If You’re Going to San Francisco…State

On Sunday, we visited our son, Ethan, in his San Francisco apartment and that’s cause to rejoice. You see, one month ago, we didn’t know how he was going to pay for tuition and where he was going to live ““ if money and housing could even be found ““ by the time the semester starts on August 25th at San Francisco State.

It retrospect, the college loan process isn’t really all that complicated. While I can’t say I’m looking forward to going through it again next year, at least I now have a much better understanding of how the various loan options that can add up to a year’s worth of tuition and housing.

But at the outset, I felt like a rat entering a maze. The goal was to figure out which of the alphabet soup of loan options would lead to the money prize at the end.

The process started in April when we received notification that Ethan had qualified for a Cal Grant. Yippee! Although it wasn’t gong to be a lot of money, it would certainly cover a few textbooks. Then a second letter arrived telling us that this path for any financial help was in fact a dead end. I guess the operative word in the first letter was “tentatively” awarded a Cal Grant.

Next step: As a Wells Fargo customer, I had high hopes when I filled out a loan application with them over the phone. A nice Utah State student took my information and put me on hold while their computer sized me up. Nope, I wasn’t getting asked to the prom this year. Loan denied.

After a few more (slightly hysterical) fits and starts, the financial aid puzzle started to come together. A subsidized Stafford Loan here, and unsubsidized Stafford loan there, here a loan, there a loan, everywhere a loan, loan”¦and before you know it, Ethan’s got it covered.

But then there was the question of where he was going to live. Ever since Ethan received his acceptance letter, we had assumed he would live on campus. But Steve and Ethan found out at orientation that student housing at SFSU is like Brigadoon. It appears one day every hundred years and then disappears into the San Francisco fog for another hundred years. I guess Ethan missed the application date on that.

This was a bit of a setback but we could be thankful that Ethan wasn’t going to school in Southern California; although it would be inconvenient and expensive with a $6 Golden Gate Bridge toll, he could always live at home and commute to school until something showed up on Craig’s List.

But a fortuitous set of connections led to him ending up in a great apartment in the City. A friend of a co-worker of mine was looking for a roommate for the first semester. It must have been meant to be because the paperwork sailed through and Ethan moved in a week ago.

It all worked out. Amazing.

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