tuition. I'm aware of work-study, but even those jobs are hard to come across sometimes.
I feel greedy because all I want is my degree. I will do whatever it takes; I love going to school, I love learning, and I have been offered so many fantastic opportunities. I have met so many wonderful people. I don't want to give that up. I know education isn't everything, people do just fine without a college degree. But I want one.
Paying for college is so hard. Even after my financial aid last semester, I still owed $8,000. I got a loan by the skin of my teeth but this semester is looking grim.
Struggling to pay for college is not a fun time, especially when you're already super stressed because of classes and homesickness. It really shouldn't be this hard.