Saturday, August 6, 2011


For a blog titled "Quarter Life Crisis," I never actually talk about crises.  Maybe I thought that if I talked about crises I'd be opening up a whole new can of worms on my personal life that my readers may not enjoy reading; these are no longer the days of Xanga and LiveJournal.  However, one of the reasons why I wanted to create this blog was to let other 20-somethings know that there are others who feel like they're going through a quarter life crisis as well, which underneath all of the baking and running sometimes it still feels like I am.

I've learned two lessons in the past few weeks.  The first one is:

Make sure you know what you're doing when you're filling out your FAFSA.

I needed to get a loan to pay for college next year, so I filled out my FAFSA to see if I could qualify for some financial aid or a loan with low interest.  When I got to the dependency page, I was confused as to which option I should put down.  My family already paid for me to go to college, so this time around it is my turn to pick up the tab.  Therefore, wouldn't that make me an independent?  However, I still live at home with my parents and my father claims me as a dependent on his taxes, therefore shouldn't I be a dependent on my FAFSA form?  I decided to go ahead a click "dependent" since that's what it says on my father's taxes and figured I could go back and change it on the questions later.  So then I answered a series of questions along the lines of "are you an orphan?" "are you homeless?" "are your parents unemployed?" each of which I marked "no."  I had to fill in my parents' financial information and a few weeks later I heard back from Stafford and learned that I got an unsubsidized loan for about $7000, which got reduced to $5000 once my college learned I was in a post-baccalaureate program and I was not technically an undergraduate.  That wasn't even going to cover 1/3 of my expenses for the year, so I declined it and tried to see what other loans I could get.  Along the way, I had learned that my friends got all of their expenses covered by loans and some even got federal grants.  They were all paying for school themselves, like I was, going to public colleges, like I am, and all from family backgrounds similar to my own.  So how come they were getting so much more than me?

Well it turns out that regardless of taxes, if you're paying for college yourself, you're an independent.  If I had put that and the state saw my meager income, I could certainly have been eligible for more money.  I tried calling FAFSA, and they referred back to those questions where they determined the state of my dependency based on if I was an orphan or not and told me that since I answered all of those questions as "no" I was not an independent.  Well then, why were all of my friends independents?  They couldn't answer that for me, so I gave up and applied for other loans.  A few weeks wrought with apprehension later, I was approved for a SallieMae loan once I cosigned with my father.  The funds will be disbursed and I'll just have to make up the difference.  Luckily, I can make up the difference using a tuition payment plan so I won't have to put a ton of money down at once, which brings me to my next point...

Second lesson: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Since graduating from college, I lost my dental care.  I've been putting off going to the dentist for a while because I didn't want to pay full price, I was busy, my teeth weren't bothering me, etc etc.  I've been following deals on Groupon and finally found one where I could pay $56 for a check up, cleaning, and x rays with a dentist.  Perfect!  I bought it and went to the dentist and honestly really did enjoy my visit until the dentist told me that I had two cavities and needed a periodontal scaling (a deep clean beneath the gum line that you need Novocain for).  I was staring at 3 or 4 days worth of procedures and $1400 in fees.  I went home to think about it and look at my options and got a chance to talk to my friend (who I made the sorbet for the other week) who works for a dentist.  She thought it was crazy that they wanted to do that procedure on me since it's usually for people who are much older than me with really severe cases of gum disease.  She told me I could send the x rays to her practice and the dentist would look at them for me.  Perfect!  Except the other dentist wanted to charge me $150 to release my x rays.  Seriously?  I could not catch a freaking break.  I went ahead and just paid for it because it would cost about that much to get my x rays taken at the place where my friend works.  And I'm glad I did; she called me back a few hours later and said her boss said I definitely needed a cleaning, but with proper care of my teeth and gums they should go back to their original gum disease-free state.  I went back to get my cavities filled earlier this week and will go back one last time to get that cleaning I signed up for so long ago.  I really do have to say that I like the facility, and if I had insurance I would definitely go there.  I was nervous about getting my cavities filled because I had never had that done before, but luckily the cavities were caught early enough so they were relatively small, therefore I didn't need Novocain or anything.  I couldn't feel a thing and the doctor had me all patched up in about 15 minutes.  And you can't see a thing!  No pain, nothing.  Needless to say, I was very very relieved.

So moral of the story, take care of your teeth.  I went out and bought a water pick and some original strength Listerine and added that to my brushing routine every night.  The water pick works well, although the first few times I used it was quite entertaining.  I was hunched over the sink, not sure if I was getting the water pick in the right spots, and whenever I went to look up at the mirror I sprayed water everywhere.  I've even squirted myself in the eye more than once.  It'll take some getting used to that's for sure.

The lessons learned here are don't be afraid to call your school a million times asking them for help and advice when it comes to something like your tuition.  They're there to help you so definitely take advantage of that.  Once I realized that and began calling my school about every day with questions, the people at my college were very helpful, and the woman in the bursar's office even made a phone call and got me signed up for a tuition payment plan right then and there when if I did it on my own it would have taken 2 or 3 days.  And just adding a couple more things to your nightly routine can do wonders on your teeth.  Now that I'm taking better care of my teeth, I'm hoping to avoid any more surprise expenses.  It's amazing how quickly a $60 trip to the dentist can end up costing 10 times that much.

I think this was also why it was so hard for me to leave Wildwood this past weekend.  It was such a nice escape from all of this and I loved being able to be back with my friends and not having to think about any real-world drama.  Oh well, crises averted, for now.

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