You know what they say about assumptions….. Tuition at Fielding is approximately $17,000 annually. I didn’t include the cost of books and travel in my calculations. Bad assumption. So far, I’ve spent several hundred dollars on books for three courses. I’m lucky that Santa Barbara is only an hour’s drive away, but some of the seminars are in other states. I have a lot of frequent flyer miles to leverage for those trips.
I also assumed I would be consulting 3 – 4 days a week. I have two consulting contracts for independent consulting services. The one with my previous company (Countrywide) has not yielded any engagements due to their financial difficulties. I feel optimistic about the another one, though I’ve been talking with the principals of the company for several weeks now with no engagement in sight.
I faced a day of panic this week when I realized the four months of cash I had set aside to support me and my family until I got consulting work has run out. We will lay off our babysitter/housekeeper next week. That put me into a funk. I also realized that I am starting to use the cash I had set aside to pay the remainder of tuition for this year.
As a high paid executive, I assumed that I could cover my college costs and continue to support my family at a reduced level while in school. WRONG. I need a student loan……
Applying for a student loan as an adult is a different story at age 50 than at age 20. I went to the Federal Student Loan site and completed the application. When they ask for assets and want you to include money in 529 accounts, they don’t ask if the money is for you or your children (it’s for my kids’ college costs). They only ask about your income per 2006 tax return (mega-bucks), not your current income ($0). And though they do ask about your number of dependents, they don’t care about credit card or car loan debt. They don’t care about IRA money, but I had to include my non-IRA investments in the assets listing even though those investments are for retirement too. It was an interesting process. I’m not wanting a subsidized loan, mind you, just a regular student loan that I don’t have to start paying back until I finish my degree :-)
I’m not asking for any pity. I feel very blessed to have the life I have and be in a position to not work for a few months and still maintain my life-style. A modification of life-style will be OK too. Someone the other day was asking me questions about my PhD goal. He asked “what’s the payback?” and I was kinda startled at that question. For me the payoff is living a life of ideas, teaching, speaking and consulting. It’s not about increasing my finances or having a glorious career – I’ve already had that. The payback is connection with people in a way that helps us all to grow.