Across the United States, college tuition rates are rising at an average rate of 8 percent per year.

Here at UTSA we experienced a 4.52 percet increase from the 2010-2011 school year to this school year 2011-2012.

There is or seems to be an inverse relationship between tuition rates and job opportunities. Unfortunately for students, acquiring a degree is a vital step in securing one of those few jobs.

Our lives as students could be looked at as a maze. We have a starting point and an ending point and somehow we must figure out where to turn without getting stopped.

One of the most important turns in every student’s maze is how to pay for school, while incurring as little debt as possible before graduation.

After filling out the FASFA and applying for scholarships, students are left with a balance. Many of us will avoid debt as much as possible, and that leaves us trying to find a job to help out.

Students face the harsh reality that jobs are scarce, and many college graduates already have to settle for jobs fit for a current college student. These unfortunate circumstances have left us in the position where we must become creative in finding ways to pay for college.

Two of our very own Roadrunners have figured out that earning money to pay off their tuition is doable, but that they must think outside the box. Senior English major Caitlin Parra has started dog walking to earn money to pay for college.

“I started looking on craigslist for a job,” stated Parra, “when I found an ad looking for a dog walker. I’ve always enjoyed being around animals and with dog walking; I get to be outside, active and be with animals. So it was a win win for me.”

Like most of us, Parra has other obligations to take care of, so she is able to go to school. Parra has to pay rent, for an apartment and buy gas so she can commute back and forth to campus.

“Paying for school is stressful. Yes, I have help from financial aid and my parents, but I still pay for some of my education”, Parra says,

“It can give me anxiety sometimes when I think about how much money I am forking over just to get a degree. I plan on dog walking as long as I can. I love it.”

Just like Parra, Jonathan Moul, a junior majoring in criminal justice, has found a unique way to pay for college. You have probably seen his flyers around campus, he is a member in the band The Lion Lads. Before joining the band, Moul was a solo artist for two years, and, before that, he was in a different band. His musical background has become his means for paying for school.

“Playing music helps bring in some extra cash around tuition payment time for sure,” Moul says. “The money I receive from playing a show is not a lot, but every little penny helps.” Moul can be found playing at open mics around town, acoustic coffeehouse shows and even here in the University Center Ski Lodge.

Moul admits that playing music isn’t the steadiest form of income. “There was a short time when I wasn’t sure my music would be enough for me to pay my way anymore. To be perfectly honest, I began wondering how much money I could get if I started to sell my instruments, which is a very sad time for a musician.”

Even though there is uncertainty at times, Moul’s love for the music outweighs the stress of finances, “I love being in my band, and if I wasn’t in this band, I am sure I would be in a different band.”

Many students can relate to the pressures Parra and Moul feel daily when it comes to financially supporting themselves. But these two students have found a way to make this stress an opportunity to be involved in what they love to do.

College can and will have its down moments, but if you think outside the box and remind yourself how vital this step is in your life, you can find a way not only to get through school but also enjoy it.

Jobs may not be abundant right now, but falling into debt doesn’t have to be the only way out.

 

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