Grad School Chronicles: financial aid and the timeless art of pestering people

i’m about to enter the terrifying world of student loans, y’all.

hold me. i’m scared.

actually, oddly, i’m not that scared. i was lucky and had parents who paid for college, but it’s always been understood that i would cover graduate school. since i don’t have thirty thousand in cash sitting around, i applied for student loans.

and then i waited. and waited. and waited.

i was supposed to hear on monday about any and all financial aid packages i’d been approved for. this did not happen. i sent a gentle (panicked) inquiry to the financial aid offices.

“oh, we have to hear from your department”

cue panic. was i supposed to fill out some other form with my program? what do they need to hear?

apparently they just needed confirmation that i was not getting aid from my program. no problem – in a terminal master’s program, it is very rare to get aid from the department. scholarships or awards, sure, but this school is not big on letting master’s students work as TAs or anything like that. i sent a quick email to my program to confirm that was all they needed to tell financial aid. then i heard from financial aid.

“we’ll let graduate students know of packages somewhere between the end of july and august 15”

erm. cue panic again. tuition is due august 18 – do they really expect me to take three whole days to decide what loans to get? i need a solid week to crunch numbers and be full of grown-up wisdom.

then, this morning dawned. hot and muggy. caffeine-free. not a great start. except…what’s that? an email? from financial aid? (my brain: fool, you probably pissed them off and they’re denying you aid and now you need to sell your body on the streets)

the email was from a lovely woman in financal aid, telling me that she’d heard i was worried about when i would receive my offer, and so she’d found my case and pushed it through!

y’all? I HAS MANY MONIES. well, many monies being offered. i do not want all the monies, because some of the monies are like “oh, we’re pretty and happy and we’ll charge you quadruple interest and require your firstborn when you’re done with school”.

i’ve been crunching numbers and talking to my roommate who went through a similar “figuring out numbers” thing last summer when he was preparing to enter his MA program. i think i know what i will be accepting. i just need to get confirmation of how much i will be getting paid per hour at my job (i’ll be staying on for ten hours a week), then i’ll be clicking “accept” on a couple of loans, and beginning whatever process i need to complete in order to have one year of loans in my name.

due to a few other things, it doesn’t look like i will need to get loans for my second year of the program, which is fantastic. and lucky. i have to keep reminding myself how lucky i am. i think that’s why i’m remaining calm about loans.