Season 2 | Episode 20
Jun 18, 2020

How to pay for college

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Years ago, one woman put college on hold because she couldn’t afford it. Now she faces a hard choice to keep history from repeating itself. Plus: What will college even look like this fall?

The promotion came at a bad time.

When Nikki Massie was a sophomore in college, she found herself facing a much higher tuition bill after her mom landed a new, higher-paying job.

“A lot of my financial aid dropped out,” Massie said. “I got some loans but it didn’t cover everything.”

She took a waitressing job to cover the rest of her expenses, saving every penny. It was exhausting, and eventually Massie decided that, for the sake of her own health, she’d need to take time away from school.

The break was supposed to be just a few months, but it wasn’t until seven years later that Massie ended up finishing her bachelor’s degree. She went on to complete a master’s degree, all while raising her two daughters as a single parent.

Massie always knew she didn’t want her girls to struggle with finances the way she did when she was a student. She made it a goal to be their partner in paying for school.

Massie went to great lengths to help pay for her eldest daughter’s first two years of college. Now, with her youngest getting ready to start her freshman year at Howard University, Massie is up against even more tough choices, especially as schools consider going online for the fall semester.

Massie’s daughters, Zariyah and Annikki. (Courtesy: Nikki Massie)

“As a parent it’s really hard to sort of temper that — it’s hard to temper between what is your child’s heart’s desire? And not just their heart’s desire, but she’s trying to do something good with her life,” Massie said. “It feels like no matter which way I go, there isn’t a 100% right solution.”

On this week’s show, we’re digging into the sacrifices families make to pay for school — they’re not always what you’d expect. And later, we’ll talk to students grappling with just how different campus might be this fall.

For more “This Is Uncomfortable,” don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. We have more stories from the George Floyd protests, along with some recommendations from our team. Here’s the latest issue, in case you missed it.

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