Making It Work as a Mother of Four

 Advice from Demeshia, Class of 2016, California

“I was looking for a career change. I liked the idea of being paired with a mentor to get on-the-job training and receiving both my Master’s and teaching credential in an accelerated time frame.

“I knew the stipend was not enough to cover my cost of living: I have four daughters and my two youngest reside with me. It all felt very uncertain, so I began researching avenues that could assist me financially.

“At the time, I had a full-time position making approximately $55,000 per year. While I was still working, I paid down as many household bills as I could and put away a small amount of money for any future incidentals.

“I relied on financial aid, scholarships and student loans to pay my tuition costs. I applied for the grad PLUS loan, which is determined by your credit, and took out the full amount offered. To stretch my loan money as far as I could, I applied for CalFresh which covered my food costs and participated in the free and reduced lunch program at my children’s school. I contacted my utility companies and applied to their low-income energy assistance programs. I deferred my undergrad loans too.

“It wasn’t always easy. At one point, I had to choose between paying for my utility bill or a CSET exam. I paid my utility bill, then called my mother crying. I had invested so much time and energy into the program and didn’t want to be put out for not having the ability to pay for testing. But the following week, I learned Alder offers financial assistance for exam registration fees. I applied and received an additional amount on my stipend which helped pay for my testing.

“My advice, besides applying for financial aid, is to be open with your family and friends so they’re aware of your situation. My family, especially my mother, and friends were very supportive during the program. Also, utilize your cohort for carpooling to help cut down transportation costs.

“The sacrifices were worth the reward. I learned so much about my views on education and have pushed myself out of my comfort zone. And my daughters are very proud of me.”