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Going Back to School: the Reality Check

I'm interested in learning more about Lori's desire to go back to school – the program itself as well as practical aspects like how long it takes to complete it, the opportunity for work-study or interning that might lead directly to full time employment, and the marketability of her degree. I'm concerned about the expense. We should explore every opportunity for grants and loans -- information we can get the school's student loan office -- but Lori may also want to talk to an expert in student financial aid, particularly for graduate degree programs.

I like the idea of Lori going back to school, but I hope it was not primarily a reaction to not getting the job offer. Lori's main challenge is not getting her expenses under control -- she is already doing good work in that area. Lori’s challenge is income. She needs more cash flow. Lori and I are still just getting to know each other and I don't want to be a wet blanket or come across as negative. It is, however, my responsibility to be the reality check on this idea. So when Lori arrived for our second meeting, that is where we started.

It quickly became clear that returning to school was not something that had just popped into her mind. She had been thinking about this for some time, was excited and motivated to make this happen, and she had done a lot of research.

Because the program has a rolling admissions policy, I suggested she set her own deadline for submitting her application, which she did: the end of October. Now, applying for school would not become an impediment to looking for other full time work with passion and drive. Excellent.

Financial aid was next on our list. Lori plans to discuss grant / loan / work-study options with the financial aid office. She has no money to pay for school, so other than acceptance into the program, the cost and how to pay for it will determine if she can do this. While she would probably be a full-time student, we don't yet know how much time that leaves for her to have a job, and I didn't pursue that topic at this point. I hope the school can provide some work-study alternatives.

I guess we really needed to better understand her options before beginning a more detailed financial analysis. There are too many unknowns and not enough income to make any progress toward achieving Lori’s ultimate goal of living in her own place. So, we'll wait for the school's admission and financial aid decisions, and then we can work on creating a short term plan that gets her through to graduation or to a full time job. (I'm guessing we'll be working on the graduation plan!)

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