How I Paid for College: Barnard College Alum Naomi T.

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

Does Barnard give good financial aid?  Here's how Barnard College financial aid helped student Naomi T. in paying for college.


Forget just a penny for your thoughts: Thousands of words saved thousands of dollars for recent Barnard College graduate Naomi T., a Gates Millennium scholar.


“It was pretty intense,” Naomi said of the scholarship application. “I had to write nine or 10 one-thousand word essays and get recommendations.”


Naomi knew without asking that financial aid would be key in her college career.


“My parents were not able to support me at all,” she said. “There wasn’t really a conversation; it was more of an understanding.” She has a much older sibling who had already gone through the college application and financial aid process, so she knew the bulk of the expense of paying for college would be on her shoulders. But even though she worked in high school, the money she made wasn’t specifically funneled to college.

“I didn’t have a college savings [account],” she said.


When applying for colleges—including several University of California campuses in addition to private schools—Naomi targeted colleges and universities that specifically discussed their commitment to meeting financial need on their websites. She was also able to submit to Common App member colleges for free thanks to the fee waiver system.


Naomi also picked the brains of several graduates of her own high school, including one who introduced her to the scholarship that eventually paid for her four-year degree.


“I knew someone in my high school who had gotten that [Gates Millennium scholarship] before and that paid for four years of undergrad,” she said. The scholarships focus on increasing the representation of low-income minority students at colleges nationwide.


"I think I have less than $4,000 [in student loans], which is amazing, and I realize that's really rare,” she said. That’s despite a few bumps in the road when Barnard asked for more than her family could afford.


Her first appeal to the Barnard financial aid office didn’t change her package, but she persisted and eventually got a meeting with a financial aid counselor who was able to adjust her package.


Between that adjustment and the scholarship, she said she only had to take out student loans for “the little things” or when she had a semester with fewer hours at work.


Having a financial cushion gives Naomi some freedom to explore different career options.


“I think it definitely impacted what I majored in,” said Naomi, who majored in Africana Studies and minored in economics. “I'm interested in the music industry not as an artist, but as someone interested in the business side.”


Naomi is currently interning and working various service industry jobs as she looks for business development or account management career opportunities.


“I am privileged in the sense that I do not have to immediately worry about paying off thousands and thousands of loans,” she said. “I don't want to, but I can afford to not make a ton of money.” 


Find your good fit colleges with Edmit's college comparison tool! 


Photo by Patrick Nelson on Flickr.

Edmit's advice helps you to be better off after graduation.

Merit and financial aid estimates based on your student profile

Earnings estimates and financial scores for your college and major

Recommendations to save thousands on college

I'm ready

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* Cost of College* paying for college financial aid FAFSA Student Loans* grants and scholarships Saving for College* federal student loans college tuition 529 plan cost of attendance expected family contribution Salary and Career* college financial planning financial aid award private student loans taxes college savings plan room and board on-campus housing merit scholarships budgeting for college college expenses federal financial aid merit-based financial aid private universities public universities edmit hidden gems college costs edmit team parent PLUS loan college applications living expenses CSS profile education expenses financial need income application fees financial aid appeal off-campus housing career choosing a college choosing a major college majors loan forgiveness affordable college degree programs loan repayment repayment plans student loan assistance student loan debt work-study application fee waivers college search coronavirus edmit scholarship institutional aid net price SAT college visits in-state tuition prepaid tuition plans private scholarships ACT budget free tuition international students internships need-based financial aid need-blind colleges qualified higher education expenses retirement savings southern colleges standardized testing tuition discount tuition guarantee tuition payment plans 401k UGMA UTMA applying to college college financial health college ranking systems college spending college transfers credit score discretionary income distance learning education savings accounts fees financial literacy full ride scholarship gap year grants health insurance options investment ivy league schools liberal arts degree meal plans midwestern colleges need-aware colleges out-of-state tuition saving school-based scholarships state aid tuition increases western colleges 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college credits college deposit college viability community college concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding dorms early decision educational expenses esports fee waivers financial wellness for-profit universities fraternities and sororities full tuition graduate school home equity loan income share agreements line of credit lists medical expenses medical school military benefits net price calculators new england colleges non-profit universities online learning online tuition out-of-state students percent need met private college consultant remote learning small business state schools student bank accounts student organizations subsidized loans title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition insurance tuition reciprocity undocumented students unsubsidized loans