Imagine this: You’re diligently working toward your bachelor’s degree at University of Phoenix, one course at a time… But now your 9-year-old has slipped while trying a new trick on her skateboard, and you have a $600 emergency room bill that is not in the already tight budget. As you see it, you have just one option: Put your college education on hold so you can deal with other financial demands.
Not so fast! We invite you to reimagine your choices because at UOPX, we have options to help our students work through financial challenges. “Don’t give up!” urges Chris Conway, director of financial education initiatives. “We understand life happens.”
Every student’s situation is different, and UOPX makes no promise that it can help every student. But there may be several potential solutions, whether they entail federal grants or loans, a proactive payment plan or untapped scholarships. “The biggest challenge we have is getting people to talk with us,” Conway says. “We really encourage students to reach out and ask.”
Conway says adult learners are like other Americans, struggling to get by financially. Consider the statistics revealed in these studies:
Money = Stress. Money is the dominant source of stress for Americans, far outpacing personal relationships and work, a study by Northwestern Mutual found. The study indicated 44 percent of adults identified money as their dominant source of stress, and 52 percent said they feel insecure about their financial situation at least sometimes.
Not Even $400. Of 11,000 adults surveyed by the Federal Reserve last year, 27 percent said they would have to borrow or sell something to cover an unexpected expense of $400. Another 12 percent said they couldn’t cover such an expense. That financial insecurity was reported in the Fed’s Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report.
Dropping Out.Nearly 3 million college students drop out every year for reasons related to finances, according to Tyton Partners, which has been conducting an annual research study since 2016.
Hungry In College. A number of studies have pulled back the curtain on’ food insecurity among college students, as the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in early 2019. And it’s not just food that financially strapped students are going without. Not insignificant numbers of college students report housing insecurity or even homelessness, according to a study by The Hope Center at Temple University that used data from 123 colleges and surveys of 86,000 students.
More than half of the surveyed students at two-year institutions and 44 percent of students from four-year institutions worried about running out of food. Almost half of students in the survey said they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
Homelessness affected 18 percent of the students from two-year institutions, and 14 percent of those attending four-year institutions. Those students reported everything from sleeping on a friend’s couch to sleeping outdoors.
A full 60 percent of students from two-year institutions and 48 percent of students from four-year institutions reported housing insecurity, which ranged from an inability to pay for a rent increase to leaving a residence because it was unsafe.
What students need to know, says Conway, is that it’s not unusual to struggle financially, particularly when you have family responsibilities. Because a student with federal financial aid — a Pell grant or a student loan, for instance — may have to repay the government or UOPX for failed or dropped classes, it’s especially important to speak to a University finance adviser, Conway says. “A student shouldn’t feel embarrassed to call us and say ‘I need help.’” Students can connect with a finance adviser via the “Paying for School” tab on the UOPX website — by phone, chat or email.
Financial stress is no reason to give up on your dream of a college education and the doors it can open. Let us help you explore options for a path forward.