Afternoon Inquisition

AI: The Rising Cost of Sheepskin

University students across the US planned to protest education funding cuts today at state colleges and universities. The cuts are making an already debt-intensive pursuit even more expensive for some students, not to mention more time-consuming, as some students have to wait semesters, even years, to take courses that apply to their degrees.

If you are a current college student, how are you adapting to higher education costs and possibly a longer college career? And for those of you with college already behind you, what did you do to pay the bills as a student? Tutoring? Playing guitar for coins on the quad? Grifting?

Share your stories with us.

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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48 Comments

  1. I was lucky enough to have rich parents and also a bunch of money saved up over the years. I did have a falling out with my father halfway through and my mom couldn’t touch the money because of a messy divorce, so I ended up getting student loans.

    One thing I did in college was to find free food. It almost became a game for me and my friends. There was usually some event free open to the students at least twice a week. We’d check bulletin boards and the school paper and go to random things that we weren’t interested in just to get free ice cream or sandwiches.

    I also had a work-study job and I babysat pretty often. I found especially great family that was really rich so they paid me well, and the kids were really great on top of that.

  2. I was lucky enough to get a good education from a state university for a good price. I think the tuition during my first semester was $400. I worked at the computer center to pay for it with money left over for rent and pizza.

  3. Isn’t the entire point of going to college to get an education in a field that you need a diploma to work in, therefore your education pays for itself given that you now have a job that pays higher because it requires a degree. Shouldn’t everything work itself out?

    I think the bigger issue is as follows, people going to college with absolutly no clue as to what they want to do with their lives, it seems to me that many people waste their time and money.

    I don’t have the exact numbers off the top of my head, but isn’t it roughly half of every who goes to college doesn’t finish, and I believe it’s less than half use their degree, ever. I don’t know the exact numbers but maybe if people thought long term before making life decisions and spending tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  4. I put my way through college cooking in restaurants and working in psychiatric hospitals. I also lived in some amazingly colorful cheep rentals to make ends meet. I have one college age child and another who will be in college the year after next. Both children have been told they can stay home for free and attend local colleges, I’ll even continue to pay for their cell phones and high speed internet. We’ve also strongly discouraged them from taking out loans or getting into any debt until they are done with college. And they know if they go to another college in another city their parents will pay for tuition up to what we’ve saved, but not room and board. As selfish as it sounds it’s more important for me to not go into debt for my kiddos education than for them to be bothered by living at home and attending a local state university.

  5. @James Fox: Actually, you’re right. From what I’ve heard (sorry, no references) some people believe it would be bad for you to go into debt for your kids tution instead of your kids. You’ll have on average about 40 years to get out of debt, while they will have 60.

    The counter to that argument is that they may not be responsible enough to use debt wisely.

    My counter to that…Some people are 40 and still can’t use debt wisely.

  6. @magicdude20:

    Isn’t the entire point of going to college to get an education in a field that you need a diploma to work in, therefore your education pays for itself given that you now have a job that pays higher because it requires a degree. Shouldn’t everything work itself out?

    The problem here is that you won’t get the money until after you get the degree. You basically have to live on money that you are borrowing from your future, but with interest added. College is certainly an investment for a long-term plan, but money is tight in the short term even if you’re guaranteed to make six figures 10 years from now.

  7. I also went to a good state school that was relatively cheap. Mostly I worked in computer labs for various colleges.

    The most fun was doing close-up magic for GE hospitality suites.

    The work in computer labs lead to the the most lucrative which was formatting grad student papers. They would pay a lot to have me replace spaces with tabs in their data tables… they would pay more than one would expect.

  8. I went to a community college for the first two years, which was free for me as I made high enough on my ACT to get the Presidential Scholarship. After that I transferred to a four year university, a small state school where I finished an ACS certified chemistry degree using an honor society scholarship I received from keeping a 3.8+ GPA in community college. In the end I only had $6,000 in loans at the end of it, including $2,000 in savings I made working part time delivering pizza.

    I’m in graduate school now, and they pay enough for me to live reasonably while putting away a little money. Haven’t paid my student loans down yet, though, as they’re still dormant while I go through graduate school.

    And to note, I didn’t receive any money directly from my parents. They bought me a mini-fridge an microwave as a gift, and later told me not to bother paying them back anymore for the car they loaned me moeny for, but I never received money directly from them.

  9. I’ve always had jobs in some form or fashion. We weren’t dirt poor when I was growing up, but we didn’t have a lot of extras. So as a kid, when I asked for things, my parents couldn’t afford to buy them, but told me if I could raise the money myself, I could have whatever it was I was asking for.

    So I started working any job I could find to be able to get some of the cool stuff I wanted. I was a dishwasher in a restaurant, I delivered newspapers, stocked groceries, and built condos all before I was 15.

    That same attitude helped me get through college. I had some scholarship money that got me through freshman year, but after that, I was a disc jockey at a Gospel radio station, I worked as a page in the Texas Senate, and I was a meat cutter. That’s right. I was Sam the Butcher.

    Point is, I managed to stay out of debt, but it took a lot of effort.

    Had education costs been as high then as they are now, I don’t know if my little jobs would have covered it all.

  10. I’ve got news for you… it is more expensive to run a university too! The cost of retaining quality faculty, heating buildings, keeping lights on, paying custodians, new roofs, etc, etc, etc. It costs millions to keep this joint operating and the state and federal governments keep cutting their support. What is your education worth? If it increases your earning potential then maybe it is worth it.

    As a faculty member at a great state school, the students here get a real bargain. I see them protesting high costs- you mean, the $4340 in annual in-state tuition? I’d bet a significant set spend that much on jeans and shoes. For that price you have access to faculty at the cutting edge of their disciplines and a potential for personal, professional training. That’s a deal in my book!

    Why does a higher education cost so much? Because it is worth it. If it’s not, don’t do it.

    I spent 13 years in school after high school and four years as a postdoc and ran up $17K in debt. It can be done. You have to live cheap, work jobs and scrounge for every scholarship you can get. It is a new model for higher education and the clever come out on top.

  11. I’m in Canada, so my education is apparently a bit cheaper than in the states (I have friends who came here from the US because they didn’t want to spend as much on their education.) My parents are paying for the bulk of my education, which is good since my degree doesn’t have any particular job at the end (it’s linguistics – more specifically, I’m focusing on sociolinguistics). I’m doing Co-op, so I alternate between working and study, and I’m now using that money to pay for rent/food/fun stuff. I’ve also gotten a few scholarships. But basically, my parents are paying for it.

  12. My total student loans upon graduating with a B.Sc. (CIS) were at $30k. After interest, I wound up having paid close to $60k altogether. And all the time I was in college I was starving to death. Seriously, I’m over 250 and not excessively fat (there’s some pudge) and I graduated college at 130.

    I looked at it as an investment, and soon enough I’ll be making what I assume will be an even larger investment to get my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology. I’ll have to do it part time, but it’s what I want to know, so that’s how I’m going to go about it.

    Once upon a time, my mom told me that going to college was the worst decision she ever made. I was dumbfounded. She was a woman who had lived a life where her father had constantly called her stupid and treated her like an idiot. She dropped out of school to become a secretary, and had a long career working in typing pools and dress stores. Then when I was in elementary school, suddenly she wanted to go to University. She graduated with distinction, and was an entirely different and much improved person.

    But it cost a lot.

    Sigh.

  13. I spent 2.5 years at a state university wasting my time. I was a computer engineering major and struggled through the crap I wasn’t interested in to get to the good stuff, just to find out that the classes I really wanted to learn stuff in were taught by boring professors with heavy accents and no interest in forming a real relationship with their students. This was mostly on my parents dime, so I didn’t care that I wasn’t preforming. The fall semester of my junior year I failed pretty much everything due to complete lack of motivation. My parents (wisely) decided to stop paying for my education, and I came home and enrolled in the local community college.

    I learned so much more in community college and got hands on, real world education rather than “weed out” classes full of busy work. I had to pay for tuition myself, so any failed classes would be MY money wasted. I participated on a team that made it to a national level competition (Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition) and graduated knowing what I wanted to do for my career.

    I’m now employed full time at an employer that will pay for me to go finish my B.S. degree on my own time, which I plan to start next autumn.

    My advice to any student is to start out at a community college rather than spend big bucks at a state or private school for the 101 level classes. It saves money and you will meet a much more diverse set of students.

  14. When I was looking at possible places to be born I noticed higher education was free in Norway, and a student loan for covering living expenses and such was relatively cheap.
    It could be argued that it would have been a good thing if I had had to work a little to make ends meet, but it’s a bit late for that now.

  15. I was an exchange student in my last year of high school, so I didn’t have much time to make money before I went off to university. The first year I lived with relatives, got some money from parents, couple of bursaries and a small student loan. Summer after my first year, I went home and worked in tourism, saved money and got some more supplementation from my parents and student loans. After that, I got a position as a research assistant for a PhD student studying the effects of logging on fish. I lived in a logging camp for the next 2 summers, staying with relatives or couch-surfing whenever I was lucky enough to come into town. The savings on rent and food pretty much meant that I made enough money to get me through most of the rest of the year with minimal student loan supplementation. I came out of my 4 year degree $10,000 in debt (not bad, considering what I’ve heard from others).

    My Master’s was funded entirely on grad-student stipends, scholarships, grants, and a couple of TA-ships for pocket change.

  16. I worked though a lot of high school and was smart enough to end up with a few scholarships when I finished. I worked through all of my 5 years of college to end up with one useful (chemistry) degree, one kind of useful (biochemistry) degree, and one useless but fun (psychology) degree form the University of Michigan. Between the scholarships and money I saved in high school, I was able to pay most of my tuition, and worked various jobs (retail, taught kickboxing, chemistry intern) to pay for books, housing, and food in undergrad. Work paid for most of grad school for me, which was nice, and having a real job paid for the rest, so I managed to graduate with no debt from either program.
    I think a big problem is people racking up tons of dept (up to 6 figures for some) going in to a field that has no applicable jobs attached at the end. If people had thought more about what they were going to do with their degrees, rather than just going with what was interesting, this would likely be less of a problem.

  17. @infinitemonkey: I need to be putting my extra into retirements funds and it’s a no win game to stop that for my children’s education. Let’s be realistic I have no expectation that my children will be paying my bills were I to run out of money late in my retirement. Better to have the money and let my children sort themselves out; because I’m certainly not rich and much of what seem expected for a college education can only be experienced by the very bright with scholarships’, through the accumulation of staggering debt, working while in school, or having rich parents. We came up with a solution that takes care of the education and saves money. Life is about choices and making a choice based on a notion that college is a magic special never to be repeated time of freedom and exploration is insultingly naive and stupid.

    @Sam Ogden: Same here, no extras growing up at all. I worked every semester while I was in college and only had minimal loans.

    @kevinf: My wife’s been a college prof for 23 years and many of our friends are department chairs or have been college administrators. I’m not impressed at all with the ability of the bureaucracies that are universities to spend and budget wisely; or for that matter hire prof’s that are capable of providing a quality class room lecture.

  18. I didn’t rack up any debt for my undergraduate degree, but that changed in graduate school. Each year through grad school I had either a full time teaching or research assistantship or fellowship, but that didn’t keep me afloat. I supplemented my income by posing naked for strangers as an art model. And I borrowed money. But I was lucky–I’m now in a tenure track job, so I can afford the almost $600 a month I pay back to the US Department of Education.

    Yay, community colleges! Smaller classes and faculty that are there to teach! (Why, yes, I do teach at a community college, why do you ask?)

  19. For undergrad I had a scholarship that covered all of my state-university tuition with a tiny bit left over for books. I lived off of student loan money and income from tutoring, grading papers, and working in a shoe store part time.

    Masters: Tuition was covered by my pre-doctoral traineeship, which also paid a stipend. Supplemented with more student loans.

    Doctorate: in progress, started after 5 years of working full-time, continue to work full time and my employer reimburses a decent portion of my state-university tuition.

    I think I am paying $250 a month for 25 years or something on my student loans.

    I spent some time tutoring math at a community college and I think those folks really made the smartest move financially.

  20. I had part time jobs all through high school. I wanted an electric guitar, and having the money, bought one. When my dad discovered this, he was so enraged that I would squander my money so that he made me surrender my weekly earnings to him, and he would bank my money to keep it safely away from me. I had to pay half of my tuition, my dad the other half. I must have had a decent nest egg by the time I went off to college. Funny thing is, with that electric guitar, I promptly joined a bar band and gigged my way through college, earning more money than I would have flipping burgers. I worked summers and school vacations. A couple of the jobs made decent money. My last 2 semesters were paid from a full tuition scholarship. They must have been handing them out back then, because my grades were never superb. I made dean’s list a few times, but in my memory, everything but school work occupied my mind. Looking back, I was very lucky. I wasn’t rich, but everything was paid for and I don’t recall having money troubles. If I couldn’t afford something, I didn’t buy it and didn’t worry too much about it.

  21. Another Canadian here – tution is/was cheaper, though my Engineering degree from a top Canadian school was one of the most expensive out there. But student loans were easy to get with almost no interest – I actually knew students who borrowed money they didn’t actually need from the gov’t and then invested it at a much, much higher rate of return.

    I was enrolled in a co-op program which meant that every four months I swapped between studying and a (degree-related) job – the income from that helped pay for things, too. Though it did mean an extra year of school.

    Also, there was a psyche program at my school, in constant need of volunteers for studies – they paid $5 for a two (or three, or four) hour experiment. I did so many of those they actually banned me from the list.

  22. Tuition increases were approved here at University of Wyoming last autumn. The cost right now is $94 per credit hour for in-state students and will be raised to $99 beginning with the next school year. Out of state is going up from $358 to $376.

    I’d tell all of you to just come to Laramie but you’ll come and find out there’s nowhere to work because there are too many people living in a town this small.

  23. Parent view here. We told our daughter we would pay for 4 years undergraduate. She would need to work to pay for extras (like books). If she wanted a pizza, she would have to pay for it. She ofcourse got into a very expensive Ivy League school… this paid off as she got a paid grad school gig at a very very good school. Withouth the Ivy League, she would not be doing the free ride to the grad school. We also informed her that as much as she liked English and writing, we would be happier paying for a science or engineering degree! We didnt demand it, and thankfully she loves science, but Id have had trouble paying for Ivy League degree in something she might not get a job with. Let’s say she worked TWO jobs and double majored. College was not hanging at the beach or drinking… it was working hard and being a nanny on the weekends! Summer was working away from home at a lab in Florida – and I mean WORK. She even interned twice at the JREF (which helped a lot with getting into graduate school).

    Basically, it’s WORK.

    Also a top notch school, like many of the Ivy League schools, believe if you get accepted… they will make it work financially. You get financial aide based on your parents income. The thought is, “if you meet our standards, we want you here”. Often a top rated school is cheaper than the state school if you are what the top rated school wants.

    So if you are planning to go to grad school, and have it paid for, think science/engineering… and where you undergrad is very important. Look at college as work, not “school” with vacations. There are great paid summer internships, but they aren’t “fun”. So if you want to go hiking across Europe (and that is a form of education) maybe aim a little lower with the education or have parents that will cough up a bit.

    My parents didn’t pay for my college and I swore I would do so for my children if they decided to go to college. My daughter now thanks me when she sees how overwhelmed her peers are. I don’t mind when I see how hard she works, both in school and during her time off and breaks.

  24. I’m /still/ paying back my last undergrad loan. (I attended a Christian university and went through a lot of personal turmoil when I transitioned to being an atheist. I then took a year off of school and ended up losing my scholarships.) I should be finished paying everything off this summer.

    For grad school, I worked at Argonne National Lab while going to school and paid for school out-of-pocket for the most part. (I did put one semester on a credit card, which I finally paid off last year.)

  25. I am a current student seeking my Associates degree in accounting, and I will be full time starting in September. I also work (full-time) at a really boring insurance job. My job will pay about 1/3 of my tuition each year, so will have to take out loans for the other 2/3.

    I had hoped for scholarships, but despite the fact that I am over 25, have a 4.00 GPA, and a million other things that should make me eligible for scholarships, they keep giving that money to other people. I think it’s because I am still working. I really wish having a 4.00 would mean someone would just give me some damned money.

    So I will have to take out loans for the other 2/3 of my tuition, but at least my job pays my living expenses.

  26. I was exactly what magicdude described: when I graduated high school, I had no real idea what I wanted to be. I had disparate creative interests. My dad pushed me into engineering of all things, and I rebelled by flunking out. Five years and two colleges later, I had a creative writing degree and no real career path. Now, six years after that, I do know – graphic design, with a focus on science communication.

    I’m about 20k in the hole from my undergrad degree, which my parents help with. I’d be living mighty lean if they didn’t feel that it was their responsibility to help. I’m pretty determined to finance my impending grad school with as little loan money as possible. My wife and I are very thrifty, and it’s almost a game to see how simply we can live. I can only hope this really pays of when – cross my fingers – I start making real money on the other side of my MFA program.

    Being 33 and in this position isn’t great, but looking back, I have no idea how I could have done anything differently. I’m just thankful that I’ve arrived at a career with a true sense of purpose.

  27. @James Fox:

    Maybe where your wife works, well, sucks. Sorry. I produce a quality product as do my colleagues. Just because your wife works in a place with bad budgeting and lousy educating does not impugn the entire higher ed system. We’ve endured budget cut after budget cut and still offer excellent teacher/student ratios with professors at the cutting edge of research teaching classes. We bring in federal research dollars and take our work to undergrads, high schools and the public. We are good and we give a fantastic value.

    These days I think that we are the rule, not the exception. Most of us could make much more money in the private sector but choose to stay in higher education. It is that important.

    The $4300 tuition that my university charges a student to attend is an absolutely stellar value and it would be at twice the price. Just my two cents.

  28. @kevinf:

    “You have to live cheap, work jobs and scrounge for every scholarship you can get. It is a new model for higher education and the clever come out on top.”

    No the wealthy come out on top.

    People who have lots of money have a much easier time–with paying for good schools before college, for paying for help, for making sure that the kids don’t have to work extra jobs to make the family make ends meet, for having equipment for a good education.

    Of course there are “clever” kids who do really well to but that is not at all who the system is designed for. That you can’t see that extremely expensive education benefits the rich is just silly.

    I did well and worked and got loans and grants and all the rest. But it was much easier for kids who had parents who were able to help in anyway.

  29. I want to know how a college education became something that puts you tens of thousands of dollars in debt from something that you could pay for by working weekends and summers. Both my mother and my gf’s father were able to get their bachelors degrees doing just that. I have no idea how I’m supposed to do the same (even ignoring the piss poor state of the economy).

    Just tuition at my alma mater is ~10k for a year*. Working full time at a minimum wage job, you can expect ~$15000 a year.

    In 1970 (because it’s as good of a year as any), the cost for a year of tuition was ~$500**. Working full time at a minimum wage job you can expect ~$3000 a year.***

    So, going from where the cost of tuition is 1/6th of a year’s wage to where it is now 4/6th of a year’s wage.

    Why the fuck is it 4 times as much?

    *http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/administration/businessoffice/rates.htm
    **http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/49xx/doc4958/doc16.pdf
    ***http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._minimum_wages

  30. @kevinf: “We’ve endured budget cut after budget cut and still offer excellent teacher/student ratios with professors at the cutting edge of research teaching classes.”

    It’s great that you keep the student/teacher ratio low, since that can do nothing but help. But I will say that having professors at the cutting edge of research IN NO WAY equals having good educators on your payroll.

    I still remember my time at University of Missouri-Rolla, and the good teachers were almost never the good researchers. While I’ll freely admit that that’s anecdotal, and might be confined to the school, I question the value of having good researchers teaching your classes because of it.

    I have since moved to a local community college, where the teachers seem to be much better on average, and the tuition is ~1/4 what it was at UMR.

  31. Way back when, I got a Navy ROTC scholarship to cover my books and and fees. But it didn’t cover housing or food (or beer), so I worked on campus food service and took out a total of $12k loans for rent. On days I worked, we got a meal allowance, and I always made sure I got closing shift to get any leftovers. Considering the salary difference between a raw recruit and a newly minted officer, the loans paid for themselves in 2 years.

    Grad school was a sweet deal, though. Each of the services have graduate programs, either in association with universities, or with their own MS/PhD campuses. I got sent to the Navy Postgraduate School, kept on active duty, so no tuition, got paid, kept my benifits and lived in an awesome area (Monterey, CA). When I was retired due to medical issues, I was able to use my MS to get a job teaching at a state community college.

    Military service has it’s obvious faults, but the education benefits are incredible.

  32. @ZachTP: “I still remember my time at University of Missouri-Rolla, and the good teachers were almost never the good researchers.”
    Having done undergrad research in chemistry, I think it’s extremely important to have good researchers in your program. Working in a (commercial R&D) lab now, I probably learned more relevant stuff in my year+ of working for a professor than I did in any of my classes. That’s an experience you can’t have at a community college.

  33. @thatjoeguy: Okay, I can believe that. I never meant to say that it is somehow bad to have staff that do research.

    But what does the helpfulness of working with researchers have to do with their effectiveness in a classroom setting? How does the quality of their research aid their lab assistants in learning what is going on?

  34. @thatjoeguy: I teach at a community college (16 years and counting), and most cc’s offer Associates degrees, only, and stress teaching and student/professor relationships, so you can’t compare them to 4-year universities. I agree that if you are majoring in hard sciences like chemistry it is great to have an opportunity to do research alongside the best, but there is something to be said for great teaching.

    Four-year schools stress research and publication for their professors (it brings in the grant $, etc.), often at the expense of real teaching, which is usually left to the TA’s (I was one of them during grad school and caught the teaching bug there).

    I, too, went to a in-state school and so was spared the massive debt and student loan issues so many of my friends dealt with (and their sons and daughters are dealing with now). I would heartily recommend – for those that cannot afford a private school – to go to your in-state university. I am in NY, where our SUNY schools have an excellent rep, and are still waaaaay cheaper than any of the private schools in the area. Quality education can still be had at a reasonable price. You just need to shop around.

  35. @ZachTP:
    Yes. Some of the best researchers are abysmal in the classroom, and vice versa. My mentor in my doctoral program was an excellent teacher, and great at research design, even though she wasn’t very active in her own research. She was the least valued faculty member in the department (many faculty were openly disdainful to her), even though her extra teaching freed up other faculty to bring in those all important research dollars.

    Research is important to universities, but the universities wouldn’t exist without students. Teaching should be valued more than it currently is in universities.

  36. @loudlyquiet:

    Sure, it is always easier if you have money, no doubt. HOWEVER, it is no secret that if you want a good graduate student the best student is not “what is your GPA?” it is “What job did you work in high school?” Those that worked are almost always the best, and ultimately the most successful.

    @ZachTP:
    That’s sad. Historically you’d want the people driving the research to be the teachers in the classrooms. The fact is that grant-driven science selects a certain kind of psycho (like me) that maybe is not the best in the classroom (I’m okay, at least my reviews give me high marks).

    If I was a grad student I’d first look to see if the best researchers are actually teaching the courses.

  37. One other thought- grad school. If you want to go to grad school for free and get a $20,000 stipend then just go out and sign up. You’ll probably get it. The last two years I have had funds to hire a Ph.D. student and could not find one! This is a Ph.D. education in a great lab at the front of its field(s).

    I could not find a student here in the USA (much easier to get visa, hire, no language issues, etc) so I went to my list of 100 from China. I got two excellent students that are performing well in the project. No complaints.

    These opportunities are out there and I’m not the only one that can’t find students interested in pursing a rigorous graduate education. Grad programs everywhere have opportunities in the sciences.

  38. @kevinf: Didn’t say or imply where my wife works sucks. In fact it’s one of the top rated universities for it’s size and degree offerings. One of my wife’s side businesses is training college professors how to better communicate and give good lectures. The research she’s read indicates a broad and significant dissatisfaction among undergraduates with the quality of class room instruction. This is consistent in private and state universities. And while tenure is important in protecting academic independence, it can also be nothing more than an extreme form of civil service job protection for poor teachers regardless of their research or grant writing chops.

  39. i’ve got some small scholarships. plenty of loans. and saved mostly everything from my first job. but by accident i think what saved me the most money was doing the transfer thing by going to a community college for 2 years then transferring into a 4-yr institution. my mom has offered to help pay for my education but she’d only be taking out of her retirement, which is a bust.
    speaking as a college student, i’m fully aware of all the opportunity out there so pay for college through many scholarships, grants, job opportunities, so i think no one should complain about no way of paying for college.

  40. @mikerattlesnake: Gotcha beat: $30k in loans (as of late 2003) and I’m 52. I don’t EVER expect to finish paying them off…I don’t think I’ll live that long.

    @gabrielbrawley: Most of the cougars I’ve seen …Oh, you picked the wrong kind of cougars… ;-)

  41. I worked my ass off in high school and ended up getting a full ride at Purdue, plus other scholarships. I literally get a check from them every semester, yay! That covers housing, food, and books. I also work in a lab for pay (got a fellowship, again from working my ass off) so I actually have some spending money.

    Oh, and I think it helps that I have boobs. Still technically a minority in science.

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