Life As A Low-Income College Student

Reyna Lopez-Flores, Contributor


Coming to Augsburg was a big change in my life. I am one of nine kids in my family and I am the very first to be attending a four-year institution, or college in general. While my older siblings did graduate high school, some could not further their education and some just did not want to continue to pursue it. I am happy to say that I love school and learning new things. My entire family is proud to say they have a family member who is currently attending college.

However, once college is mentioned, the cost always comes up. Looking back to my childhood, my family moved around so much due to finances, and we have struggled to make ends meet, living “paycheck to paycheck.” I started working when I was 14, and I am yet to stop.

As a first-year, I am currently doing my school work, working two jobs and managing three extracurricular activities. Since the year began, I have had to cut back on a lot of the little things I like to do, like going out with friends and buying things for myself or others. If I am being honest, more than half of the money I make has been going straight to my tuition. Before school started, I saved one of my checks to buy utilities for my dorm. Everything I bought–plates, silverware and cleaning supplies–was from the dollar store.

As I began working at the age of 14, I learned about budgeting. The reason I began working was because my family could not live on my mom’s income alone. I gave her half, and sometimes all, of my check. I made sure that my mom and little brother were good. Being here now, managing life on my own, has been a blessing and a curse. I struggle to manage my expenses, and I feel as if I am a stranger that comes with baggage in the eyes of my family. Being a first generation student in my family is something to be proud of, but I cannot help but stress my main concern: money. However, one way or another, I plan on getting my MBA because I know that this journey that I am on will get me and my family the life we deserve.

This article was originally published in the October 4, 2019 issue.