There’s an ad running on the local news radio station that is so perfectly in synch with our lives right now, I smile every time I hear it.
The college visits are over.
The late-night arguing about applications, done.
“YES!” finally arrived in the mail.
And now the logo on a sweatshirt appears at the top of the bill.
(It’s an ad for MEFA, a state-run program for college savings and financing plans, and the ad goes on to discuss student loan options.)
The final line in the quote came true for us today, with the first tuition bill. It’s a mind-bogglingly large number, and yet what’s even more impressive is that M’s merit scholarships knock off 40% of it. And he got a one-time merit scholarship through his high school that will cover another 12% for this first semester.
I started saving for college when M was 6; all the money that used to go to daycare went into the savings account. I remember how much penny-pinching was involved, to do that as a single mom, fairly early in my career. For example, our weekly grocery budget was $30. We were regulars at the monthly free evening at the local children’s museum — never mind that it was a Friday evening and I was tired from work; I wanted M to have as many enriching experiences as he could.
I’m married now, and my wife and I each have well-paid jobs. We live more comfortably than M and I used to, but still way below our means, which has helped greatly with continued saving for college and retirement. And yet I still remember being that single mom who worried that she wanted to offer the best possible education to her son, but didn’t know if she could do it.
So seeing that tuition bill in black and white — thinking how those enriching experiences over the years helped turn M into an honors student who could land those scholarships — knowing that we can pay the balance easily from savings — amazing. Just amazing.