paying for school as an independent student

i just found out recently that i got into the id program that was my top choice. now the reality of giving up a (modest) income to take out loans is starting to kick in. i will be living off campus while attending school and was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to find money to pay for living expenses. i am waiting on my financial aid package and expect that i’ll have the option for a little bit of work-study. i can certainly get a job to help pay the bills, but i don’t want to take too much time away from school to work, since i am returning back to school for an accelerated bachelor’s degree. has anyone gone back to school full-time as an independent student? any words of advice? i spoke with financial aid and heard about one possible alternative loan, but i don’t get the feeling it’ll be able to provide me with much. by the way, school is in upstate ny…syracuse, so the cost of living isn’t that bad.


I started college completely on my own at age 22, i sucked it up and lived in the dorms, got a work study position and took out private loans to cover what wasn’t covered by grants and scholarships.

I busted my ass and every semester the free money to borrowed money ratio improved. I got all my liberal arts classes out of the way at a local community college and took max credits every semester which cut a full year off of the time to graduation and took 2 semesters worth of big boy loans off my back.

In the end i still came out with a very significant amount of debt but because i worked hard and put in the time i landed in a job that allows me to pay off the debt and stay happy.

My plan of being adopted by a wealthy elderly couple never worked out, perhaps it was the fact that I was already out of college or not actually orphaned. the backup plan of marrying into money - I guess that might still have a chance…but I got used to the idea of debt and loan payments after awhile.

look on the bright side.
Every time I’ve ever known someone that had rich parents that paid for their college, they just didn’t have an appreciation for much of anything.
Knowing what it’s like to work a crap job and the looming shadow of debt makes you appreciate the value of an education more, and should give you a lot more life experience to bring into your designs.
Life experience is like ammo.

Just push through, don’t sweat the loans, people saddle themselves with student loans every year, and there are a lot of success stories.


i guess i’m just wondering if there are loans out there designed to pay for a students living expenses. it doesn’t seem to me that there are. i guess working a regular job on the side is going to be the main way to pay the rent, etc.

thanks for all the advice…cordelia

a long time ago, there was a problem with students taking out loans and buying new cars instead of rent and food, that’s been stopped.
Some colleges will directly make loans to students if they prove hardship.

(I knew a guy who went on food stamps while getting an MFA at the expensive N.East art school because tuition exeeded loan caps)

I had similar experiences in school, loan caps (including allocated work-study)can be too low to cover the tuition. You’ll have to do things to live on the cheap, eating really crappy for the 4 years, no new clothes, same shoes for 2-3 years (you’re feet probably aren’t growing anymore, lol), etc. I also went to go live in the “shady” areas of town that still weren’t too far from campus, but cost less than half of anything near campus. You should be spending most of your time in studio or on campus so your apt is just a place to store clothes and sleep, so live cheap, it’s temporary.
Sometimes the student aid allocation includes the expected cost to stay in the dorms, that’s why you get an apt because you can find an apt that’ll cost less than the dorms yearly cost. Then that extra money you saved is what you can use for supplies, etc, I did my 4 years that way.
Also make sure you do the workstudy. It’s very low pay, but most of the times the jobs are very low effort so depending on what you do, you can get away with doing some of your school work at the same time. One of mine was as a building monitor, just sit there and have people sign in to make the buildings “safe”. Time sitting there getting paid was time I spent sketching and reading for my liberal arts classes, get the drift.
Good luck, just keep determined.