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how to pay for college

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This is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Coca-Cola but all opinions expressed about how to pay for college are my own.

I grew up working class to parents who only graduated high school. My father was a blue-collar worker in a factory and my mom stayed at home and took care of the six of us children. My grandparents were the same, only my grandfather farmed. Bottom line was that I come from a long line of people who work really hard because it was the only choice they had. My parents wanted better for their children.

I was taught from a very early age that education was the ticket to a new life. If I got a good education and worked really hard, I could have anything I wanted. I could be anyone I wanted. Live anywhere I wanted. I could do anything I wanted, if I were willing to pay the price in determination, dedication and hard work. I was never told there was another option so from the time I could remember; I worked to do my best in school. It wasn’t just about me. I was the hope for better from my parents and I was the example for my younger siblings.

This lesson was drilled into my head. I’d get A’s my dad would ask, “Why are these not A+ s?” I never felt that I could do enough but going to college was the end goal because it was the means to better. Failure was not an option. The only option I was given was to work hard and to do it. I lived my life on a mission to excel. This is what my parents wanted and it was my duty to succeed for all of us.

Now, mind you, there was never any plan in action to help me pay for this journey. They expected me to go to college but they had no intention or idea of how to pay for it. It was all up to me. I won’t lie, it was hard. I felt like I had worked hard to get the grades, I should have gotten some help when it came time to pay for university but sometimes what we expect and what we get are not the same so I had to figure it out, on my own.

I did figure it out. I applied for financial aid, I took out loans and I even did work study in my dorm’s cafeteria freshman year even thought he smell of food repulsed me. It was what I needed to do to cobble together the funds for tuition. Over the years, I would take a semester off here or there to work at odd jobs and save the money. Finally, after 8 years, I graduated with a whole lot of debt. I want better for my girls.

My girls know that I expect them to go to college. They know how important an education is in this world. It is their part of the bargain to get the grades to be accepted. It is our job as parents to help them and guide them through the financial aid process, scholarship application process and if need be take out loans for them. My goal is for them to focus on school and for us to help them succeeded in college while accruing the least amount of debt. I don’t want them leaving college with a huge financial burden hanging over their heads. I am still paying on my graduate degree loans. There has to be a better way. We have to equip our children not only with the desire to succeed but the means to get there or we are just setting them up for failure, disappointment and heartache.

This year, Coca-Cola is partnering with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to help Hispanic families achieve their college dreams and aspirations, as part of the #ForTheDream Hispanic Education Program and the #ForTheDreamSweeps sweepstakes.

The purpose of Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program is to inspire and empower Latino teens and their families to prepare, plan and pay for their college education. Something I wish I had in my toolbox when I was preparing to go to university.

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Coca-Cola is donating $100,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. To help raise additional money toward the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Coca-Cola is donating $1 for every social media post with the hashtag #ForTheDream, up to $10,000.

Financial pressure is the number one reason that Latino youth do not attend college. As a community supporter and partner of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program is helping provide Hispanic families with the resources needed to attend a college preparatory boarding school and achieve a higher education.

Coca-Cola understands the importance Latino families place on education, and wants to provide them with the opportunity to achieve their educational goals and become future leaders. The For The Dream program has a sweepstakes component, #ForTheDreamSweeps, in which Coca-Cola is awarding one College Tour Experience and 34 x $500 grants to cover education expenses. For more details about how to get your teens ready for college you can visit the For the Dream microsite. To enter simply share a photo and Tweet or post about why education matters for our youth and community or how your family pushed you to pursue your education.

I will be giving away a Coca-Cola prize pack to one lucky reader.  Winner will be chosen on August 4th. The prize will include a fun Coca-Cola-themed Summer Prize pack that features a logo cooler bag, sunglasses, Mason jar tumbler and a visor.To enter simply leave a comment below telling me why you think an education is so important?

How will you teach your child how to pay for college?


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