Friday, June 10, 2011

How one Hispanic family overcame financial obstacles to get a college education

Saida Luciano-Ross is a 49-year-old, full-time working professional. Like many of our working adult students, Saida has three children, two of whom are in college. Going back to school herself is probably one of the last things you'd think she'd be able to do, especially at a time when tuition continues to rise and taking classes while balancing work and family sounds unwieldy.

But guess again. Saida is making it happen! She earned her bachelor's degree in business administration last May through Post University's Accelerated Degree Program, and is now working towards her MBA, also from Post University.

She was able to afford to complete her bachelor's degree thanks to a Pell Grant she received. And now that she's a Post University employee, she's taking advantage of the university's substantial tuition reimbursement program to earn her MBA. (She's our Evaluation and Matriculation Coordinator.)

Her full story was recently told by Russell Wild in this AARP article. As a fellow adult learner of Puerto Rican descent, I appreciate this coverage of Saida's journey. After becoming the first member of my family to graduate from college, I earned my master's degree in business management as a working adult.

I think I speak for both Saida and myself when I say we're very proud and excited to be part of the growing number of Hispanics getting college degrees. Despite the rising cost of college, Latinos, along with Asians and Pacific Islanders, have the fastest rate of increase in enrollment of all ethnic groups over the past three decades, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That's important to note. Russell cites in his article, "'A person with a college degree,' says Deborah Santiago of Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization that aims to accelerate Latino student success in higher education, 'will earn over $1 million more in a lifetime than someone without a college education.'" That can make a huge difference!

With two of her children's college tuitions looming over her, Saida was able to offset costs for her family through a combination of scholarships, loans, and grants. Saida's accomplishments are a positive example to other Hispanics and adult learners everywhere, and I want to thank AARP for telling her story and sharing useful information for others who want to get a college degree.