Financial aid is real

I’ll never forget the intensity on my friend’s face as she coached my oldest child through the college application process.

“Don’t worry about whether or not you live below the poverty line,” she said. “Financial aid is real!”

She went on with a list of commands: stop thinking about how much college will cost; think about how much you want to attend. Stop thinking about whether you fit into that world; think about how you want to change the world. Stop thinking about whether or not you’re good enough for them; think about what you want.

Until that conversation, I hadn’t realized that life experience — my past — was limiting my aspirations — the future. Not just my future, but the futures of my children.

We listened to my friend, in the nick of time. Three days remained before the deadline that would define my daughter’s life.

“That’s just 72 hours, you know,” my friend reminded me.

“I know,” I sighed.

Short story: we made the deadline, with one minute and a few inches of fax machine roller paper to spare. My daughter made the cut and was accepted at an elite school, with a full financial aid package. She pays less than $2,000 a year for a $60,000 education.

If you are in the market for college-journey inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. I can’t take you there, but I can share my family’s journey, maybe shed a little light on the path, and cheer you on as you find your way.