College For My Sister

Today my sister went in to do her assessments and meet with the counselors and take a campus tour.

She did FANTASTIC on her assessment tests. She scored an 86% on her college algebra test (not bad for not studying) and didn’t pass the trig test (56%). Not surprising since she’s never taken a trig course, so she’ll start there with her math classes. She’ll need to get through Calc II.

Her English and Writing assessments were amazing. She got a 95% on one and a 96% on the other. She speak Engrish good. 😉 Her scores also qualify her being able to take the Honor’s level English Composition classes – which is great because she likes being in classes with other motivated/strong students. Also, it means she can take honors contracts in any of the classes she chooses (including Chemistry!)

She loved the school and is exceptionally excited and motivated to get this college process started. I think if she could begin taking classes tomorrow she would!

The main problem is that she doesn’t qualify for resident tuition this semester. I’ve only been here for 5 months and I would have to be here for 6 months to qualify. Turns out they didn’t even CHECK our residency in any way, so I could have lied and they never would have known (if we didn’t apply for financial aide, that is). Alas, now she’s stuck paying out of state tuition for this semester – which is twice as much as resident.

Oh yes, and also because she (and her mom) didn’t pay any attention to the deadlines she won’t be able to qualify for financial aid this semester either. But as soon as my dad gets residency here then we can apply for it for next semester.

To take 11 units at the non-resident tuition (the bare minimum she needs to take to be able to finish before Fall 2012 when she would transfer) will cost us $2,000.

In the summer she’ll need 11 units again, which at the resident tuition will cost $850. (Such a difference!)

She’ll then need 42 more units over the course of 3 more semesters ($3,120) to finish her degree.

So all told, just for classes, it will cost us around $6,000 to get my sister the first TWO years of her education. My goal (I don’t know if this is anyone else’s) is to get her through this period of her schooling with no student loans. Then when she transfers to a 4 year school she can pay for that with student loans. Hopefully doing well enough in her community college classes to get some decent transfer scholarships (I know she can get at least a 50% tuition scholarship at the school I teach at).

How are we going to pay for this $6,000 over the course of the next 2 years?

Well, I’m putting aside $100/month for her. This will come off of my debt payment money. I’ll still be paying OVER my minimum payment, but not as much as I could be. This comes out to $2,400 over the course of the next two years just from me.

My dad’s child support money will also pay for her tuition. So for the next year (she turned 17 today) he’ll be paying about $200/month to her. We’ve already agreed (her, her mother and I) that this money go to her tuition. That is another $2,400 this year. Total thus far: $4,800. Hopefully my dad will man up and actually pay this every month since she’ll be very dependent on it. Also, I hope he continues to contribute money to her until she graduates college. But that is between her and him after she turns 18.

Where is the rest coming from? Her mom wants to also help her. She’s giving her some money for food and books. She doesn’t have a lot of money because she’s been living off of disability and unemployment for pretty much as long as my sister has been alive. Her grandparents also want to help, but I don’t know how much, but since they’re both retired I doubt it will be more than a few hundred dollars over the course of a year. I plan on making a Smart Piggy account for her family to donate money to and see the progress. Hopefully each year we can get them to contribute $300-500 to help her pay for books.

Also, once she gets a job she’ll be paying me for rent and bills (15% of her income). Assuming that she worked 15 hours a week for minimum wage she’d get about $400/month. So I’d get $60/month for rent and bills (and $40 that would go to a savings account). I’m putting the rent/bills money right back in to her college fund. So assuming that she gets a job in February (a girl can dream!), we’d get around $1,200 to apply to her college fund.

Grand total (assuming everything works out!): $6,000.

Amazingly, exactly what we would need.

When I put it down on ‘paper’ like this it seems obtainable and reasonable. Also, the hope is that eventually she’ll be able to get some financial aide which will reduce this total significantly anyway.

Note: If I ever have kids, start saving for college immediately. Even $30/month for 18 years could pay for my sister’s first two years… no problem…

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