Free School Near Abusive Parents vs. Expensive School Far Away

If you’re a veteran visitor to this site, you know I get a lot of “Choice 1 vs. Choice 2” emails, where the writer asks me which of two options I think is smarter. This one has a twist, though — there are abusive parents in the mix.

Because of that, even though he/she didn’t ask me to, I’m going to shield this person’s name and instead refer to him/her as “Lady GaGa” — not because Lady Gaga had abusive parents, or is also the subject of gender speculation — just because I figure if you’re going to use a pseudonym, you might as well have fun with it.

Lady Gaga writes:

I need your advice. So, I have two choices for college. One of these is a public university (the University of Arkansas’ Walton College of Business) and the other is a private university (Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management). The public school is a free ride. Syracuse will cost me about $30,000 in debt for all eight semesters.

See ya later, Mom and Dad.

Arkansas has a massive early lead here.

I’ve did my research and I know that both schools are pretty good. I know that graduating from the U of A would virtually guarantee me a job in Arkansas. However, I don’t really want to work in Arkansas.

It’s natural that a degree from Arkansas would me most meaningful to employers in Arkansas; that’s true of every state. But if it’s a good school (I’m taking your word for it, I’m not personally familiar with either program), it’ll get you jobs in other states, too.

Not saying that it’s a bad state or anything, I’ve just lived here forever.

I hear ya. You wanna get out, see the world, make your way. Go for it.

Also since I plan on going to grad school (this will definitely not be in Arkansas no matter what), I worry that a degree from U of A will make me less competitive when it comes to getting accepted.

I’m not sure what your specific plans and reasoning are regarding grad school — I assume you’re probably thinking along the lines of an MBA. Regardless of where you go to school, if you excel at Arkansas, you’re not going to have trouble getting into an MBA program, so don’t worry about that.

I really want to work in the finance industry, so money won’t really be an issue after college

Money’s always more of an issue than you think it’s going to be, Lady Gaga. Don’t get me wrong, I hope you become a successful trader who makes six-figure bonuses every quarter, and if that happens, feel free to come back and rub it in my face — I’ll take it like a man, I promise. But, you know, even then, it takes time to get to that point — instant riches at your first job are pretty rare unless you play professional sports.

(assuming that I continue that career path).

Another good thing to point out — the possiblity that you’ll change your mind about finance. Which, if you’re like all other students, is a strong possibility. (See myย Everyone’s On Plan C post if you haven’t already).

I also know that Syracuse, which is in upstate New York, has a 90% job placement rate.

That’s impressive and good, but find out what Arkansas’s placement rate is and compare them while also considering the cost. For instance, if Arkansas places 85% of graduates and Arkansas is free for you, then that’s still a wiser financial move than taking $30,000 in loans for Syracuse’s slightly higher placement rate.

My story has three more twists though.

Bring it.

1. Syracuse has a $850 deposit. I am dirt poor. In order to pay the deposit, I’ll probably have to take out another loan. Also my current loans don’t include my books or travel fees.

An even stronger case for Arkansas. If you’re really dirt poor (and I believe you), then don’t turn down free schooling. Offers like that don’t come along many times in life. Actually, never. Unless you join the military, no institution will ever again offer you something valued at, oh, $60,000, for absolutely free. (Correct me if I’m wrong, peanut gallery.)

2. While Syracuse is currently my top choice, it was not my dream school. It wasn’t even close. So a big motivator to taking on a lot of debt is to get out away from my parents who were abusive. It has been confirmed by several anthropologist/sociologists that I will need severe counseling for many years.

Well, that’s a very personal issue that I only sort of gently guide you in, because I don’t know how bad things were, how far away your parents would be from you at Arkansas, and more importantly, how effectively you could break away from them if you stayed there in Arkansas.

If your abuse was bad enough that you think you’ll never be able escape your parents’ grip while you’re at the University of Arkansas, then yes, I think that’d be a strong argument for going to Syracuse. $30,000 ย of debt spread over 10 years of payments may be a very small price to pay to escape a living hell. But if you feel like you could go to Arkansas and still break your folks’ grip, then by all means, do it. Being in debt makes people do a lot of things they don’t want to do; independence is a cure for that.

3. I am on the waitlist for Williams College. If I get accepted into their school, it will be a full ride. Because I don’t find out whether I’m in until way after the universal reply date (May 1st), I have to accept some school.

My question is should I pay the deposit for Syracuse or take the cheap route and enroll in UofA? Although getting money for living expenses in New York will be difficult, I have been poor all my life so it won’t be a big change.

Well, I’ve made it pretty clear that my vote is, as usual, for the free ride at a public school — though this time it’s with a built-in exception if your parental situation is something you can’t shake free of if you stay in Arkansas. Free education is rare. Take it if you can get it.

What about you all — what do you think Lady Gaga should do? Let us know in the comments below!

42 thoughts on “Free School Near Abusive Parents vs. Expensive School Far Away”

  1. There is always a third possibility of Starting at U of A and finishing ay Syracuse. I spent muy first two years at a less ecpensive school before I went on.It saved me enough money to have a savings before I started there. Also can you live in the dorms at U of A thereby not having to worry about parents and then y ou may find some classmates who want to share an apratment.

  2. Lady Gaga,

    I was in a similar situation to yours (not sure to the extent of the abuse), but I wanted to get as far away from my family as possible. I too was very poor and did not have the money to move out of state or pay expensive tuition. I instead went to a state college that was an hour away from home with cheaper tuition (not free! That is great that you would have free tuition). I was able to be far enough away from them to cut all ties and live on my own! It was very difficult, I had to work multiple jobs and I also did the dependent override like others have said, but it was worth it to finally be free!

    My advice is to take the free ride! It will be worth it to not have the large amount of debt in the end. Like someone else said… you would hate to have to fall back on your parents if you could not handle the debt later.



  3. Wow, might as well be a parallel universe out there…. I suffered the same thing. I had options to go to several schools, some more expensive than others, suffered the abusive parental units, and am STILL working on therapy. My two cents is as follow:

    1. If you insist on going to school right now, run as far away as you can go and still pay in-state tuition. I don’t know how many colleges are in Arkansas, or how close the college is for you. I ran to the opposite end of California (N from S).

    2. Facts are, if you are abused, you probably aren’t going to be able to handle counseling and school. I couldn’t hack it. I don’t know anyone who suffered similar to what I did who did hack school. The fear and trauma is overwhelming, and breakdowns are common.

    3. I recommend two things. Take a year off, get a basic job somewhere you feel safe, and start/finish your counseling. Maybe you should try getting yourself emancipated. If that’s not an option, living in another state quietly will give you the residency you need to apply to other schools, AND you have the option of local community colleges to lower your cost burden as well. I don’t know why so many people think they need to immediately go to a four year university.

    4. Breathe. Making decisions in fear and uncertainty are never wise.

  4. Lady Gaga,

    I think that you should go to Syracuse. $30,000 in students loans is not as hard to manage as everyone makes it sound. Student loan payments are small and often give you a grace period to pay them back after you graduate, especially if you attend graduate school. If your parent’s are abusive, distance is the first and simplest answer. Also, always remember that you can change schools. If the financial situation starts to squeeze you too far, go to a community college after the first semester or year, but get a job so you can still live in NY, away from your parents.

    I go to school 6,000 miles away from my hometown because I wasn’t willing to stay in the small town I’d lived my entire life another minute, let alone two years of community college (and my parent’s are not abusive!). I took out loans to pay for school, and just focused on paying them as soon as I got out, before I took out a loan for a car or house, and I was fine. Just be smart about the loan you get and the money you have, pick a place you love, and never settle because of money. It is not important enough.

  5. Lady Gaga, if the college with a free ride has a good program. Go for it. You live your life. Nobody is forcing you to be around your parents and sounds like ignoring them is the best thing you can do for yourself. They already cost you pain why let them get to you that they are still causing you pain. A fiduciary pain.
    I have sympathy for you. My mother was abusive to us 4 both mentally and physically. When I was younger I thought that I would carry the scars forever. But as I grew I kept telling myself that who was telling me I had to even be around her. No one. When I let go it was like a free fall. My three sisters followed suit. I did not look back. I was done raising my mother and odviously it wasn’t working anyway.
    Its been 3 years now. We live in the same small town but I don’t live her lifestyle and we have not even run into eachother at all.. You can do it!

  6. If you like both schools equally, and the only thing stopping you from going to Arkansas is that your parents will be close by, I think you should make a decision to go to the school in Arkansas but move out and live in the dorms. You could even get a P.O. box to have all your mail sent to instead of your parents’ house, so they don’t need to be involved at all.
    As far as getting into a good grad school, you probably won’t have much of a problem as long as you do a great job as an undergrad. The grad schools will hopefully see how awesome you are and not judge you on the school you went to.

  7. I would like to second the override. Any school that has a FAFSA code has something which is called “Professional judgement.” If your abuse is as you say, that is to say, documented, any school will emancipate you based on your income. Call up Syracuse’s financial aid office, explain, say you have a competing offer, and I’m sure they will work with you (particularly since free ride is the competing offer). Also, they may wave or lower the deposit, considering everything.

    Good luck!

  8. Dear Lady Gaga, I think you should go to the University of Arkansas, but stay on campus, don’t tell your parents where you are going to college though. Change the address of where your mail gets sent to, use the school’s address. To pay for your stay on campus get work study, if your as poor as you say you are then they should have offered you work study. As for therapy, since its a state school, there should be counselors on staff. But if your someone like me who needs therapy and medication, then apply for medicaid or low payment insurance. Trust me when I say that you will overcome and you will be the most successful person ever. Keep your head up.

  9. So far, i agree with katie29lvh; you don’t have to go to school right off, there will be time when you are in a better situation, both physically and emotionally. You don’t need to wrack yourself up with debt right off, especially if you’ll have to ask abusive parents for money to help when it becomes too much later. If you really want to go to school right off, and you think that you can effectively cut your ties with your family while you’re in Arkansas, then go for it; otherwise, get the stress of counselling done with first, before you take on the stress of university.

  10. First things first, not only should she make sure she filled out the FAFSA, she should try for a dependency override. My family is broke and someone still had an EFC of $2000.

    My parents are also abusive, and I sent out a dependency override request. It was accepted, and my EFC is now $0. Sadly, for a lot of need based scholarships, they will ask for tax forms, not the SAR. If they saw my SAR, the committees would realize I was declared independent and my parents income shouldn’t come into the equation.

  11. Lady Gaga,

    I’m sorry to hear that things are tough in your personal life and that you’re not getting the type of support you deserve from your parents. I have to say that I’m inclined to agree with John, in that $30,000 of debt will weigh you down more than you realize now. Assuming that the curriculum and extracurricular opportunities are more or less equal at both schools, I think you should enroll in U of A and take advantage of the free tuition. Furthermore, you don’t have to live at home, just because you’re going to school in your hometown. Live in residence or rent an apartment by yourself or with a roommate. Maybe that will give you the space you need away from your family and the independence you are looking for.

    If you really want to get out of Arkansas after you finish school, you will. It’ll just take more work and perseverance on your part. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. stay for the school, move out and cut communication with the family. and get a good therapist. unless you can work while you’re in school and pay for the other option. but your health and well being come before school. you first

  13. another lady gaga

    Lady Gaga,

    I’m in a similar situation. I would actually have to say taking the first step out will help tremendously, but only if you think you can get out for a job or grad school. Otherwise, take on the debt because you can’t stay in an abusive relationship forever. I hope you get out somewhere, but make sure it’s a guarantee for out. You never know: You’re debt might be so burdensome, you’ll have to go back home to your parents afterwards. Take the option that will guarantee you a ticket to freedom.


    Another Lady Gaga

  14. amyyzingdreams

    Why not go to the University of Arkansas and live in a dorm? That way you can still stay away from your parents.

  15. Something you might want to look into are scholarship listing websites like and A lot of the scholarships listed ask for essays that ask you to descibe bad situations in your life that you have overcome and how you did it. Sounds like you would certainly qualify for some of these, especially if the rest of your information such as grades, test scores, work, extracurriculars, volunteering, etc., are good.Most of these range anywhere form $500 up to $2000 or mayvbe more. Best of luck!

  16. You’re an adult now. Tell your parents not to contact you, if they do, tell the police. It’s harassment.

  17. I’m with the judge on this one, with a couple of caveats:
    Don’t go to U of A if it will require you to live with your abusers. Period. No amount of money is worth living like that. .
    If you can go to U of A and not be abused, that’s a great option. Grad school won’t be difficult to get into if you get good grades, get on a research project or two, and do well on the GRE/GMAT. I go to a state school that people think is pretty rough, but I haven’t seen anyone being denied admission to good grad schools because of the school’s reputation.
    If Williams comes through down the road, and it really is a full ride, you can change your mind and go there instead .
    If the only sure way for you to get out is to NOT go to U of A, then go with the Syracuse option. Again, you can change your mind later (yes, you’ll be out $850. But you’ll still be free) if Williams comes through. Or you can even transfer somewhere else, sometime down the road.
    I’d go with a microloan website for the $850. You can pay it back with better terms and a pretty low interest rate.
    Whatever it takes to get away, please do it. Know you are worth just as much as anyone in this world. There are people out there who can and will help. I would give you the money myself if I had it. Get to a good safe place and build a life for yourself, and if you have to go into debt to do it, it’ll be some of the smartest money you ever spent.

  18. I agree with the first response. I was in the exact same situation. The abuse started from my mother then ended with my stepfather when she remarried in my senior year of high school. it can be done. i went to the school that I had to take loans, but didnt pay out of pocket because of my income being so low, my story is a bit more complex, but i’ll spare the details. anywho, my dream was to attend school in california, which is on the opposite side of the continent of my home state, florida. so i understand the big move. i stuck it out for the recommended 2 years before transferring, and now i’m attending school in california. you really have to do your research first. i entered a school which i will transfer out of, but stay in the state, because it does not offer me exactly what i need, yet helped me in another way. you can technically transfer out after you have completed a year in your home state. the main thing is to do your research, see what classes transfer, and only take the ones that will apply to your new school towards general education requirements and major requirements. it seems you may have to do this secretly, my excuse was looking for jobs while using another window to do my school searches (they were not very computer savy). there’s a lot of things i can give you advice on for this, sigh*, you have no idea. but anyway, i transferred from a catholic school and made sure not to waste my time on catholic geared classes that would not help me when i transferred. i knew i was going public all the way. but sometimes to get where you need to be, you have to suffer a little bit, bite your tongue and just keep your spirits up. I would definitely be able to speak to you in regards to help, or picker uppers if you would like.

  19. Hey I kind ahad same situation i was emancipated from foster youth system and got in to Sac state to go there woul dhave been free but it is in same city as my parents obviusly since i was plkaced in foster care situation wasntr gd. so insead i opted for a private university which is 12 hours away from my home town. I dont regret the decesion and being so far aforded me some peace hopes this helps

  20. Similar situation here. I fled to a university 14 hours away & regret not taking the cheaper, in-state tuition closer to home. (Definitely not living at home, just close enough for in-state.) $30,000 might not seem like a lot, but if you are planning for grad school, save your money. Also, even with free tuition, there are a lot of incidental expenses associated with college – books, room, board, etc. – take the money. If you don’t give them the information to contact you, I bet you’ll be surprised how easy it is to avoid your family while in college.

  21. Sounds like you needed your questions answered by May 1, but here goes. By full ride at U of A, does that mean dorm expenses too? If not, I would look into the advice of Emily and Sam and see what kind of financial aid you can get so you can have a place to live and eat. You can still live in the same city as your parents and not have any or limited contact with them. Follow the advise of Kiwi, too. Play the odds. Can you accept at U of A and then if Williams comes thru, make the switch? Ask your high school guidance counselor about doing this. Losing $850 is alot of money, whether or not you are “dirt poor”. I would try and make the best of a FREE education. You’ve made it this far, and believe it or not, 4 years will go by very fast. If you are looking ahead to grad school, that might be the time to “get out of Dodge”.
    Regarding getting therapy, I wish you all the best. You will have to find somebody you are comfortable with and just because you go to a state school doesn’t necessarily mean therapy will be free or worthwhile. You may only get a certain number of visits at the campus health center before you have to start paying out of pocket. Whether you can afford to pay for student health insurance, or if you can stay on your parents health plan(you probably don’t want to do this), you will probably have to come up with a co-pay per office visit. Can you come up with $20 or $30/visit? You should get into a support group, if you’re not already. Maybe they could help guide you in the right direction for getting free counseling.
    I wish you all the best.

  22. I would say that if you decide to attend the closer school perhaps you could talk to the disability worker there so they can arrange to keep your attendance at that institution private from these abusive parents. They can do a lot for you, especially in the providing funding for therapy section, learning strategies for your cognitive troubles, etc. You could try one year at the free school and see how that works out. But then again if you’re looking towards your future, perhaps the better university would be your best choice, they’ll have a disability center as well.

  23. I agree with Josh. If you are able to attend the UofA without your parents being around, then by all means go to UofA. Perhaps living on dorms or renting a place with a friend is an option, so that you are not living with your parents. You would have to look for a living space if you went to New York anyways.
    However, if you are not able to get away from your parents while going to UofA, then plan to go to Syracuse. Trust me when I tell you that your living environment affects your school work. Especially when it comes to post-secondary school, if you do not have a peaceful environment in which you are able to relax, have a good time, and study, then it throws off everything.

  24. away from rents. A clean slate, a new start…significant negative influences removed from your life. and as Teresa mentioned, better chance at succeeding with you work. make careful, good choices in friends, and who knows what can happen..stay with them the summer. priceless.

  25. Regardless of school prices, Gaga should get as far away from her/his abusive parents
    ASAP. This toxic dynamic will cost you much more than tuition in the long run. Therapy is not cheap, and if one needs therapy “It has been confirmed by several anthropologist/sociologists that I will need severe counseling for many years” it is very expensive. If one is living in a toxic household, college homework could be extremely difficult. Syracuse sounds like a good idea. Remember the old adage ” you can pay now, or you can pay later. The later cost will be more expensive, but it sounds like Gaga needs to get away from the toxic cesspool and learn to be independent.

  26. Words of wisdom from the old coot who has been there/done that.

    My family was also a “joy” to deal with when I was looking to enter college. Be grateful that you parents willingly provided financial info and data for the FAFSA. In 1984 I applied to most Ivy League schools and was accepted into every last one with partial scholarships. Without the financial aid, and being broke, I used what money I had for community college and that was another nightmare.

    How far away are the abusive parents? Are they a few hours away or like me, across town. Do you have the inner strength not to answer the phone and allow them to start with abusive talk. This can really sabatoge your GPA in ways unimagineable.

    My mom would show up on campus making a big scene, and badmouthing me to anyone who would listen. With the embarassment, and the drama, it underminded my self esteem and my “can do” attitude. The constant family abuse took it’s toll and was evident in my grades. Realize I am 44 years old, have an accomplished career, and my parents still say the same abusive things. They recently gave me a surprise visit and was angry to find textbooks in my place, claiming I was too “stupid” to actually earn a degree at my age… as if 44 is one foot in the grave or something. Even though after a lifetime of disassociating myself with abusive family (physical & emotional), their rejection still stings but has much less of an impact now than when I was vunerable and just starting out.

    If it was only financial – I would say U of A is the way to go. If you can successfuly separate yourself from the abusive situation with your family, I still think a year at U of A may be a good idea until you can get more money together to transfer out of state.

    If your family is too close, and really a horror story as it sounds… it may be best to rack up the debt for the higher grades.

    Having spent 15 years in the financial industry, they are typically underpaid unless your working in sales and cutting deals. (Sales includes the brokerage floor). Most of the jobs start with a forgiveable draw for 2 years. What this means is you will get a salary of $50-$60k for years to applied against earned commissions. The principal is that this gives you a steady income while you build a book of business. If you don’t reach the sales goals, your out the door.

    To build a book of business that generates that type of income, you have to be able to network, meet people, identify their needs. 99% of your prospects will reject the product/service your selling. Given your background with an abusive family, this rejection may be too much to handle. I overcame the fear rejection and made a bundle in DIrect Marketing, but it took nearly 20 years to find that thick skin. You may want to talk to people in sales and get some advice on how to get your feet wet to overcome the damage from the abusive past.

    If your looking at non-sales banking jobs, your sadly mistaken about the salary earned. Banks are notorious for underpaying non-sales staff. We are talking 25% – 35% less than other industries. As a VP of Trade Show Logistics I was earning $42K base plus bonuses. The bonuses were really payment for overtime where I worked 50-60 hours a week and giving up many weekends for that additional $10K. The taxes on that bonus hardly made in worthwhile. When I left the financial industry using this skills in another line of business… Salary is closing in on $80K, and on the RARE occasion I work overtime, I get it back as Comp Time leaving early to catch up on studies.

    So the MORAL – tread carefully as you plan for school. You don’t want to go into a financial pit and you want to have a realistic expectation on what you can earn when you graduate. On the other hand on you know what you can handle insofar as your abusive family. You can not let them sabatoge and interfere with your studies.

  27. You will discover that whether 5 blocks away or 5 countries away, distancing yourself from your parents will be as successful as you allow. From across the world, my mother will make me break down, in a 5 minute quasi-conversation, just like I can avoid her easily when she lives down the street. If you live on campus in a dorm then there’s security. If the abuse is like that of what Jen had to deal with, then there are Domestic Violence protection orders and courthouse advocates who can help you with these things. Get to know what your rights are and what your entitlement to living sans harassment means. It may sound harsh but extreme measures can be necessary when you have really sick people in your life.
    It’s about how much you allow them to draw you in. You choose to interact as much or as little as you want. This will stem to be true with all relationships you form.
    If your parents provide any financial assistance then there’s something you want to be cautious of. The unconscious have a way of using money to dictate, thinking they’ve bought decision making rights to your future.
    If it’s independence you seek, then be prepared to be completely independent. No matter what you choose to do, remember that your drive to achieve is what takes you further. You are a strong individual-asking for help is the first sign. Disengaging from abusers is a personal choice that neither money nor residence overpower.
    Making excuses about continued interaction is simply detrimental. Prolonged abuse wears harder than most people understand. Massive financial debt is also crippling and if loans default, will affect your employability considerably. My advise is this: Instead of taking into consideration the impact of avoiding your family, consider the impact of allowing them to deter your success with studies. Move away from home- distance really doesn’t matter (you know that old saying, running from yourself?) and keep a back up plan for the most economically sound choice in school, just in case. If that means borrowing another thou, then borrow it. If you get in on the free ride anyway, then fantastic. You can’t consider the 850 wasted- Think of it as a small price to pay-a fraction of what might’ve been owed.

  28. Not alot of people get free rides to college. Take the free ride because you’re gonna end up with alot more debt going to grad school. You said your parents “were” abusive. Have they calmed down? Do they even talk to you? Do you guys even have a relationship? If they have calmed down and no longer abusing you, because they can still be mentally abusive, you should stick it out as much as you could at home. I take it that you really can’t afford to live on your own but you can always make preparations. Since you’re on a scholarship, they expect you to keep your grades up, so, I’m not sure if working would be a great idea if you have to do it to pay for rent, utilities, and etc. It’s really tough out there, even for a single person. You’ve been living with your parents this far and, depending on your situation, I believe you can stick it out a little longer. Work your butt off, study hard, excel, stay away from home as long as you can studying in the library or a coffee shop, do whatever you have to but always stay encouraged. Think positively. Look at what you’ll be at the end…much better than them.

  29. full ride scholarships

    How to Get a Full Scholarship Nowadays, a lot of people have the short term goal of attending college, but a lot of people donโ€™t know where to get the money to pay for the institution of their choice.

  30. I have crappy family members too, and I’m already in therapy because of them. I moved in with my aunt while I’m applying to colleges because I don’t want to break under unnecessary stress. Getting far away from your parents might be costly, but your mental state will be better in the long run. Think of the stress you will be under because of school work. Do you really need to deal with your family on top of that? 2 of my college picks are George Mason University (which is way in the woods of Vienna Virginia), and Boston University ( which is far, far away from DC).

  31. Get away from your parents! Even minus the abusive part, college is about being independent. It’s harder to separate yourself when your parents are close. The abuse only makes the separation that much more necessary. Also, if you’re that poor, I don’t see why you can’t get major government aid.

  32. I think you should go for free. Granted you can pay off $30,000 over time but if you want to go to grad school thats another several (more than several definitely) thousand you need to worry about. Go to U of A and ignore them. Your an adult now. Good Luck

  33. Honestly, it all really depends on what you feel lead to do. If I had abusive parents I probably wouldn’t want to be near them either. But at the same time I wouldn’t let them jeopardize my future. Going to college for free is a huge opportunity. Syracuse is a really good school, but you have to pay to go there. Just make the decision that is best for you, but don’t just think on the present, think about how this will affect you in YOUR future, as well.

  34. Choose U of Ark or the school that hasn’t gotten back to you yet. Don’t give yourself more of a headache with large loan debt.

  35. Been There Done That

    Hi there,

    Sorry that you are in this situation. Your abusive family shouldn’t have to cost you $30,000 in debt. I was just faced with a similar choice and ended up going to a more expensive college overseas, versus doing their part-time, distance program at half the cost, or even another distance program that would have accepted all of the credit I already had, at 1/4 the cost. The key difference is that the overseas college has my dream program, and I had all of that other credit because I was already doing a dirt-cheap, distance degree in a subject I didn’t want to, just because I was too scared to leave the abusive situation I was in to go full time.

    I finally did. I was lucky to have money set aside for college, that cushioned my immediate financial free fall. In the few months before college started, I went to therapy, while staying with other people I knew, who generously offered to put me up to save on the cost of an apartment for a few months. Guess what, the new place wasn’t much better for me, for many reasons which I feel it wouldn’t be fair for me to go into as their guest. To top it off, my hosts, whom I told about my college plans, became very motivated by fear of me spending the rest of my savings on college (which I saved up for college!), and all I got on the topic were negative comments. When I got called a fool for changing majors, I put that in my application essay! I even was warned that going further in my new subject (English…which I already had years of volunteer work experience in and had just immediately gotten hired in as a temp job) would not get me a stable or well paying job in the long run, and this was by someone who had a stable, well-paying job in the same field! They are still sending me, by email, disaster tales of people who had to take out student loans, and I haven’t even taken mine out yet.

    My point is, now that I am finally in a stable household of my own, I can see the difference in just a week to my emotional health, of waking up every morning to peaceful silence instead of arguing voices, and can tell you that saving money by staying in an abusive situation is NOT WORTH IT. It is NOT. YOU are worth much, much more than getting stuck in a trap of financially based abuse like happens to so many.

    Everyone is different but in my case, I realized that the worst case, having to go to a shelter, would still be better than my situation. Emotionally, it was terrifying for me to get out at first but it’s getting easier every day. My college has a satellite campus and everyone assumes I’m going to the main one and living there — when some begged to see my new place on Google Maps I just said no. Because after leaving my original home I had received hate mail, been stalked and had my bank statements opened, I have now set up a new email account, bank account, and a PO Box with an address in a different city from where I’m living, and get my mail forwarded.

    I guess you have made your decision by now and I know you will do what you need to. Stay strong and good luck.

  36. Being around abusive parents is extremely difficult but so is incurring large amounts of debt. My parents aren’t abusive in the least but choosing the more expensive school over the cheaper school in order to get away was a nice breather. I mean that wasn’t the only reason, I love the school more then I expected, but getting away from my parents was exactly what I needed. I would suggest saying yes to Syracuse and there was a third choice correct? If you get into that third choice school then you can always change your mind and dissenroll from Syracuse. You won’t get your deposit back, but 850 as compared to 30,000 in debt is a huge difference.

  37. I have an alternative for you, actually.

    I speak from personal experience when I say that abusive parents are no cake-walk and will definitely mess with you for the rest of your life… whether you talk to them at all or not.

    Anyway… my alternative for you…

    A short drive straight north up to Kansas City (probably 5 to 8 hours, depending on where you are..) will land you in an area with extremely reasonable cost of education with a great curriculum at a SUPER rate. You like finance? Even better… Kansas University (KU, super duper basketball champs!) has a program partnered with Johnson County Community College where you start at JCCC and finish at KU’s Edwards Campus School of Business right down the street from JCCC (I believe they have a finance program… and it costs closer to JCCC’s rate [I think it’s about 900 per semester, full load and grants and scholarships have paid for that plus all books and living expenses for me…], instead of KU’s, even when you finish there…)

    There is EXTREMELY affordable housing in Olathe, KS (look around the south-side of Olathe) within 10 or 15 minutes of campus, a great area with lots going on and far enough from your parents they can’t get to you. You don’t have to run across the continent to escape, head a bit north (Olathe/Overland KS to Johnson County Community College) and start with the community college (even out of state tuition isn’t crazy here) and then finish at Edwards Campus. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have gone to JCCC for both my AA and personal enrichment (it’s cheap enough to!) and I will forever miss it there.

    Oh. And there are lots of need-based and merit-based scholarships (remember to fill out the General Scholarship Application online as soon as you are registered) and grants…

    I know everything will get better for you. Don’t make hasty decisions that will put you ridiculously far in debt. Please consider my solution (I know it’s not really your plan A, but I -know- JCCC is an amazing community college from really cheap and even if you don’t go on to a Kansas university, it will give you time to think… and an AA from JCCC transfers pretty much anywhere)

    Hoping you’ll consider,

    Mandi ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. I am amazed so many people experience abuse from their families!

    And, it’s a good thing you have access to counseling; I was my counselor.

    I spent the first 15 years of my life in such a family, and the next 15 years doing self-counseling. I have been living on my own since I was 15. That was the best decision I have made. Up until six years ago, my family would turn up in my home and taunt me, including blaming Islam for my not being in school (I converted to Islam at 16). I am now far away from them, and have not directly informed them of my whereabouts. They still have access to my phone. My mum used to say nasty things over the phone, until it became clear I had gone AWOL. Now, every one understands I mean business. She still tries to get me to visit. I, simply, tell her my studies won’t let me. Ironically, Islam, which she loves to hate, prevents me from severing total links with her.

    I dropped out of school at 16, and over the following years I bought cheap mathematics and chemistry school text books, and borrowed other books from friends. Some of the books I bought were outdated. I spent my nights awake studying them. My pride is in the Certificate with an A in mathematics, a B in biology, chemistry and English language and a C in physics, further mathematics and economics. I have an Associate Degree and two years of university credits.

    My dear Lady Gaga, it is your life. Do not let any one ruin it. It is better you stay in Arkansas, but KEEP AWAY from your parents.

  39. Distance. I ran. I will probably end up paying a small house in debt by the time i get my degree, and even though I ended up transferring, getting the hell out of Dodge is more important than all else. I agree with the earlier post that getting the counseling should come first and foremost, without taking care of yourself school grows to hard to handle. But unless you are having severe PTSD episodes I would not suggest putting off your education as healing is a long process. Putting off the rest of your life even more because of the abuse is punishing yourself and letting them win.

    It takes an incredibly strong individual to cope with abuse and still succeed at life. If you have earned a free ride, I have no doubt you are such an individual. Best of luck, and GO FOR THE EMANCIPATION!!! I can not stress that enough. FAFSA will recognize you as an independent adult, opening up lots of grants. If I could go back that would be the one thing I would do differently about my schooling. If you have documentation of the abuse you might be in the clear, but I know having a lack of documentation and no emancipation has bolted shut doors that should have been opened.

  40. Dear Lady Gaga,
    Go to Arkansas. Just avoid your parents. Find a job so you can get your own apartment. This way, you won’t have to endure your abusive parents and you won’t have the burden of student loans when you graduate.

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