Ask Hahney: Financial Hardships

Courtesy of Terry Nguyen | Daily Trojan

Courtesy of Terry Nguyen | Daily Trojan

Q: I am going through a tough financial time where I’m struggling to pay for college while working as many shifts as I can, and my ends still aren’t meeting. I don’t want to leave school with student loans piled on my back, but at the same time I can’t afford to stay at college even with financial aid. What would you do if you were in my situation?

Please pat yourself on the back. You are an incredible person. And… if no one has ever told you this, you are amazing.  

It is my firm belief that education shouldn’t be an option solely for the wealthy. Our sky-high tuition is outrageous and I am so incredibly sorry that our financial aid office does not do more for you. However, I know that your options right now are limited and so I will give you my frank advice.

If I were you, I would very carefully weigh my options. If you haven’t yet, I would definitely talk to the financial aid office in person. I have heard of so many situations where talking to the office in person has drastically altered the outcome. Afterwards, I would honestly look at the job(s) you have. Are you working on campus? Do you have a job outside of campus? There are some jobs that often have a higher pay rate on this campus so doing a bit of research could help. Also, if you have the means to, sometimes working a paid internship off campus will pay you better than jobs on campus. Lastly, I would see how you’re budgeting your money. Are you going out to eat often? Are you having to buy some food on campus? If you are, I would genuinely think about meal-prepping, etc. I know much of social life in college can revolve around eating out, but your true friends will understand. Also, if you can hold out another semester; applying for continuing student scholarships can definitely help– apply to the alumni club ones, your respective school ones, etc.

Truthfully, student loans suck and if you feel like that number is getting too high– I would think about maybe taking a semester off. That’s probably the least ideal option, but if you take a semester off, make some money, and then come back to attend school, that could help so much. I’m not one to share my life on the internet, but I can’t imagine my school journey had it not been for my dad’s consistent dedication to his education when he was younger. He took 6 years to graduate college because he was working odd jobs (taking semesters off) to pay for that tuition.

I praise you in whatever decision you decide to take– whether that is staying, taking a semester off, or transferring, etc… It’s not an easy one and I am so sorry that the price tag for our education is this damn high.

If any administrator at USC happens to stumble upon this article, I beg you to take a look at where our school’s tuition is now and yet, how high our endowment is. The two don’t add up. I beg you to think about the students whose parents are working 80+ hours to send them to this school. I ask you to reflect upon how some students are working tirelessly and studying endlessly to get this education. I urge you to talk to students because not everyone can afford that estimated cost of attendance (~$70,000). Our USC degree may come with its benefits, but to earn a degree at the cost of our mental, physical, and social well being is absurd. Tell me how a university can view education as a business and student’s health as secondary to our donor’s dollars. If our campus was really made of a family, shouldn’t we be trying to assist our family members? If you really wanted to give students an enriching experience– you would focus on the students, not your pockets.

Submit your ethical quandaries to and be on the lookout for sage advice from Ask Hahney.