An Emergency Fund…you know, I had the best intentions of having one. You can even read earlier posts if you don’t believe me. I had reasonable budgets drawn up and had resigned myself to the student loans necessary for tuition now that my 4-year scholarships are up. I had it made in the shade so to speak. I had even looked at cutting my work week (at one of my jobs) down to 15 hours from 20 because I was taking more classes than usual. I had started getting my financial ducks in line.
[Background: In the states, you apply for financial aid through something called FAFSA. It has your (or your parents') income, general info, etc on it and determines whether you are eligible for need-based aid or just regular loans]. Mine is generally filed by my mother, but it was filed a few months late (another story for some other time). I got a confirmation email Monday stating it had been sent to my school, so I should be expecting some sort of offer. I knew the loan amount I needed and since it was not need based, I knew I would be eligible. Day 1: No info, Day 2: No info, … Today: No info. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I started looking under every single tab. This is my 12th semester here [I did a lot of summer school], so I know what I’m doing by now. Under an arbitrary tab I’ve never seen before, it says “Form Required: Grade/Loan Appeal.” There is no link, no further information. To Google! So I find out that I am not making “satisfactory academic progress” (More Backstory: Fall ’10 was a rough semester for me. A lot of family tragedy and bad grades). Now, more context: I am 3, that’s right, 3 classes away from completing my math degree. So I have to fill out an appeal. I look all over the site for the form, and it is nowhere to be found. Then I find a single line that says it was mailed to me.
Why am I not happy about that? Well, for one thing, if it was sent, it was sent to my campus address (I haven’t been on campus since May, Canada remember). It wasn’t sent to my home address (so my parents couldn’t give me a heads up), and under that single line it says: Please mail back within 3 weeks of receiving. I have NO idea of when it was sent. The time-stamp under the tab was 8/2/11, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t mean anything. So why am I really unhappy about this, and what does it have to do with an Emergency Fund? (I swear it’s not just mindless ranting!!!)
I deferred payment waiting for my loan offer, so I owe $473.66 by the 11th of August (not a big deal, I can handle that); however, I owe $1171.66 x 3 [due October 1st, November 1st, & December 1st]. My income is not large enough to be able to pay this without loans. I can’t. I’m not being pessimistic, I’m being realistic. I make $7.50 an hour and can work a maximum of 20 hours a week. I have another job based solely on commission, and donating plasma will get you around $50 a week. I have a starting amount of $1145. I have no fear about my appeal not getting accepted (I have a good reason and proof that my grades improved by leaps & bounds), but it’s a matter of how long will it take:
- For the appeal to be approved
- For the appeal to process
- For the loan offer to process
- For the amount accepted to process
- For that amount to get sent to the school
So I am crossing my fingers that it would be taken care of by November 1st (or I’m SOL anyway). And so, this means I need to make sure I have at least $1171.66 on October 1st (unless it processes before then, then it’s just moot). Oh, and I have to buy textbooks & eat during this time, and buy my prescriptions, oh and pay for gas. So, this means a very tight budget.
The end all, be all point is that it wouldn’t be as big of a deal if I had an Emergency Fund or any amount of savings. I am going to have to scrimp, save, sell my body, & be very uncomfortable to guarantee to myself that I can pay for school at least through October 1st (I imagine if my appeal is approved, everything will process by then). If I had an emergency fund, my food budget for August & September wouldn’t be under $100, I wouldn’t have to sell plasma, and I probably wouldn’t be as frustrated. I know, when this is over, I really will pay myself first (a common PF thought) and have an EF. If you don’t have one, I suggest working on it. You never know when you’re going to need it (I guess that’s why it’s an emergency fund ha ha).