Love, Pride, and Money

“Your application for financial aid has been denied”. I start school in 23 days. 3 days ago, my financial aid application was denied for the second time. This happened immediately after my last ‘I could so easily freak out right now’ post. Let the freak out begin. My husband and I have been very blessed. I am endlessly thankful for the life we have. However, we are not even close to being blessed enough to be able to afford losing my income, moving me to a tropical island, and paying for school. We can barely afford the ‘losing my income’ part. I couldn’t even begin to fathom what that kind of blessed would be like! So we, like the majority of soon-to-be medical students, applied for student loans. Technically, I applied. Don applied as my co-signer. We were swiftly and unapologetically rejected. Damn banking websites and their lack of remorse.

Now, admittedly one of the challenges that I was aware of when I started this journey was that getting financing to go to an off-shore school could be tricky. St. Matthews told me during the interview process that they had an American Lender that they worked with and that their students had not struggled to get financing. Excellent, I love a good, false sense of security. Our credit is ok, we own a home, our debt is pretty much limited to our mortgage, undergraduate student loans, and some minor credit card debt. However, we did just move across the country. For the last 2 months we have paid both the mortgage and rent (thank goodness we have renters moving in this weekend!); we are currently broke and the last couple of months we have made some choices and have some dings on our report as a result. Are they bad enough that we seem financially unreliable – I certainly don’t think so but my opinions about our awesomeness will get me no-where. So what do we do?

Choices. There are always choices. Don explored some Sallie Mae plans for off shore schools – St. Matthew’s doesn’t qualify. We can try to call the lenders that denied us to see if they have other suggestions. We could try to find a more creditworthy co-signer – Don suggested his parents which gave me anxiety and led me to a panicky, childish, shame spiral. On the more radical end, I could just not go – in which case this blog is taking a very weird left turn and I am going to need to re-name it.

On my days off this week, I had a billion things to do (see prior post about freaking out). After a day of running around getting paperwork completed and mailed followed by a day of manual labor – painting, grouting, and otherwise getting the house ready for the renters,  I decided that I needed to relax! I wanted to see my in-laws while I was in town and a glass of wine with the view from their back porch sounded like exactly what I needed. My in-laws are amazing people. Their goal in life is to be surrounded by love and family. Having people around makes them happy. They are excellent hosts and I adore spending time with them.

Once I was comfortably settled with a drink in my hand, some chips and salsa in front of me, and Bubba, the world’s most loveable lab resting his chin on my arm, we started to talk. They had talked to Don and knew that the move had stretched us thin. They let me tell them on my own that we had been denied for loans and I wasn’t sure we could make it work but that we were looking for options. They were sweet and understanding while I expressed my confusion regarding our current situation. When I was finished laying my emotional and financial chaos all over the table, my mother in law asked if they could help. She told me that they were always happy to help but that we needed to tell them what was going on so they knew how. They were happy to co-sign for our loans or help however they could on our journey.

I have never been very good at asking for help or even taking it when unsolicited. It makes me uneasy having to depend on other people. I used to consider my determined independence one of my strongest assets. As I get older, I have learned that while it is one of my strengths, unbridled, it can also be a bit of a flaw. Our family was offering me their help and all I could say was, “I feel bad”. Dad looked directly at me and said, “You should feel bad” (Oh good, you think so too!) “You should feel bad. You SHOULD want to make it on your own. And, when you have tried your hardest and still can’t, you ask for help.” Dad told me they had been there. They had moved across the country for a great promotion and had struggled to buy groceries at first as a result. They had asked for and received help along the way because it was the best thing for their future and the future of their family. Their family had invested in them and they wanted to invest in us…in me; because it is a good investment. Did I mention how much I love them?

The second part of this conversation involved letting go of what was not important (self, are you listening? Put the control issues DOWN). Mom and Dad reminded me of Tithe. Tithe is when you give a percentage of your income to the church every month. Years ago, with newly found faith, the pastor at their church had suggested tithe to them. Sensing my FIL’s hesitation, the pastor told him that if after 6 months, he had not been blessed in so many other ways; he would give all of his money back. Sweet!  A guarantee! What he ended up realizing was the when he gave up control and (in the sense of tithe literally) gave it up to God, things just tend to work out…and work out for the better.

So here I am. Considering my options, attempting to let go and figure out what else needs to be done and what help I need to keep going. It is great to know that I have support and that a strong co-signer is standing by, waiting to “invest” if that’s the choice Don and I make (because regardless of my overuse of the word I here, this really is a WE choice). Despite all of the stress and uncertainty in this process, I am feeling so much love and support from both of our families and that not only makes me feel incredibly blessed but less anxious than I have in weeks. Its gonna work out.

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