A while ago, I went back to school to work on a bachelor’s degree in web design and interactive media. I signed up at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division part time, as it was perfect for my schedule and would allow me to do classes on my own time while still working and maintaining a family life. For five years, I stuck with it doggedly, working my way through 37 classes and maintaining a GPA of 3.9. I’m just starting my 4th year classes, so I have about a year and a half left to go at my current pace. Things were great until last week, when it all came to a screeching halt.
I have hit the federal cap for financial aid. I knew the program was drastically overpriced, and I was going to be looking at a fortune in debt, but my financial councilors never told me there was a fixed limit of $57,500 per individual, and that I had exceeded it. They let it pass and started sending me bills. I probably would have seen it had I looked at the numbers more closely, but I wasn’t focusing on things like that.
In order to finish my degree, I needed $28k, which is a sizable dollar amount. I applied to Sallie Mae for a loan, but they declined me, saying I would need a cosigner for that amount. I had a bright spot when I found out I received and academic achievement scholarship, and the amount I now need to finish is only $11k. Quite a big difference! I reapplied to Sallie Mae, and they shot me down again. That’s where I currently am in the process.
So, now I’m hunting for any scholarships or grants I can find. Once I’m out of school, which is about ten days, I have six months before I have to start paying back my loans. For that time, I’ll be scouring the ‘net for funding. People keep telling me that there are lots of opportunities that are going unclaimed, and I only need to apply some effort to look for them. If too much time passes, I’m guessing I’ll lose my scholarship, and the amount I need will soar back to $28k.
I have to find a way to make this work. I can’t have come this far in the process for nothing. If there’s a way, I’ll find it, but I’m sure it won’t be an easy search.