By Tillman McClunie
Ending my junior year of college, I thought I had everything together and knew how my senior year was going to fall out. But during my second semester. My parents had paid for my freshman year as far as housing and tuition. But attending a Division I university like the University of Missouri isn’t cheap whether you’re paying in-state or out-of-state tuition.
Due to a lack of funds and financial support I thought it would be best to apply as a Residential Advisor inside the dorms. My sophomore and junior year I acted as a Residential Advisor which ultimately helped me significantly in covering crucial costs. The RA position provided me with free housing and food which was extremely helpful. Unfortunately attending school during the pandemic took a toll on me mentally and physically.
During my second year I began to feel alone and cornered, as I lived by myself in my dorm room, taking online classes and separated from friends. I had no social life and trying to find the motivation to get schoolwork done was difficult with learning and assignments. I survived the year but ultimately decided for the sake of my mental health and personal happiness to retire from the RA position and get my own personal space off campus.
My father did not support my decision. But it’s what I wanted, and I was determined to make it happen. To make up for the lost money towards tuition and a place to sleep, I had to come up with a plan.
With senior year coming up, I was in a predicament. My father refused to co-sign for my apartment, and I had to find some way to come up with about $5,000 to cover food and housing for the next academic school year. On top of that my father informed me that if I was leaving the RA position, I would have to pay tuition on my own.
If you ever get in a position where you must support yourself at any point in college, it’s important to come up with a plan. First, I realized I would have to take out a loan for my classes. It was important to meet with a financial aid adviser to set a game plan that wouldn’t hurt me in the long run. As far as a co-signature, my uncle trusted my plan and ability to make my payments.
Next, I had to get familiar with my financial resources. I returned home to Kansas City and picked up two summer jobs. My goal was to make at least $500 a week. I had to estimate the cost of groceries and housing and I decided it would be beneficial to have a part-time job while in school as well. During the day I had a paid internship and worked for my dad’s moving company as my primary source of income. On the weekends I worked security in downtown Kansas City at bars and nightclubs to make at least an extra hundred. By the end of the summer, I had reached $4,000 of the $5,000 needed.
Rent was due on the first day of each month in a payment of around $500 including utilities. I had another plan in place in case I didn’t reach my goal of $5,000 at the end of the summer. In my college town, the local plasma donation center was offering $100+ for each visit so I went twice a week to get to $500 by the end of the month.
My on-campus job was working at Mizzou Recreation center for minimum wage. It wasn’t much but it provided me with extra money for groceries and other small necessities.
But estimating expenses and creating a savings plan made things easier in the long run. From this experience I’ve learned that planning ahead and getting familiar with resources in your area is extremely helpful.
Also don’t be afraid to share your struggles and tribulations with others because someone is always willing to help. I’m at the end of my collegiate journey and things are getting difficult but because I was prepared and sought out help wherever needed, I’m able to see it through to the end.
McClunie is a graduating senior at the University of Missouri.