Illustration by Keith Negley Illustration by Keith Negley. Photos by Nick Onken and Mike Siegel.
How Real Students Pay for College

Attention! Captain Obvious would like to say that a college degree is not cheap.

Oh, and here’s another shocker: The sticker price of private education is higher than public education. But before you start to sweat, chew on this morsel of encouragement. The average financial aid package at a private university is also higher — much higher. For instance, Seattle Pacific University’s average need-based award package for this year was above $23,000. That means a private university education could well be within your reach.

So don’t just sit around and hope that the Education Fairy will write you a check. There are things you can do to make college affordable. Get a job in high school and save. Look and apply for as many scholarships as you can. Meet all admission and financial aid deadlines, so that your favorite universities can offer you the best aid possible. Work while you’re a university student — and apply for more scholarships (see a pattern?).

Or, be so amazing that people beg to pay for your education. It could happen.

We found four students who are financing their education in a variety of ways. Read their stories and see what they’ve learned. Then create your own path. And, wherever you choose to attend college, appreciate the luxury of learning.

Erika Hultz
Erika Hultz
One way Erika helps pay for SPU is by working at Sylvan Learning Center; setting up tutoring sessions and playing games with children during breaks. Read More
Dan Price
Dan Price
Since high school, Dan wanted to pay for his own college education. Now, as the CEO of a local company, he’s almost done that. Read More
Dan Price
Olivia Lenz
Thanks to her NASA scholarship, Olivia — pictured at the Museum of Flight in Seattle — is getting ready for a 10-week paid ($6,000) internship at NASA’s Ames Center. Read More
Dan Price
Rodelio Doria
Sophomore Rodelio starts work at 4:45 a.m. at a local gym. “I’m surprised that I have energy that early," he says “I think it’s the people. my job is a lot like making friends.” Read More



By Julia Siemens, Illustration by Keith Negley, Photos By Nick Onken and Mike Siegel
Want more stories about Real Life at SPU? Look in our archives.