College Money Chronicles

Apr. 15, 2018

4 things Beyoncé taught me about college and College Money during her Coachella Performance

1. Believe you can do whatever you want! Beyoncé's parents were working class from Houston. They believed in her and she in turn believed in herself. They weren't rich but they built the foundation for her empire. You don't need a fortune to set yourself apart. You don't even need approval from others. What you do need is the mindset that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

2. You Create your Expertise. Practice. Read. Study. Watch videos. Rehearse. Train. This builds an expert. Beyoncé is an AMAZING performer but is also a very hardworker She consistently and systematically out works herself to become better. The same principle holds true to every area of life especially for families looking for money for College. It is not enough to forward a scholarship link yo your child and expect them yo complete it. It is not enough for you to just do the FAFSA and hope for the best. Getting money for College takes HARD WORK and creativity. You can be the expert. You just have to work for it.

3. Pay Homage. Bey paid homage to those who came before her. Her NOLA roots, Hbcus, marching bands, D9, Queen Nefertiti... My goodness.. there are places in our past that we can seek guidance from and benefit from the strength in our past. When trying to find places to look for College Money take a look backwards. Look at your lineage and heritage. There may be some untapped connections that can lead you in a direction that you may not have before considered.

4. Use Your Village. Beyoncé has always had a team. Her parents, family, Destiny's Child, hubby. She brought member of her team with her to perform last night symbolizing that it takes more than one person to build an empire. Same rings true for us. Money for College is a team effort. Parents have a part to do as well as kids. It's a team effort.

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Feb. 10, 2018

I was 18 years old, brand new on the campus of Temple University. It was a new world for me. Though I was still dependent I was going into a largely independent world. I didn't really have much of a care in the world at that time, but I did know that college cost money and money that my family didn't necessarily have to spend. I felt the need to take some financial responsibility. I started working at the age of 14. I worked through all my years in high school and into the summer after graduation. Since I was a local college student (I'm from Philly and Temple is in my town) I decided to secure employment somewhere in the city while I attended college. I lived on campus and worked not one but two jobs during my first year in school. I always had a strong work ethic and enjoyed the chase of getting a job. Interviewing, writing a resume, filling out an application, doing everything I needed to do to prove that I was the right employee for the job. Working was something that came second nature to me. However working while a college student dealing with rigorous academics, a new schedule and brand new independence deemed to be rather challenging. Many times I would work late into the night resulting in my oversleeping for an 8 a.m. class. I worked as a cashier at Cheltenham Mall which was a few miles away from school. I remember catching the "C" bus back down Broad Street to my dorm sometimes 10/11 o'clock at night. I also worked as a clerical and teaching assistant at a local charter school most afternoons. I really enjoyed this work as it was akin to my passion. I was making money to help with college expenses: tuition, fees things that my parents didn't necessarily have to worry about and it fueled my independence. With the increased working hours came it's own set of issues.

I worked more than I attended classes at some points. I was working 40 hour weeks. I woukd moss my morning classes and wake up just to go to work at the cgarter the aftenoons, then hop on the sub to go to my evening job at te mall. At times I spent the money that I was supposed to be using for my college expenses on frivolous things. Still made time for my friends though. I overslept often. I worked alot. I partied. I didn't study. I was the epitome of a non-academic person living in a dorm on Temple's campus. I valued my jobs so much more than I valued school and that was almost my downfall.

Yes being able to balance school with some sense of responsibility is admirable and skills that many teens should seek to have.  But my focus was off. I was in college to learn, not just work and live. It took a long time for me to be able to juggle a healthy school-work balance.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because each day I encounter students who say things like "I'm going to work while I'm in college." Or they say, "I have a part time job in high school it won't be much different in college." I am here to tell you that the academic workload in college is much heavier than it is in high school. Many hours will need to be devoted studying or homework in order to be a successful college student. Now am I saying not to work in college? Not exactly. That is a personal choice. What I am saying are three things:

1. Remember why you are going to college in the first place. College is school. You are there to learn. You are there to earn a degree.

2. Work should not come before your academics. If you need to work more hours in order to stay in and pay for school you need to reevaluate your entire college situation. Start seeking financial assistance (visit financial aid office, scholarship applications, transfer to cheaper school, housing or meal reduction, join school orgs that grant scholarships, take advantage of work study, become an RA)

3. Evaluate whether you are working for a need or a want. Is it absolutely necessary for you to hold a job while in college? For some people the answer is yes for most people the answer is no. And if the answer is yes how much money do you really NEED to get by?

I wish I would have evaluated my need prior to working so much as a freshman in college. I am happy to say that I overcame and though I worked all 5 (yes 5) years of college I found a way to balance work and school so that I graduated. Even made the dean's list a few times!

You can do both it just won't be easy.


Jan. 25, 2018

I gave my seniors an assignment today to gauge how serious they are about getting money for college. The fact of the matter is, as a counselor/teacher I see how important it is for students to apply themselves throughout this college money process. I also understand how overwhelming the college process can be for a teen. The assignment asked them to read and take notes on three financial aid articles. I find pretty good articles online about ways to finance a college eucation. After reading the articles I asked them to do the following:

Write an essay of at least 500 words describing how you plan to completely finance your college education for the next 4+ years. Use commentary and insight from the three articles you read in class today. Please answer the following questions within your essay:

  • What is a common theme among the 3 articles?
  • What are some steps you can take to reduce college costs?
  • Why are local scholarships important? How do you find them?
  • How can your senior project community service hours benefit you when looking for scholarships?
  • Give at least one personal example of how these articles can apply to your personal college financing journey.

For me it is important to see how badly the student want to finance their college education. While they completed the assignment I watched them. I wanted to see who would take it seriously. Happy to report that all, but 3 really took the time to complete it throughly. When I read through the essays there were some really insightful responses. My effort matches theirs during this process. I sit at my computer day in and day out sending out materials to scholarship organizations in hopes of my kids landing some college dollars. But I can't do it alone. I think it was key for the students reflect on their own desire to finance college. So often the parent is pressing the child to apply to scholarships, but there has to be an intrinsic motivation. 

My final thought to the youth... just keep pushing forward. The scholarship game is no joke but with continuous work and dedication you'd be surprised what can come your way. 

Nov. 24, 2017

Financial Freedom is something that we hear a lot as adults. Getting free from any type of debt whether it be credit card debt, student loan debt, anything that we owe to someone else. Once you become parents a lot of people want to bestow a sense of financial freedom or at least a strong financial foundation for their children. But with lack of education or poor money habits some parents don't know how to do just that. A little piece of advice from Dana Martin College.


It is not a sprint it is a marathon and learning about money takes time effort and habit forming.

Be clear on where you stand financially. It could be a very pretty picture or a ugly sight, but knowing where you stand gives you the best foundation so that you know where you need to go from there.


For all of my parents that want to send their kids to college put together a college money plan. Learn about savings options. Learn about college savings investment plans. Learn about early scholarships. Learn about tips and tricks to get your child ahead of the game as early as possible. Children tend to perform better academically if they know they have some money set aside for college.

I get it. We are trying to live our lives and clean up debt and save as much money as possible so that we can live the life we always dreamed. At the same time we are rearing children who are just beginning their dreams and we want to be as big of a support as we possibly can. The best thing that we can do for our kids is to become financially stable and set a great financial foundation and example for them. If possible also providing a financial path for them to afford the college of their dreams (if that is their choice).

Let's talk about it! Tell me what you think below 👇


Oct. 15, 2017

I believe in putting in work for what you want. Always have and probably always will. Not many things in this life are given to you. At least that's the case for most people. When it comes to a college education many parents feel like they have to take the entire burden of the cost unto their own shoulders. Some students also feel like they shouldn't have to worry about how college will be paid for. The fact of the matter is a college education is a choice. Unlike primary and secondary school it is not required for a student to complete this level of education. Within our American society, however it is still a much desired choice. My belief in working for what you want sees no difference when trying to fund a college education. If a student wants a college education they should put forth some effort toward securing the finances for it. Of course the way to do that can vary depending on family circumstances, so here are a few ways for students to take a front seat in finding money for college:


1. Develop a Scholarship Plan

It's not just about applying for scholarships; you need to do more. In some circles it seems as if the words 'college' and 'scholarships' are synonymous because the two are spoken so frequently together. People throw the word scholarship around without thinking about the level of work it takes to actually secure this type of funding.

Where do scholarships come from? 

Where do you get applications? 

How do I apply? Am I eligible? 

How much is the scholarship worth? 

How many years will I received this scholarship if I win it? 

Will this scholarship be enough? 

These questions (and many more) surround the scholarship phenomena. It's not as simple as putting in a few applications. A student must do research and develop a plan for applying to scholarships. A sound plan should include:

Differentiating between local and national scholarships. 

Crafting a well-written essay that that can be used for multiple scholarship applications.

Applying to enough scholarships to cover 3 times your needed gap

Staying organized!

It is just not enough to say that you are going to apply to scholarships without putting in the legwork. Researching eligibility requirements and all pertinent information needed to apply is a big part of the process. 



 2. Develop a Realistic Savings Plan

A common misconception among many teens is their ability to save money. Getting a part-time job during the school year and/or a job over the summer is a great accomplishment that can show strong time management skills and the ability to juggle scholastics while employed. A mistake many students make however is thinking they can save a substantial amount of money to put towards their college bill. Yes it is possible. Many things are possible, but unless someone has a plan and financial wherewithal then it can be rather difficult for an untrained individual to save a large sum of money. My suggestion would be to develop a clear savings plan.

  1. Set a small goal and attach it to a college themed item. Example "I would like to save $500 by August 15th to buy my books for first semester. I will deposit $50 every two weeks from my paycheck from my job into my bank account beginning March 2017." By setting a clear, specific, measurable goal a student can clearly see exactly what is needed to reach their goal. 


These small tips can lay the groundwork for the student to put forth a meaningful effort to contribute to their college costs. It's not always a large sum of money, but a strong effort that can help to reach the ultimate goal of paying for college. Am I saying that parents should not help with paying for college? No I am not. I am saying that all parties should recognize that a college education is an investment into a student's future. The student should be willing to do whatever is within their power to ensure that they are financially able to get that education. Work for what you want. 


For more unconventional ways to find money for college check out my book Creatively Closing the Gap available online now at!