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There are different sides to being a broke college student

Although we all struggle, some face more serious consequences

Photo illustration done on Wednesday, March 3, 2016.

Photo illustration done on Wednesday, March 3, 2016.

“I’m a broke college student.” 

We've all heard it before or have said it ourselves. We all know how expensive college is. We get it, being educated comes at a high cost, but — are we all equally broke? 

The reality of not affording certain things because of school is a reality that many students face, but it's generally taken very lightly. At times, students might be prejudiced and make immediate assumptions based on their own financial status, but there is a bigger context to be considered. 

Do you ever wonder why your classmate is always tired or late to class or always falling asleep? Have you ever asked yourself how that one person can afford to buy Starbucks every day? Halfway through your eight hour shift, do you ever think about those who need a job but can't get employed?

If you don't, you should, because financial burdens vary widely and are unique for every student.

A full-ride scholarship recipient, criminology and criminal justice and social work junior Amy Bello, has four brothers and sisters her family has to care for. With the financial aid she receives, her parents could help her pay for her own personal expenses, but Bello made the decision on her own to help not only herself, but also her family. 

"They could help me out, but I don't feel comfortable," she said. "I don't want to be a burden to my parents. My first year I wouldn't sleep at all. Now I can't go without sleep. It get's harder with time."

On the other hand, ASU transborder Chicano/a and Latino/a studies junior Yaritza Anaya, a President Barack Obama Scholar Program recipient, worked part-time last semester. She was able to provide as much as she needed for her own personal expenses. 

"Being stressed over money and school was an option for me." Her parents could have helped her but she decided to embrace this challenge and little did she know a new challenge would soon change her life.

Now a mother of a 2-week-old, Anaya has to find a job to pay for her family. Her experience with school and work will now be different as she has to provide for her daughter. Receiving enough funds to pay for her education she continues to fight the irony most of us do—pursuing a degree can be one of our biggest obstacles.  

Financial obstacles for many students is more than just a joke. What we tend to overlook might be a requirement for somebody else. What we might consider exhausting and overwhelming might be what another person needs to survive. We are so caught up in our crazy day-to-day activities that we fail to recognize the differences that lie among us.

For some of your peers, a college degree is their biggest aspiration in life as well as the biggest financial challenge. Being "broke" is only part of the bigger story they have to tell. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @santiagoc_17 on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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