When you are a parent, attending college is a delicate balancing act.
Parents who don’t attend college have the work-life balance to worry about–deciding whether to work outside the home, or work at home, full-time or part-time, or whether one parent should stay home with the children full-time.
These are decisions that parents must think carefully about before deciding what is best for the children AND the parents, and then they have to decide what option makes the most sense for their families right now.
Parents who attend college have to balance work and life like any parent, but we also have to fit school in there somehow.
Fellow students and professors at our college ask John and me how we do it. How do we handle taking 12-15 credits (sometimes 9, but that’s rare) a semester, plus work, plus take care of our four children and our dog. John tells them that we don’t sleep. He’s only sort of kidding, we obviously sleep at night, but not as much as we should, so yeah, we’re tired a lot.
What we don’t tell people is probably what they really want to know but are too shy to ask: the truth about our finances.
The truth is that we barely scrape by most months. We receive just about every kind of government assistance that we qualify for: housing assistance to pay rent, food stamps, day care assistance, Medicaid, and federal grant funding and scholarships for college.
This semester, my financial aid was denied. I filed an appeal (barely on time, but I filed it!) and now I’m playing the waiting game. It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t heard anything.
And now I’m freaking out. EVERYTHING is riding on my financial aid appeal.
The child care assistance office needs my financial aid information to finish processing my renewal application. The day care needs the approval from the child care assistance office to process January and February’s billing. John and I will have to pay the full amount if our child care assistance application is denied.
And I need the financial aid to go through because I don’t have $2,000 laying around to pay for my tuition. If my appeal is denied, I will have to withdraw from all of my classes. If I am no longer a student, I’ll be fired from my student job.
So that’s where we are today… waiting for the financial aid office to do something with my appeal. Will they deny it? Will they approve it? Who knows! But they better do something quick because my child care assistance caseworker said she will have to deny my application on Friday if my financial aid hasn’t come through by then.
In the meantime, I have chapters to read, notes to take, homework to do. I can’t ignore my classes because what if my financial aid appeal is approved?