Your daughter sounds a lot like me at that age! My parents had the money to pay for college, but they thought it was important that I pay my own way. It was honestly one of the best experiences for me, because I took a lot of pride in earning it myself and frankly, I appreciated it so much more — for example, I took care of my books so I could sell them back, ate the food in my dorm that was included in my living plan, didn’t skip class, etc. On the other hand, my roommate’s parents paid her way and she was far less responsible. Granted, though, college wasn’t nearly expensive back when I did it (I graduated in undergrad in 2000 at it was like $7K per year and law school in 2003, which was $20K per year). But this is how I did it:
Undergrad (University of Minnesota – public):
– Chose an in-state public university so my tutition costs were lower. My other option was University of Wisconsin, which had a reciprocity agreement so I could have gone there for the price of MN tuition. I’d look into that!
– Applied for every possible merit-based scholarship I could find while in HS and landed one that helped a little ($2K per year I think).
– Worked a bunch of jobs year-round (I worked on campus for the athletics program and ticket office so I could get some hours in between classes and I was also a waitress … plus did extra jobs in the summer, like being a temp in an office).
– Graduated without needing to take out any loans.
Law School (William Mitchell College of Law – private):
– Got small a merit-based scholarship ($5K maybe?)
– Took out some student loans but also kept working so I didn’t have to have loans for the full amount of the cost. My first year I worked part-time in the law school admissions office and my second and third years I was a law clerk for a firm and worked about 30 hrs per week.
– Kept my cost of living down as much as possible until after I graduated.
– Made arragements to pay off my loans as quickly as I could to avoid getting hit with bigger bills down the road.
– This may not be applicable, but my government job has a loan-forgiveness program for people who work in public service for so many years …. not sure exactly how it works since it was started too late for me to qualify, but it’s worth looking into whether things like this exist on the other side of school.
Hope this helps!
PS I think living on campus in the dorms and having that full college experience is really important. My parents lived in MN and I went to a state school only 15 min away, but I still lived on campus and felt very independent. On the other hand, when my computer freaked out and lost all my notes the night before finals, or I needed to do laundry because the laundramat machines were broken, they were close enough to help out.
PSS One other thing. As a younger adult it didn’t occur to me how important it was to go to school where I eventually wanted to live. I too got all excited about schools in far away places (during a MN winter it’s pretty easy to think law school in CA looks amazing–ha!) but here’s the thing. While in school, you tend to meet people who will be connections down the road. You tend to do internships in places that might eventually hire you full-time. If you go to graduate school and are in a program that requires examinations for licensing (like the bar exam for lawyers), you learn things in school that are pertinent to that state’s exam but maybe not other state’s exams. Etc. etc. etc. So sure, I could have gone to law school in CA, but I never wanted to live there – I always intended to settle down close to my family for the long-haul. Trying to come back to MN to find a job in a competative market after being away for years in school would have been REALLY hard. Whereas being in MN for school, all those opportunities just sort of developed for me. Plus, all the friends I made in college tended to stick around the area, and we are all still friends at age 40 with kids. Just something to think about …
PSSS (can’t seem to stop! LOL) I disagree with the comments telling her to start off at community college. She has a stellar academic record and can attend a well-ranked university. She will not get a typical college experience at community college … at least at my university (which was a huge “Big10” school), the only real “college experience” was freshman year in the dorms – that’s where I met all my friends, got involved in campus activities, etc. After freshman year, people tended to move off campus with the friends they met their first year. I think it would be hard to transfer into a unversity as a sophomore or junior and actually make friends and feel connected to the school. Plus, going to community college might actually hurt her career prospects in the long run depending on what she ends up doing professionally.
There are so many forms of aid available these days, and tons of private scholaships. You just have to do your research to find them!