What Happens When You Run Out of Money for College (and How You Can Avoid It)
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Alicia Graves was already walking a financial tightrope to afford college when a severe illness led to her losing her merit scholarship, forcing her to drop most of her classes.
“When I lost my merit award, my adviser from my journalism class helped pay for me to take a few terms of only two classes out of her own pocket,” said Graves, a freelance journalist and photographer from Oregon, adding that the stress of managing school finances caused many sleepless nights.
“At times, I had no idea if I’d have enough gas to make it to my classes. I had to watch how much my food cost,” she said. “There was a couple of months where my power was shut off and I had to come up with the funds to get it turned back on.”
Graves, who went on to complete her associate’s degree in 2018 and has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future, is one of the millions of American college students who have had to drop classes or postpone a degree for personal loans for bad credit financial reasons. It took her three years to complete a two-year program.
The high cost of tuition, a generation faced with crushing student loan debt, and a cap on federal borrowing has left many students scrambling to secure any type of funding that will keep them in school, or simply dropping out without a degree.
Financial Barriers Mount for Many College Students
More than 30% of students who start at 4-year colleges haven’t completed their degree after six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. While 9.4% were still enrolled after six years, nearly 23% had dropped out.
Leaving school entirely, experts say, can be disastrous down the line. College graduates earn more money than non-degree holders and are on better footing to pay off their debts.