These high school students were afraid to dream bigger. A Stanford class is changing that.
Like a lot of kids in the country today, Michael and I used to worry about having a decent education. My parents didn’t want to send their kids anywhere where the cost of tuition was more than we made in a year, so back when I was a high school senior they sent me to a local church-run school, the Northside Christian Academy in San Jose, Calif.
That’s where Michael went.
It wasn’t as though we had a lot of options. Our small town had just a handful of private, all-black colleges. The only state college Michael had some chance of getting into was at Stanford. I was a high school junior. Even then, I could foresee my dad paying a lot of bills by then. That was bad enough.
But if I was going to go to college, I needed somewhere he could pay for more than just me. When Michael was a freshman in high school there were three private schools in our town, including one that was all boys: Santa Clara University-owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon Church.
In fact, the Mormon Church at that time was one of the biggest proponents of giving every student a college education, which meant taking out a school loan to pay for it.
So our parents, like many Americans, were afraid to send us to college.
A couple of years after high school, just before he turned 18, he took out his first government school loan, a $1,200 loan from the Community Development block grant program.
It was a sweet deal: We could get more than $4,000 from that one loan, with 20 years of payments after that.
That’s $1,200 for every year of college we’d need to pay back.
But Michael made good on the loan almost immediately.
“I never had any doubt of my ability to pay it back,” Michael said. “I knew if I put any effort into it, I might be able to earn money at least to pay it back.”
That’s all we knew about our student loan options as we were finishing up a term paper about the state