Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sayonara SallieMae!

I did something I never thought I’d do last month. Nooooo, I didn’t apply to work in a daycare so I could spend more time around kids. But I did this:

Back when things were dated as 19**, I decided to go to college. Much to the surprise of my parents, who apparently thought I was just going to off and become a famous writer by looking cute. I applied to 2 schools within a 50-mile radius of my hometown. I didn’t want to stray too far from my then boyfriend, err, my parents I mean.

The way I came to go to King’s College, however, was fate. I think. I attribute a lot of things in my life to fate, but I digress.

It was April of my senior year and I was still undecided between the two state schools (mind you, all my other classmates had their school, let alone dorm comforter, picked out by then). One Friday, I got a phone call from a rep at King’s.

“You haven’t applied to King’s yet and the application is due today.”

As I frantically shuffle through my piles of school brochures because I have no idea where King’s even is, I say, “Um, I guess I’m not applying.”

“But you may be eligible for a scholarship.”

Now I’m just thinking they must have called the wrong household. Although I hung out with all 4.0 smarties and aspired to be them and get into their National Honor Society and be invited to the annual Renaissance Banquet, I was merely a B student. All I could do was murmur, “Huh?”

“Yes, you should apply and we shall see about the scholarship. We’ll even extend the application until next week. In fact, can you take a trip up here next week for your scholarship interview?”

I’m just extremely baffled because they don’t even know if I can spell the word college correctly on my application. They must be desperate. But, I fly with it and agree. Why the heck not?

Cha-cha forward to the next week and Short on Coffee, Big on Lotto & I make the drive to Pennsylvania, which just seemed like it was across the country to this small town 17-year-old. I fell in love with the campus and the people almost immediately. And I thought I did okay at the scholarship interview, except when the person asked me how I felt about the Cold War, to which I responded, “what war is that? When did that one happen?” So much for being the typical journalist up on current events.

On the way home, my dad broke some news to me delicately.

“You know you can’t go to King’s, honey. It’s way too expensive and I would rather not see you get yourself so many school loans. Look at your sister. She has mounds of debt and now she is going to grad school to put herself in even more debt. You’d have to get at least a half scholarship to even consider going to this pricy private school. And while I do think you are a smart girl, I don’t want you to get your hopes up high on that.”

I was okay with all that. I kind of figured I wasn’t scholarship material. And he was right. My sister would often talk in her sleep about her school loans and how broke she was. No, really, she would. Come to think of it, she still does.

Then I got the letter from King’s. They wanted to pay for 50% of my tuition!!! Holy crap I was smart. Or they were just charmed by me. It was still over my “price range,” but I was 17 and na├»ve about money woes, despite my dad’s warnings.

So I ended up at Kings.

I even scored another scholarship from working my ass off at the newspaper, plus I did work-study at the library. It all helped, but damn, I still ended up with a buttload in school loans. Happy graduation to you!

After graduation, I decided I should volunteer for a year because the school loans could wait, couldn’t they? Oh they waited. And accrued interest. Nice one.

When I finally landed my first real-paying—albeit low-paying—job, I quickly got acquainted with basically signing my paychecks over to Sallie Mae and Chase. I don’t even know how I survived those early years of adult life. I lived mostly on trail mix, but sometimes, on really special days, SmokingHotRoomie would bring home goodies from the restaurant where she worked. Come to think of it, she was broke too. We wallowed in our debt together.

For years, I didn’t even look at the remaining student loan balance. Low and behold, I married someone who HATES debt and pretty much asks me every day when I’m paying off my student loans. So by his urging, I upped my payments for the smaller loan as soon as I could. And I managed to pay it off a whole year ahead of schedule (which was really the original point of this post, but you know how I like to ramble).

As for the other loan, let’s not talk about it. Today is a day of celebration. You know what? I wouldn’t trade my experience at King’s for the world. Honestly. Everything happens for a reason and it is part of the reason I am where I am today.

I still don’t know the King’s rep who called me that fateful Friday, but I’d like to hug him.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! That is a good feeling!

Michelle Moser Photography said...

Such a great story!!! I love it!

Compton's Corner said...

Had you not gone to King's, you never would have met me. And that would have left a big hole in your life. :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you... I am envious.... God knows how long I will be paying mine off!