The Old College Try, Costing More

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The financial crisis is forcing commentator Mia-Sarah Abedullah of Youth Radio to make some changes.

I've had an NYU flag on my wall for almost as long as I can remember. It's where I always imagined myself going to college. But this global economic crisis situation thing has forced me to rethink my plans.

About 2 months ago, my mom lost her job from Citigroup, one of the largest financial companies in the world, where she had worked for over 21 years. We all just assumed that she would work there forever. My mom's been the sole breadwinner for me and my two sisters ever since my dad died when I was just 5 years old.

So now a lot of things are changing in my house. Like sushi, for instance. We love it and used to go out for it all the time, but now the four Abdullah woman aren't out enjoying Miso Soup and Spider Rolls together. Sushi has become a delicacy — just like college.

NYU, Tulane, and Columbia are all schools I considered applying to, but now they all seem too expensive. Boston University, another school I was excited about, would cost my family more than $270,000 upon graduation! Even with financial aid and scholarships, schools like these seem out-of-reach now.

But maybe they always should have seemed out-of-reach. If both of my sisters also spent that kind of money, my family would be looking at close to a million dollars in tuition costs. That's just coo-koo.

My mom and I haven't even talked about tuition costs yet. But maybe her job loss has saved us from having another difficult conversation. She doesn't have to ask me to consider state schools — I'm looking at them all on my own. SUNI Binghamton is a great university. Maybe it's not an Ivy League college, but do I really need to mortgage my future on student loans?

I'm lucky that I'm still a high school junior. Maybe the economy will be healthier by the time I'm heading to college. I might be the eldest daughter, but for now I'm not the one my family is focusing on sending to school.

We're getting ready for my mom to go back to community college this spring, to train for a new, and hopefully more stable, career.

Commentator Mia-Sarah Abedullah of Youth Radio is 16. She lives in Brooklyn.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from