Hey everyone! I just wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a little background on how financial aid has helped me. My name is Lara and I’m currently a senior here at UWL getting ready to enter into my last semester of college this fall which feels both exciting and a little scary. I was raised by a single mother, who happens to be an accountant, in a small town, which helped to teach me just how far hard work and determination could get a person. It also helped to teach me what to do when money is tight and how to determine the true importance of something. One of my mother’s favorite things to ask me when we were out shopping was “Do you need that or do you want it?” I used to get frustrated whenever I really wanted something and she asked me this but now I find myself asking that each time I go shopping and it’s really helped me to stay on a budget.
My mother encouraged me to apply for as many scholarships as I could during my last year of high school and the first two years that I was in college. I wish now that I had listened to that advice a little more. The first college I went to was Roosevelt University in Schaumburg, Illinois. It wasn’t the most affordable choice because it was out of state and private but I chose it anyway because that’s where my grandfather had gone and I thought that would make the experience mean more. Each semester that I was there I ended up taking out every loan that I possibly could because the scholarships I had received didn’t even come close to covering the tuition. I finally got tired of putting myself more and more in debt and applied to my first choice of colleges.
I’d fallen in love with UWL when I was still in elementary school and came here for one of those kids in college days. It’s not the biggest or the fanciest college out there but it’s the only one I’d choose to finish up my degree. During my three years here I’ve worked part time in retail while going to school full time. Then, for a couple months last fall, I ended up going to school and working full time. I would not recommend this to anyone. Now, I still work part time in retail, go to school full time, and as of the end of January I started interning with the Financial Aid Office. It’s taken a little time to get used to this new schedule, or routine if you will, but I know that it’s worth it because I’m helping to build a better future for myself and can start to pay off my debt while also paying my bills. It also helps that the people who work in the financial aid department always strive to go above and beyond to help students with any financial aid questions or troubles that they might have. I know they’ve certainly helped me more times than I can count and I’m glad that I’m able to spend my last year here as part of this team.