On Monday morning I very responsibly checked my BMO Harris online banking app to view my account balance. Upon logging in, I found that I had $16 in my checking account and only a little more in my savings. I am by no means a “responsible spender”, but this is the very first time I have had less than $100 to my name, and, surprisingly, I’m not that stressed about it. Why not?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, I am one of about 20 million college students in the United States with an average loan debt of over $30,000. Like many other broke college kids, I work to pay car payments, rent checks, tuition bills and more. My positions include waitress, unpaid intern, unpaid student journalist, and babysitter.
I have a pretty hippie-esque philosophy when it comes to life; everything will work itself out if you have the freedom to make it do so. And, fortunately, I do. I have the ability to go to school and learn more and I have the ability to work and earn more.
In the journalism program at UW-Milwaukee, I have learned how to cover an event, report spot news, interview sources, create a website, start a podcast, grow an audience on social media, optimize posts for search engines, use applications to create video and audio stories, file open records requests, make a stellar resume and more. Everyone micro-analyzes “college as an investment”, and in my case, I think it will pay off.
According to the Census Bureau, almost 10 years ago now, 15.2 percent of the population lived under the poverty line. At that time 51.8 percent of college students living independently off-campus lived below the poverty line.
Sometimes I catch myself complaining about having to go to work or class, having “no food or “nothing to wear”, and I feel like an a******. Although living on ramen and bread sandwiches (a slice of bread folded in half) and sleeping all the time is an unhealthy way to live, I’m expecting it to be over soon. At least I have the opportunity to take my life from the suburbs of southeastern Wisconsin to something much more.