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October 17, 2008


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You are 23. You can file for aid independent of your parents. Best yet, sell one car, move someplace with a good community college. Work to pay for community college and take evening classes. Then move up to a 4 yr college after getting the basics done. You should make enough working even part time to pay for renting a room, gas and insurance, food, and tuition (at a state school).

You need to live a conscious life and decide if what you are doing is putting you on the right path. Learn delayed gratification and the difference between wants and needs.

Minimize your expenses to the max. You mentioned renting a house. Is that shared? If not, rent out a room to help with expenses.

You're single. Move where the jobs are. Who says you have to go to college? What about building trades? Although house construction is down, consider plumber, electrician, HVAC tech, etc. These folks make decent money and you get paid training. Or try sales, if you have that knack. What about the armed services? There are plenty of technical positions that won't put you in harm's way.

I agree with the community college suggestion. Do your research though, find out what classes from the CC would transfer into your desired degree at the 4 yr college. Work your butt off to get good grades and by the time you are ready, you'll have scholarships that will help you move forward.

I also agree with selling one car. If you need the cash right away, just to get started in a class, sell it! But remember to start tucking some money away so that you can pick up another one or repair the one you keep when the time comes...and it will.

Pick up a couple personal finance books and start reading! Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover is good....a bit extreme for my taste, but a lot of great information. Also, Suze Orman's(sp) latest book is awesome.

You're young and your head is in the right place but always remember that there is no such thing as getting rich quick for most people. It takes hard work, sacrifice and a LOT of determination.

Gather up some spare change and travel the world hobo style.

I would make sure that your parents arnt claiming you a a dependent (not sure if they can since your 23), and file for aid on your own. I like the idea of doing community college and try to apply for scolarships. Is the problem that you can't get into college, or that you can't pay for it? Either way, figure out what your ulitmate goal is and work hard to make it happen. Good luck!

If it is feasible start your own company! I mean, many people start their own companies out of necessity. You do not need college in order to do it, just a solid work ethic and a little education you can easily obtain from mentors.

If you do not want to go off on your own, there is an alternative to student loans that does not require debt in the financial sense. You could always join the military. It's a guaranteed job for 4 years no matter how bad the economy is. You can get 4 years of experience to add to your resume. You can get the GI Bill which pays for school, and also while you are in service you have tuition assistance which pays 100% of your tuition costs. I joined the Air Force and have Zero student debt, yet I'm almost finished with my masters degree. If you go this route, I'd recommend Navy or AF. Less grunt work, more like a 9-5 job, and more time to focus on school.

1. Enroll in a community college.

2. Sell one of the vehicles.

3. Ask your parents if you can live it home while you go to college.

4. Stop thinking about being wealthy.

5. Stop whining.

Move in with your parents and use the rent and living expense money to pay for a community college to which you commute. Who cares if you have to drive a longer distance to get there, you're making up for it in the end.

You aren't above living with your parents at only 23.

Maybe it's easier said than done, but I don't think so...

1. Sell a vehicle - why do you have 2?
2. Student loans - Anyone and everyone can get student loans, since you don't make much, you could probably get subsidized. Your parents should not be signing anything nor should you be a dependant on anyone's taxes.
3. Apply for colleges AND SCHOLARSHIPS
4. Go to college, get a part time job, do work study
5. Graduate
6. Get a job, pay off your loans

Thought everyone could get a Stafford loan unless you've killed someone....just looked it up, that wouldn't disqualify you either, only defaulting on a previous student loan...

I am 23 years old too and I'm able to manage my budget on my own... The best tip for you is to make money on eBay. You can easily buy some products such as clothing at wholesale then make money out of them on eBay. That's what I've been doing... Best of luck to you.

1. You're 23 and still depending on your parents? You should qualify for aid on your own, if that's what you really want to do. But honestly, I would try to find any job that is flexible - Starbucks, gas station, supermarket - and try to work through school. Start at Comm College if you must since it is cheaper and credits may transfer.

2. Sell whatever car you can get the most $$ for and drive the other one. Or better yet, sell both, move to a cheaper apartment near public transit.

3. Renting a house for just yourself? See #2 - rent a smaller/cheaper place.

4. If you can't do 1, 2, and 3 in your current town, move to a bigger one close enough to your parents to see them regularly.

Good luck!

Actually, at 23, he can't file independently, according to FAFSA. The minimum age for independence is 24, unless the following apply:

Independent Status

* You are at least 24 years old on the day you file your FAFSA
* You are or will be enrolled in a masters or Doctoral degree program at the beginning of the school year
* You are married on the day you file your FAFSA
* You are a parent
* You have dependents other than your spouse who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you at the time you apply
* Both your parents are deceased (or were until age 18) a ward of dependent of the court
* You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
* You’re a Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

FAFSA doesn't care about tax status, dependency status, living arrangements. This bit me hard when I walked out of my parents' house at 18 and found, much to my shock, that I couldn't get independent financial aid. Having walked in those shoes, I really feel for the reader.

My advice:

Consider sub-letting one or more bedrooms, if at all possible; that'll help defray rent. Also, you said you've been doing odd jobs--could you turn one of those into a business? If the possibility's there, sell one of your vehicles and maybe use that as seed money. Other than that, I'd say hang on until you hit 24 and fill out the FAFSA on your 24th birthday.

I'm not sure about other states policies, but I know that universities in California doesn't consider financial aid applicants 'independent' until they are 24 (or married, or a few other exceptions) -- regardless of whether or not their parents claim them as dependents for tax purposes.

Beyond that, other commenters had some great tips above...

If you want to go to college, I would recommend starting off at a community college where tuiton/fees will be much less expensive than at most 4-year colleges. They should have a financial aid office to help walk you through the process when you are ready.

I did not know about the age limit, but...

It only says you have to be born before January 1, 1985 which will be 1986 next term. So you don't have to wait until your 24th birthday, just the next FAFSA filing.

I call BS. Financial aid is done AFTER college admissions.

I'm with dogatemyfinances. Getting into college doesn't require any aid.

Further, wealth and college education are only somewhat related. The former doesn't require the latter, and the latter does not guarantee the former.

While I almost always encourage an education, you should go because you want to learn or want to get into a particular field. " one day I can be wealthy" isn't much of a reason. Seek the education that interests and challenges you to prepare you for the work that interests and challenges you. Then wealth may become a nice side benefit.

The people who recommend starting at the bottom are right on target. I went to a community college and now make a six-figure salary. My best friend also went to community college (starting in her thirties) and is now a physician. She's self-supporting, saddled with debt and on a road to eventual wealth while working in a rewarding field. She'll have her loans fully paid off around age 50.

My specific advice is to sell one car. Use the proceeds to enroll in one class at the local community college and take Spanish. Earn a 4.0. Do whatever it takes to get money for the next semester, take Spanish II and earn another 4.0. Next year, when you apply for financial aid to go full-time, you'll be old enough for independence, you'll have 6 credits, and you'll be an honor student. Not to mention, you'll already have a class full of contacts and a professor/mentor or two to help you to the next level. The Spanish credits will count toward any major, and will be useful to know for basic life skills if you find that you don't need that college degree after all.

Best of luck to you

Here's how I paid for college, with only $5,000 in student loans after 6 years at a private college:

1)Got a full-time seasonal job as summer help at a factory (mind-numbing work keeps you wanting to stay in school).

2) Applied for every scholarship I could, even with my Life insurance company (Thrivent).

3) Lived with my parents during all my breaks (I know it's hard to put up with, but how much do you want a college education?)

4) Got a part-time job for during the school year, around 25-30 hours per week. The best job I've ever seen is babysitting at a group home for the mentally challenged for the weekend.

5) Give plasma twice a week. That's $50 per week, and you can study while you sit there being bled.

If you get an associate's degree at a community college, you are automatically exempt from taking your generals at a four-year college. I wish I would have done that because I changed my major a few times so I ended up 6 years instead of 4 at a private college.

I do have to say, though, that college is not always the answer. Neither my husband nor I are using our Bachelor's degrees. I'm an insurance agent and my husband is a mechanic (which is how he put himself through college).

Community/state college: Talk to admissions in both to make sure there is a seamless program to go from one to another.

Plan work around school. You can work multiple jobs. You do not have to get straight As. But you do have to make school a priority (I did my MBA in 16 months with a job that involved travel, married, 2 preschool kids, one with autism).

Move in with parents, get roommates, or find a cheap apartment (I had my own place at $275 per month).

Avoid loans. If you know exactly what you want to do, borrowing for "the best" school makes sense. Otherwise, community college/state schools.

Note: often, graduate students do better having attended "teaching" schools, where the professors, rater than student assistants teach smaller classes. The biggest class I ever had was 60. As a result I interacted with all of my professors on a social level.

If you do not know what to major in, go for business. Understanding financial statements, knowing management and accounting basics, and a basic understanding of how business works can be applied to everything from a grage band to running a law office.

Fill your electives with classes that will help you communicate or understand how people and groups think (but make sure you throw in a couple classes that are fun!).

Best of luck

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