How can financially-struggling students pursue a college education?
A lot of college professors have certainly experienced this scene at some point during their teaching career: a crestfallen student saying that he or she will be dropping out of the class midway through the semester because of financial problems. While most students are fortunate enough to be from families who can support their college education through and through, a lot of them have to sustain themselves.
Since the government doesn’t have in place a student loan system and because most schools require students to settle all their dues before the semester ends, it’s really tough for Filipino youth from financially struggling families. While some of them will go on to spend their days outside school doing nothing at home, others will go on to seek all sorts of jobs to try to save money and return to school in the soonest possible time.
What steps can financially-struggling students do to keep their dream of securing a college degree within reach?
First is to save whatever money that comes their way. The savings can be from the weekly or monthly allowances they get from their parents or cash gifts from their other relatives and godparents. Every centavo counts, so whatever money that can be set aside should be saved.
Whether you’re from a rich, middle-class, or a poor family, frugality must be observed at all times. If you really value money, then every spending must be justified. For example, is it necessary to choose Starbucks when meeting someone? Or, do you really need to have IPhone 6 when your current android phone is still functional?
A lot of times, people justify their choices based on what they think can make them appear more admirable to others – never mind its effect on their limited budget. What’s worse is that the total cost of financial misjudgments can snowball through the years. A viral Facebook post from two years ago sums up the point pretty well (see it after the next paragraph).
For those who are already above 18, having a job is an attractive option for the time-being. Some work as call center agents, while others become service crews for fast food chains. Some managers provide work shifts that can be adjusted based on an employee’s schedule in school although they are an exception rather than the rule.
Thanks to the Internet, it is already possible to have a good-paying part-time job without working in an office eight hours a day. These can include tasks like data encoding and transcribing as well as editing, graphic designing, among others. There are lots of legitimate income opportunities that can be discovered online if only someone is willing to scour the web. Who knows, apart from earning the money they need to stay or go back to school, working temporarily may even allow these financially challenged kids the opportunity to help their respective families.
The last option available is for them or their parents to secure an educational loan. For example, the Government Service Insurance System, the Social Security System, and Philippine Home Development Mutual Fund (popularly known as PAG-IBIG Fund) allow their members to seek loans for their beneficiaries.
For their part, students can try to apply for a scholarship from the Commission on Higher Education or from elected officials as well as non-government organization. At present, there are efforts from some lawmakers to propose a bill that will mandate the government to institutionalize a far-reaching student loan program. It is hoped that this will gain traction in the near future.
In the meantime, with very little chance of getting help from others, financially-struggling students should keep in mind that nothing beats self-reliance. Enough with YOLO (“You only live once!”), and it’s time for YOYO (“You’re on your own!”).