Someday I’ll Learn to Read the Fine Print

- - Budgeting, Money Mindset


This week was a rough one for me. As many of you know, I’ve been taking classes towards getting my master’s degree in web design. I took two classes last semester, and was getting ready to start my third this semester.

I was registered, already ordered my books and class was going to start on Tuesday night for me.

Last week I had received an email from the university letting me know my financial aid was going to be dispersed into my account during the second week of classes, after the drop/add period was over.

While reading this e-mail, I clicked on the link to double-check my financial aid amounts were correct for the 20th time (I was a bit neurotic about it). I was clicking around the page and got to the “fine print” area, which I had not seen before.

You would think I would have learned to read the fine print from my student loan fiasco. 

Anyways, I am going through everything and I see a part that says “this grant only applies to student who are enrolled at least halftime.”

I was only enrolled for one class. I could’t afford two classes. Hell, I couldn’t even afford the one if it weren’t for my financial aid.

This meant that $1500 grant I was counting on wasn’t going to be given to me.

I frantically e-mailed the financial aid office to double check and make sure I wasn’t reading this incorrectly.

They finally got back to me on Monday and confirmed that this grant would not apply if I was only enrolled in one class.



My job pays $5250 each year towards school as long as it applies to your current job, or one that is at least semi-related to your department. That’s definitely an awesome thing for them to do, and I’m lucky to be working for a company that does this.

Last semester I took two courses and was only planning on taking one this fall. I had about $1000 left to use for this upcoming semester, so I had saved up $800 to cover the remainder of the bill for this time around.

About two months ago I had gotten a message saying I was approved for a $3000 grant, half of which could be used for spring and half for fall.

I was ecstatic! This meant I didn’t have to pay for anything out of pocket for fall semester. I read through everything I saw and couldn’t find any reason this wouldn’t apply.

So what did I do? I put the $800 I had been saving towards my student loans. I already had my emergency fund set up, so holding on to an extra $800 was pointless for me. I thought I was getting ahead of the game, and I guess in some ways I was.


Trying To Be Smart About It

Once I got the email back from the financial aid office, I realized this was not going to play out the way I had thought it would.

I do have about $1000 as an emergency fund saved up, but this doesn’t really qualify as an emergency. I didn’t get sick, my car didn’t break down, and I didn’t need to pay for this in order for life to continue.

I can’t have a blog about being smart with your money and financially healthy, and then go off and blow my emergency fund on a “non-emergency” because I had made a stupid mistake.

So…  had to withdraw from my class. It wasn’t easy. I was thrilled about taking this next course and had already purchased the books. In addition, since I skipped summer and am now skipping fall semester, I’m going to have to reapply.

But I had to do it.

My journey towards a masters degree will continue in the spring, when I have a fresh $5250 to spend and a $1500 grant since I will be taking two classes.

I thought it was important to share this with you to show you that I’m not perfect by any means. But I have to stay on track, even if this is something I really want, the right time will come for it.

I realize that life isn’t a perfect journey, but in the end…it’s your journey, and it’s how you live it that makes it uniquely yours.

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I am Chenell Tull and so far, I've had a pretty rough time with my student loan debt. Recently, I've figured out a more productive "get out of debt" plan and the goal is to pay off over $60k in just 36 months. If you want to learn more, subscribe to the mailing list and get FREE updates on my successes and failures on this journey out of debt.