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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

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

Ms. MIA-SARAH ABEDULLAH (Commentator, Youth Radio): 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 the global economic crisis has forced me to rethink my plans. About two months ago, my mom lost her job from Citigroup, the largest financial services company in the world. She worked there for over 21 years, and we all just assumed that she would be there forever. My mom has been the sole breadwinner for my two sisters and me ever since my dad died when I was just five years old. So now a lot of things are changing in my house. Like sushi. We love it and we used to go out for it all the time. But now the four of us aren't out enjoying miso soup and California rolls together. Sushi has become a delicacy, just like college.

NYU, Tulane, and Columbia are all schools I've considered applying to, but now they all seem too expensive. Boston University, another school I was excited about, would cost my family more than $200,000 by the time I graduate. 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 three quarters of a million dollars in tuition costs. That's just crazy. My mom and I haven't even talked about tuition prices yet, but maybe her job loss has saved us from having yet another difficult conversation.

She doesn't have to ask me to consider state schools. I'm looking at them all on my own. SUNY 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 because maybe the economy will be healthier by the time I head to college. And even though I am the eldest daughter, 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.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Commentator Mia-Sarah Abedullah is 16 years old. She's with Youth Radio, a project that brings us young people's voices. And she lives in Brooklyn.

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