9 answers

I'm in my freshman year in college and it is difficult for me to financially do it I'm not a quitter but can anyone offer some good advice?

Updated Mamou, Louisiana

9 answers

Tom’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

You didn't say what type of school you were going to but if it's a 4 year college, and if you are having financial difficulties now I would suggest you may need to think about some drastic action. More on that in a moment. The reason you need to take action is because if you don't have an idea where the money is coming from that you will need, you will likely be tempted to borrow it.  If you are a freshman, then three years of borrowing money is usually not prudent. Student debt is insidious. Among other things student debt cannot be forgiven in a bankruptcy. You are stuck with it for life. It is also pretty easy to acquire. Lots of people will want to lend you money.  Avoid any student debt you possibly can. Avoid any student debt you can.

Ok, here's some drastic actions. 1. Downsize your college. Transfer to a community college for at least the two first years.  2.  From whatever institution, take as many classes online as you can..... provided you check before hand that they will be accepted at your original college. 3.  Transfer to a college that offers the degree you are after, but that simply costs less to attend. 4. Transfer to a college that offers the degree you are after but that can be done fully online.   5.  Look into certificate programs in your area of interest.  These usually are 1-2 years and still lead to very decent career opportunities.

David, if you are financially concerned now, now is the time to take positive action to avoid borrowing one dime more than you absolutely must. Sounds like you are a prudent person. Good luck!

Michael’s Answer

Updated California, CA

Going to college with limited financial means is like starting your own company. Be frugal (no purchased Starbucks coffee's, take mass transit, continue to apply for scholarships every year, etc), be scrapy (fight and claw your way thru, be flexible/nimble to change directions when needed and look for opportunities that others may have missed) and leverage your network (college counselors, people in the job area you are interested in, your professors, clubs, alumni of the school you are in, etc.). good luck! The fact you are asking this question, shows you have the curiosity/smarts to solve this!

James’s Answer

Updated Raleigh, North Carolina

Congrats on being accepted, admitted & starting your first step to better your future! I think there are so many aspects to this to consider, I will do my best to share my perspective! I went into my freshman year into a 4Y university without a fair understanding of the financial commitment I was getting involved with. Each school has a set tuition cost, your first step would be here, how much do you NEED to pay for tuition. This is what will keep you enrolled & active in taking courses, which will lead to your major & then to your graduation with a degree in your chosen field. Once you have a baseline on how much you need to stay enrolled in school, you should visit the Financial Aid office to be sure you are taking advantage of ALL grants & scholarships you could very well be eligible for. I would suggest to fully exhaust your efforts in finding out your eligiblity on these before you look into student loans to pay for college. Financial Aid will offer you more than just programs where you can receive funding to go to school, they also offer programs that will give you a job on campus that you can earn money for living expenses or even to go towards your tuition costs. I personally had 3 jobs while studying in college, and the majority of the money I earned went straight into my living expenses throughout college. To close this out, I would not consider yourself a 'quitter' if you have to change your plans as far as your education goes. Even if that means you need to reconsider your timing on being a student. Maybe your pathway involves SAVING money ahead of time for school vs taking out loans. Or maybe you could look into community college plans that offer a transfer program into a University.

James recommends the following next steps:

  • Talk to Financial Aid resources at your school!

Albert’s Answer

Updated Greensboro, North Carolina


I hope you are able to utilize the helpful information listed above. I would suggest that you look into the federal loans that you qualify for. At this stage in your life, taking on debt for your education can be a tough decision. Even though the debt number will be a scary site, the overall time value of money related to the debt and the education you receive will be worth it.

On a personal note, I took on debt for my undergrad, but decided to go to a less expensive school for my masters program to limit any further debt.

Heather’s Answer

Hey David B.,

Have you spoken with your financial aid department at college at all? I had a similar problem and they helped set me up with a "workstudy" job that was set up to directly pay the school. I was able to turn that workstudy job into a job over the summer as well.

To Ernst's point, reducing your class load so you can work at the same time is an option. It may take you a bit longer, but you'll still get there!

Best wishes,

Heather recommends the following next steps:

  • Talk with your Financial Aid Department at School. Their job is to help you figure this out!

Amy’s Answer

Updated North Carolina, North Carolina

I agree that you should talk to the Financial Aid department in your school right away. They can tell you about scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities and may even have potential job listings for part-time work. You may also want to consider changing from being a full-time student to a part-time student so that you can work. It may take you longer to earn your degree, but if you do not have to go into debt to finish school, it will be worth it. Good luck!

Jim’s Answer

Updated Lugoff, South Carolina

Going to school is hard if you have limited income. Make sure to enroll in FAFSA, this is a program to help with funding. Also make sure your school of choice has programs to help with funding or work to learn programs. Make sure to have a schedule that allows you to learn and work if needed. Dont quit stay with it!

Ryan’s Answer

Updated Charlotte, NC


I hope you are taking several good suggestions listed here. I think Tom hit on a couple of critical points - is the school you are going to, right now, in-state or out of state? That one little question can make the cost vastly different. The other point - could you transfer to a community college - is an excellent if often overlooked option. Taking generic/basic course work at a local community college and then transferring (make sure to connect with both schools to validate which courses are transferable is key).

On a personal note, I took on debt and worked two jobs while going to school. My summers were spent working full time to save for living expenses, pay for ancillaries (books), and using what remained to go ahead and pay off some of the debt early on. Something that is often glossed over in today's society is what are looking to get a degree in? This will be a critical factor in what makes sense for you to determine which path forward is widest. Are you looking to major in a field that provides a median income that will help you pay back any debt, are careers in your field of study growing?

I wish you the best in what is one of the most exciting and stressful times you have probably faced. I hope things go well and please keep us updated. We are all rooting for you.

Mr. Ernst’s Answer

Updated Newark, New Jersey

David B,

Take 2 courses per semester. You can find a job on the campus or around the campus. There are also organizations that can help you with this situation. I will post a link at the bottom for you. I wish you the best on your journey.