Feeling like you'd never be able to afford a Christian education? You're not alone. These five families knew the value of a Christian college education, but weren't sure they could afford it.
Here are their stories.
Roxanne Kesselhon is the first to admit that she was shocked when she saw the price tag for the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. Right away, it seemed it would be impossible to send her daughter Melissa there. The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh seemed to be a better optionit was closer to their home in Neenah, Wisconsin, and would cost significantly less. "I still thought it was a lot," Roxanne admits, "but I knew we could afford that."
After carefully assessing her finances, Roxanne was more convinced than ever that she couldn't afford to send Melissa to the University of Sioux Falls. She didn't have any college savings for her daughter, and the two child daycare businesses Roxanne owns with Melissa's stepfather weren't doing well. "We are definitely feeling the economic slowdown," Roxanne says. "Child enrollment has been down, and it's like we're only taking in one paycheck." The money just wasn't there.
Matters only got worse when Roxanne realized they'd made a huge mistake on the FAFSA (see page 51 for a definition of this term). The family's maxed-out line of credit, which was $150,000, was accidentally counted as their net worth. The government then figured that the family could afford to contribute $20,000 toward Melissa's tuition.
"The real picture is very different," Roxanne says. "When the FAFSA was filled out correctly, our expected family contribution was $1,700. But by the time we realized our mistake, all the grant money and need-based scholarships were gone. We learned a very hard lesson."
The writing on the wall seemed clear: Melissa would not be able to go to a Christian college. But Roxanne continued to pray about it and pored over the family finances again. "I really believe God wanted Melissa to be at Sioux Falls," Roxanne says. "Because when I was ready to tell her she couldn't go, we saw how we could pull together and come up with the additional funds. It drained all our resources, but the money was there."
Roxanne was able to land a second job as a caretaker for a woman who suffers from dementia. She also increased her hours at the family businesses to 50 hours a week. Melissa's younger sister, Brittany, also pitched in. She decided to quit her school baton teamwhich was costing nearly $100 a monthso more money could be sent to Melissa.
Melissa, an elementary education major, arranges her class schedule so she can baby-sit three to four hours every day. The job puts some spending cash in her pocket and allows her to help pay for books and other school-related expenses.
It hasn't been easy. And Roxanne is definitely looking forward to filling out the FAFSA again so Melissa can receive some financial aid. But according to Roxanne, the sacrifice has definitely been worth it. Roxanne says, "When I see Melissa on the dean's list and blossoming spiritually, I'd do it all over again."
Imagine sending not just one child to a Christian college, but twoat the same time. That's exactly what Guillermo and Cleotilde Rodriguez, office managers in Los Angeles, are doing. They emigrated from Nicaragua in 1988 with the hopes of providing a better life for their familyand that meant sending their four children to a Christian college. But when it came time to actually send the oldest two, Flor and Barbara, to college, the Rodriguez family didn't feel they could possibly foot the bill.