Consider All Expenses with a Scholarship

My plan for my sons first two years of college was to have him take classes locally and live at home.

He had other plans! (Surprise, surprise.)

I said, “Fine, but you are paying for it. You have to get scholarships to cover the dorm, meal plan, tuition and books.”

He auditioned for, and received, a $2000.00 Jazz Band Scholarship. I was thrilled! But he had to attend Jazz Band practices twice a week at the campus 25 miles away. He didn’t get a scholarship to cover the dorm and meals, so he had to commute.

We did the math and found he could cover the gas ($10.00 a day) and food (He felt he needed $8.00 a meal.) with the three shifts he was working at a grocery store.

The weekend before classes started he received an email from the head of the music department who noticed he was an “All State Choir Member”. He wanted him in his chorus. Unfortunately, chorus meets four times a week. He had to join chorus or lose the scholarship. That added another credit and another fee. That also meant he had to drive four times a week.

Then we found he had to take private drum lessons. That was another credit and another fee. Of course, all of these credits cost him!

So, based on his budget, the expenses relating to the $2000.00 scholarship are…

Jazz Band Tuition – $411.00

Chorus Tuition – $411.00

Private Drum Lessons – $411.00

Gas to drive to campus – $1560.00

Food for classes out-of-town – $1248.00

Gas to attend concerts – $150.00

Gas to attend basketball games where the Jazz Band plays – $140.00

Total $4331.00!

Expenses not covered by the scholarship $2331.00!

Notice I said it is costing him, not us. I have a gas budget for him and this is what he pays over and above that.

Now to make it even more interesting…he does not have any student loans.

None, zip, zilch.

He is also taking nine more credits, to qualify for the scholarship, that are covered by a grant. He is paying cash all the way.

Then, his working hours at the grocery store were reduced to two shifts a week. He got smart really quickly. He stopped eating out and started buying food at the grocery store.

And then we got a miracle.

One weekend, when his dad was in town with him, they stopped by his aunt and uncles house. They were close to our son because he worked with them at youth camp for several years.

His uncle said, “Hey, if your son needs a place to crash he is welcome to stay at our house.” (It is three miles from campus.)

They travel a lot and would feel better knowing someone was keeping an eye on the house. They have a basement apartment.

Now he is only driving back and forth once a week. He has a kitchen available to cook in and he gets to see his favorite great-aunt and uncle! I suggested he can earn his keep by offering to shovel snow, mow the lawn, rake leaves, etc.

The important thing to remember is – every scholarship has requirements. Be sure you are able to meet all of the requirements before accepting it.

The first term ended and, like most kids do, my son has already changed his Major from Criminal Justice to Music. He apparently made the right choice accepting this scholarship.

He completed the year with a zero balance and no student loan debt.

College Boy playing at a concert.

College Boy playing at a concert.


Last week my son brought over a form from the “Great Iowa Treasure Hunt.” Any money that is not claimed for a certain number of years is turned over to the Iowa Treasurer. They post a list of names of those who have money owed to them.

My son typed in my name as a joke and was surprised to find my name was on the list. It turns out, I had never collected the money from Upromise that I earned by turning in codes from McDonald’s gift certificates.

I had it on my list to do, but it was not a high priority because we did not eat out often. It was less than 20.00 and I was impressed that Upromise didn’t just keep it!

Form from the "Great Iowa Treasure Hunt."

Form from the “Great Iowa Treasure Hunt.”


I confess; I have never been to the opera. Susie introduced me to it many years ago, but at the time it was through an LP album. (Yes, I am old.) I didn’t think it was for me. Now if I were sitting by Richard Gere and having him explain the story to me, like he did in the movie “Pretty Woman”, that would be different.

When college boy told me he was singing in the choir with an opera singer, I was duly impressed, just not sure I wanted to give up my Sunday nap to attend. But, being the good mom, I went to hear them both.

Boy was I blown away!

When that man opened his mouth it was like pure joy coming over the microphone. I was amazed!

I actually knew most of the songs from high school concerts and my mother forcing us to watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights.

We had good seats because the couples behind us grew up in Centerville, IA (where Simon Estes was born) and had followed his career.  We were early and overheard part of his life story.  He has sung all over the world and for three Presidents.

Singing his praises may seem an unusual thing for me to do on this blog, but I wanted to impress on my readers the quality of artists who perform at community colleges. The concert was free and we were able to hear him speak the following night. The man was just as impressive as his voice.

They say, “It isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” After hearing Simon Estes sing, I decided I want to be the fat lady! Well…at least here at home. Check the calendar at your local college and you may become inspired, too!

College Boy with Simon Estes

College Boy with Simon Estes

Lessons from Lincoln – Schoolhouse

“The school was a crude cabin barely high enough for the teacher to stand up in. There were no windows; a log had been left out at each side, and the opening covered with greased paper to let in the light. The floor and seats were made of split logs.

Lincoln said, ‘…The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.’

When he came across a passage that appealed especially to him, he would chalk it down on a board if he had no paper. Finally, he made a crude scrapbook. In this he wrote all his favorites, using a buzzard’s quill for a pen and pokeberry juice for ink. He carried the scrapbook with him and studied it until he could repeat many long poems and speeches by heart.”

“The Unknown Lincoln” – By Dale Carnegie

We think we have it rough if we attend a community college and live at home!

Abraham Lincoln never stopped learning.

I intend to do the same.