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    How Can I Afford College?

    My jaw dropped as my advisor told me how much money I needed for my first year of college.

    "WHAT?" My jaw dropped about 10 feet as I listened to my financial aid advisor tell me how much money I needed to cough up to pay for my first year of college.

    I didn't know how on earth I was going to be able to afford it. So I did the only thing I knew to do…I panicked. Maybe I should find a cheaper college! I reasoned. Or maybe I should just forget about college altogether.

    It took several days for the initial shock to wear off and for me to begin thinking rationally about my options. First I thought about the doubts I'd been having about even going to college. How could I question this decision? Not long before, I had been certain that's what God wanted me to do.

    As for finding a cheaper school, I remembered how things had worked out perfectly so far. Even though I had missed the due date for applications at my college, I had still been accepted. It seemed like God had been providing for me at every turn. So why was I ready to give up so soon?

    With those questions answered, I moved on to the big one, the one that had sent my mind spinning in the first place: How would I ever come up with the money for college? With a clearer mind, I began to check out every possible avenue I could think of to cut my college costs.

    One of my first stops? The Internet. I searched for every grant and scholarship I could possibly qualify for. I knew applying for all of them wouldn't guarantee anything, but every penny counts, so it was worth a try. I also started looking for a part-time job. Both brought in extra cash, and along with a school loan I was able to pay for my first year.

    I'm halfway through college now, and I continue to search for ways to keep my expenses down. But I don't worry like I did at first. God has taught me so much about surrendering everything to him and about trusting in him to provide for my needs. I have to admit, I still get scared sometimes when I take a look at my tuition bills. But then I remember Philippians 4:6:

    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

    God has never left me hanging. He always makes a way. It may not always be the route I'm expecting, but he always comes through. He's used the whole financial aid process to teach me what it means to rely on him—what a great lesson to learn!

    Alyssa is studying English at Western Baptist College in Salem, Oregon.

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