I am graduating nursing school in just a few months, exciting right!?! I have been in college for four years and one semester, when I graduate I will have my BS in nursing and a minor in psychology.
My first two years of college were completely paid for through financial aid and scholarships. The first year I lived on campus, so I saved a lot of money on food by eating at the cafeteria (I had a full meal plan) and I had no bills to pay. My second year of college was completely paid for as well from scholarships and financial aid, but I did not live on campus. During this year I was introduced to bills and rent (not fun). I had some money in savings, but no where near enough to get me through the year, so I had to find a job. Since I was only working on my pre-requisites, I was able to work as a CNA at least 32 hours a week. The pay was not the best, but it was a job and it paid rent. I was set for the year.
The next two and a half years of college I did not receive financial aid, and my scholarships no where near covered my tuition and books for the year, so I had to step up my game a bit to save money and pay for college. I continued to work at least 32 hours a week while juggling clinical rotations (as I was now in the nursing program) and lab days. By doing this, I was able to pay the remaining balance of my tuition for the year out-of-pocket. My last full year of college, I received no financial aid and my scholarships did not cover the tuition and book cost. But lucky me, I had decided to spend my summer working my tail off to save up enough to pay for books, tuition, rent, bills, and yes, even food. I continued to work throughout that year, though I did have to cut back on hours to accommodate for more clinical and lab hours.
That brings me to my last semester. I knew my scholarships would run out after four years, and I knew there was no chance of receiving financial aid. So again, I worked my tail off during the summer to save up enough money to pay for the full tuition, books, rent...well you get the picture. However, though I saved money for the year, I did not account for hidden costs such as hotels and gas for when I traveled to do my Capstone, or for the NCLEX registration and background checks. I had not originally intended to work my last semester of college because I wanted to take more time to focus on studies and preparing to take my state boards, but because of the hidden costs, I had to. I cut back my hours to only 16 hours a week and picked up hours where I could. By doing so, I somehow managed to scrape together enough money to pay for everything.
I am now only a month away from graduating nursing school. I have absolutely no student loans to pay back, no debt, and I did not borrow one penny from my parents. I worked my way through nursing school and threw everything I had into being able to graduate financially stable and not having to worry about paying back student loans that accumulate ridiculous amounts of interest. It was rough to say the least, but I managed. I am proud to say that I worked hard enough not only to sustain myself, but to pay my way through college.