Thursday, June 08, 2006


I hate money.  I hate thinking about it, I hate talking about it and, most of all, I hate worrying about it.  The only reason I would like to win the lottery is so that I wouldn’t have to worry about having enough money.  

I am in graduate school at DePaul.  DePaul is not cheap.  There was a death in my family and I inherited a small sum, which paid for my first 2.5 quarters.  I had some savings that covered the other half of the third quarter and my books etc for the rest.  That money is gone now, so I had to take out a student loan.

I was lucky enough in undergrad to not have to take out student loans.  My grandfather made a gift of some sort of mutual fund to all of his grandchildren, when we were born, to pay for college.  The majority of the money I made at my various high school jobs went into this fund, and so college was paid for. I went to a private college, so none of that money is left now. In any case, I have no experience with student loans.

So, when it came time to register for summer classes and next fall, I also started to think about student loans.  This is when I discovered that I was a month too late to apply for FAFSA.  Ok.  I have a friend who works for Chase Bank, so I gave him a call and he gave me the number for their student loan department.  So, I go through all the paperwork and, hooray!  I am conditionally approved, now they just need to get DePaul to confirm that I am, in fact, a student there.

So, everything is approved.  I have gotten at least four notices in the mail – one saying I was conditionally approved, one telling me I’m approved and the funds will be disbursed soon, one telling me the details of my financed charges, and another one saying that the money has been disbursed (but no check has arrived).  So, this morning, I check my online account and discover that the money was sent out over two weeks ago.  This is odd, since I have no money.  So, I call the bank and they tell me that it was sent to DePaul’s Financial Aid office.  Interesting.

At no point in the entire application/approval/disbursement/notification process was I informed that the money would be going to DePaul.  I’m a grown-up, this is a private loan, not through the government or the school, and I chose the amount I was requesting, taking into account tuition, books, and living expenses.  So, I freak out a little.

Honest to God, it is like neurons actually explode in my head when money is discussed.  Not big money – I can talk about what groceries cost, or rent or whatever, but when you talk big-picture, or big money, my brain starts to shut down and I cry.  I literally feel intense pressure in my head and my face gets hot and I break down.  It’s the strangest thing.  I can’t even begin to explain the process.  There aren’t specific worries that I have, I just shut down.  I don’t know why.  It’s like the biggest stressor in the world for me.  Granted, my loan isn’t big money on a grand scale, but it is in the thousands of dollars range and that’s a shit-ton for me.  

So, I hear that DePaul has the money and I freak out.  Because, DePaul is not very helpful.  I haven’t been able to schedule an appointment with an academic advisor – I tried once and she didn’t actually schedule it and ended up scheduling someone else at the same time, and I just didn’t feel like trying again.  She never apologized or tried to set up another appointment, just… nothing, so the thought of DePaul being in charge of what is supposed to take care of me for the next year is troubling.  I mean, I have no idea where the financial aid office is.  I have never heard from them, I have never talked to them, as far as my mind is concerned, they don’t exist.

So, I call.  I’m put on hold.  While on hold, I check my DePaul tuition account online.  What I find is distressing.  Though I have paid, in full, my previous three quarters there, they have taken my loan amount and divided it between the three quarters and applied it to my tuition.  BUT I ALREADY PAID MY TUITION.  So, now someone gets on the line and she tries to be helpful, but basically tells me to call someone else.  So, I hang-up and break down again.  Like I said, I don’t know why.  

It seems like everything will be fine.  I still have to call this guy, but it sounds like, they apply it to my current outstanding balance, which is the upcoming two quarters, and then they give me a check for the rest.  I kind of get screwed in that I wanted to pay my tuition with a credit card that gives me points and then use the money to pay the credit card, but whatever, I will deal with it.  

What I don’t understand is why I was totally and completely left out of the loop.  No one told me that the money would be sent to DePaul and no one at DePaul let me know that the money had come in.  I mean, this is a huge amount.  Ok, maybe if you’re Bill Gates it’s pocket change, but for the average student, this is big money.  Shouldn’t I have gotten an e-mail saying “your student loan check has arrived, it will be applied to your account.”?   Is that too much to ask?  I haven’t experienced this world of borrowed money, but, seeing that I’m the one responsible for the finance fees and interest on this money, it seems like I should know what is happening with it.  Right?

It makes me want to drop out of school, suck it up and stick with my go-nowhere job for the next thirty years, where I will at least be guaranteed a 5% raise every year and go back to bed.  Nothing is worth this hassle.

And why is my reaction to cry and want to hide in bed, in the dark?  I’m getting fucked over.  Why aren’t I mad?  What was it in the formation of my perception of the world that made me think that money is a scary thing and that, when faced with issues I should just give up?  Why can’t I call and bitch somebody out about this without breaking into tears?  This bugs me more than anything else.  I’m generally a strong person, but bring money into the picture and I’m your stereotypical picture of a woman from, like, the 1950’s.  “oh, just let my husband deal with that.  I have no head for numbers.” It’s like that Barbie who said “Math is tough!” really did affect me.  What good did my liberal arts, somewhat feminist education do for me if I can’t utilize those ideals and attitudes in the real world?

Why wasn’t I taught about money?  I mean, I think in sixth grade or something they taught us how to balance a checkbook, but why wasn’t I taught about interest rates – I vaguely remember some math question about savings accounts and checking accounts and interest rates, but I mean really taught this stuff.  Somewhere along the line, my boyfriend learned about money management and I didn’t.  And, from the number of friends I have with huge credit card debt and some serious money-management issues, it seems like I’m not alone.  

I have to get my mind off of this topic.  I have a final this afternoon that I need to prep for.  

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