With the countless resources available at the UA, and a little planning, paying for college doesn’t have to be impossible. Thankfully, the UA offers highly competitive tuition rates compared to peer institutions, awarding $168 million in aid to Wildcats in 2012 (that’s before counting federal awards). We sat down with 3 Wildcats to discuss strategies, tips, and realities of paying for college.
2012 UA grad, Alexis Vasquez, was the first in her family to attend college. “I knew that I wanted to get a higher education but I also knew that I didn’t want to get into debt,” she says. To accomplish this, Alexis made the decision to pay for her education on her own. With a lot of careful planning, and hard work, she walked out of the university debt free. “I kept myself organized by estimating the following semester’s tuition costs and then working the necessary hours during the semester or summer before,” she says, “It was challenging, but it was so worth it.” As a transfer, Alexis recommends starting at a community college to get your general education classes done at half the price and then enrolling in a four-year school.
Kristen Brockel, a junior at the UA, pays her tuition with scholarships and then takes out student loans to pay for other school related things, like books and housing. On top of utilizing these resources, Kristen also works two part-time jobs to cover other costs like food and recreational activities. “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult. It is very difficult. But if you come to college and work hard, you have a chance at experiencing greater opportunities. It all has to do with making sacrifices now to have a better future later,” she says. Her success, like Alexis’, relies on careful planning. Kristen has a planner to keep track of when her homework is due, when her bills are due, and most importantly, when she gets paid. Kristen’s advice? Taking out a loan is better than the alternative: not earning a college degree.
Junior, Jacklyne Volpe, takes advantage of another UA resource, Scholarship Universe, the UA’s exclusive scholarship matching service. Instead of fitting in countless hours of work around her school schedule, she works hard to get scholarships. “The applications are online, it tells you exactly what requirement you need, and it’s just a matter of filling it out and doing it,” she says.
Jacklyne also uses her planner to keep her scholarship essays organized. “Scholarship Universe allows you to file scholarships according to whether you applied, received or are interested in it. It was neat how organized it kept me.” Jacklyne was able to use her awards to pay for tuition, rent and other living expenses. Jacklyne advises to put in the effort and apply for every scholarship you can; you may be surprised at the results!
You’ve read their stories; now create one of your own! Check out the resources below: