COLLEGE PARENTS: How We Afforded It

The most common question I’ve gotten since I’ve started sharing our journey on social media, is “How were you able to financially afford living on your own, going to school, and having a baby at the same time?” Finally, after all of these years, I am going to break down step-by-step how we were able to make it work. My hope is that at least one person is able to utilize this information to their benefit!




I’m going to break it down two different sections: Life before I got pregnant with Ayda, and life after. I was originally planning on going through all phases of our lives so far (During school, after I graduated but Adrian was still in school, and now,) but I realize that this is enough information for one post so I will save those for a new one!


So, let’s get started.


WHEN WE WERE BOTH IN SCHOOL (BEFORE AYDA):

Going back to before I even got pregnant, when I first transferred to USF, I received financial aid (in the form of both grants and loans) to cover tuition and all of the costs that our school laid out. These costs included books, food, on-campus housing, etc. Tuition was just a fraction of the total cost. Because I was a Junior when I transferred to the school, I had the option of opting out of on-campus housing, and getting my own place off-campus. If I chose to do this, I would still receive the funds that were allocated to on-campus housing and all of the other costs, but in the form of a check every semester, rather than it getting sent to the school.


To put it simply, I would receive a huge check every semester that I put in an account to be used strictly for rent. It was a little tricky finding a place at first, because most landlords just had to take my word for how I was going to pay rent, but once I received the money and was able to show them a bank statement, that was enough to get me approved. Although my rent was covered, I still knew I needed to get a job to be able to afford everyday items and food.


Thankfully I found the perfect living situation- I was renting a family’s lower unit apartment ( called an in-law’s suite) where I had my own room, bathroom, and private entrance, but I had to share their kitchen and laundry. The family had a little boy and two little twin girls. Aside from needing to rent out a room in their house, they were also looking for a nanny to help care for their kids. SCORE! I would pay my full rent every month, just to keep things simple, but they would pay me back for the hours I helped out with the kids.

I also found another babysitting job that I scheduled around my classes. Although it wasn’t much, all I needed the money for was food and gas, since my rent was covered, so it was the perfect situation!


Adrian, on the other hand, was a freshman so he needed to live on campus. This meant that rather than getting his money directly, it was given to the school to pay for his dorm and his meal plan card (that I was able to take advantage of too!) He was running track and was able to get a job at the school in the Event’s department so that he could have a little extra cash.


WHEN WE WERE BOTH IN SCHOOL (AFTER AYDA):

Things started getting tricky once I got pregnant, a few weeks before my second semester of junior year, and Adrian’s freshman year. My situation remained the same, as far as receiving the Financial Aid check to cover rent, but I knew that it was best to not stay in the house that I was currently living in, given that at this point Adrian and I needed to get a place of our own, before bringing a baby into the mix. But we needed to be strategic.


I was due in August, and we knew that once second semester was over in May, Adrian would be able to move out of the dorms, and opt out of on-campus housing the following year. This would mean that we would both receive checks to help cover the cost of rent. But, because rent was so high in San Francisco, and we needed an actual apartment, and not to just rent a room in someone’s house, we were going to have to save up a bunch of additional money to cover the difference of what the checks wouldn’t cover.


I continued living at the house that I was renting a room in for the majority of my pregnancy. I continued helping out with their kids for money, nannying for the other family, and also got a paid internship at Morgan Stanley, in addition to my classes every day. Adrian still went to school, ran track, worked for the school events department, and also got a job at a local gym. We knew we needed to save as much money as possible, in the shortest amount of time possible.


Our schedules looked something like this:


Mikayla-

MWF

6:00-8:00AM Help with the kids upstairs

9:00-1:00PM Work at Morgan Stanley

2:00-3:30PM Class

4:00-6:30PM Babysit for other family

7:30-9:00PM Help with the kids upstairs


T/TH

6:00-8:00AM Help with the kids upstairs

9:00-3:00PM Class

4:00-6:30PM Babysit for other family

7:30-9:00 Help with the kids upstairs


Adrian-


MWF

8:00-10:00AM Weight Lifting

10:00-2:00PM Class

2:00-4:00PM Practice

4:00-9:00PM Work at the Gym


T/TH

8:00-10:00AM Class

10:00-12:00PM Practice

12:00-4:00PM Class

6:00-10:00PM Work at the school


SAT

8:00-4:00PM Work at the Gym

5:00-10:00PM Work at the school


You get the point.


To say we were busy is an understatement, not to mention the fact that I was the only one with a car, so the majority of the time we were taking the bus to and from all of our different jobs. The reason we both worked so much was because we knew we wouldn’t be able to work once the baby was here (or at least one of us wouldn’t.) So we were not only saving for rent, but also saving up enough for us to live off of completely for the next year, until I graduated from school the following May.


Adrian has always been really great at numbers and making budgets, so he set a number for us to save every month, in order for us to hit our goal by May, and we made sure we did just that. May came around and we got approved for the cutest two bedroom apartment. Adrian made an Excel spreadsheet with our entire budget laid out on it- how much we could spend on food, gas, bills, rent, and all of the other necessities, and how much extra we had.


I had Ayda in August, a week before the first semester of my senior year started. Adrian and I scheduled our classes around each other so that when he was at school, I had Ayda and when I was at school, he had Ayda. He also continued to work in the evenings, after school and practice, and on the weekends. Any extra money that he made from working those days, was ours to spend on whatever we wanted, assuming we were still on track with our budget.


Believe it or not, looking back now, that was a more simple in our lives. We knew exactly how much money we had to spend each month and there was no way around it or any questions to be asked. It’s crazy now to think about how young we were, especially Adrian. I’m so proud of us and how we handled our situation.


I hope this post answers all of the questions you had about how we were able to make life work while we were both in school, with a baby! If there’s anything I may have missed please comment below and I will reply in the comments!




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