Shasta Savage '14
Status: Current Student, Class of 2014
Hometown: Ithaca, New York
Works: 20 to 40 Hours/Week for Mighty Yoga and August Moon Spa
Tuition Assistance: Attended Tompkins County Community College to Reduce Her Costs
Student Debt: $25,000 to $30,000
Shasta Savage ’14 was just 18 when she took a break from school to take care of her mother, who had lung cancer. Her mother died just six months later, when Savage was 19.
One of seven children and the first to go to college, Savage faced the challenge of funding her own education.
“I took a year off—to deal with my mother’s death—and to come to terms with the fact that I’d be taking on this debt,” she says. “I had good credit; I didn’t owe any money. It was a tough decision, but in today’s society you need a college education to get anywhere above minimum wage.”
She attended Tompkins County Community College and built up credits before looking to transfer to a four-year college. She wanted to stay local for her family, so she looked at the State University of New York College at Cortland and Cornell University, but she liked the environment at Ithaca College best. She said she felt there was an openness about everyone at IC.
“I could have gone to Cornell, but I still chose Ithaca because of the environment. I just felt more comfortable here,” she says.
Even though Savage received a Founder’s Grant and works two off-campus jobs, she anticipates she will graduate $30,000 in debt. She says she sees it as an investment in her future.
And that openness that Savage first felt as a prospective student seems to have helped her in her transition. “Getting to know all the faculty and staff here has been great for me,” she says. “It makes me feel like I’m not going through all this alone.”
What advice would you give to prospective students about taking on debt to finance their education?
“When my mother died, I had no other familial help, so the initial process of getting financial aid for the first semester was intimidating. I personally didn't know where to start. I wish I had thought about the financial situation a bit more and looked at scholarships sooner. I didn’t think about how much debt I would be in and how much it would actually cost me to go to school. I wish I had thought that through a little more.”
Read more about the value of an IC education here.