After writing my last post, I feel I should explain something (unless you know me in real life, then this post is old news to you).
I do not have a student loan. Yes, I did complete 5 years of university and I have a B.Ed to show for it (with distinction, if I can toot my own horn). My parents were not rich. They were barely middle class. I was the eldest of the children, and I used to watch my mom balance her cheque book (did I mention that I am a math nerd?) and see all the negative signs. I knew they had no money. I knew there was no money for me to go to school. I knew that I would have to rely on scholarships and loans if I were to get a higher education.
In January of my senior year, I received notice from the University of Alberta that I had received a $4000 open scholarship and several faculty specific scholarships. The most valuable of these was from the faculty of engineering, offering an additional $2000 in comparison to the other faculties. I had no desire to be an engineer. I didn’t even know what an engineer did. To be honest, I am still not quite sure. My dad saw the scholarship letter, and was ecstatic. “Just because you don’t know what an engineer does doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Try it for a year, then you’ll know.” I laughed, because we both knew that the fancy scholarship was the main motivation behind this.
At this point, I was not sure whether I would even attend the U of A. I had been considering going to a technical college and becoming an X-Ray tech and continuing on to sonography. No technical colleges were calling me up and offering thousands of dollars to study there, and so I decided that the U of A would most likely be my destination.
In February of that same year, my father was killed in a work-related accident. Because his death was the result of a workplace incident, my mother began receiving a pension from the workman’s compensation board in addition to the regular life insurance that he had. This workman’s compensation money is what enabled me to go to school and not worry about the money. Granted, I still kept my grades up in order to earn scholarships and I worked hard in the summer to help pay for my education, but my dad is the reason that my sisters and I do not have loans.
I was able to graduate without worrying about debt or securing a job – any job – just to make my loan payments. I was free to choose what I wanted. Not all graduates have this luxury. My dad didn’t even this luxury. He died working underpaid at a job that he did not like, just to pay the bills. Just to pay for piano lessons, dance lessons and hockey equipment for his daughters.
I was fortunate. But if I could trade it all to spend another day with my dad and introduce him to my husband and his grandson, I would.
Money is not everything.