Why We Do What We Do
These personal stories from students at Jesuit institutions throughout the country are representative of the success of federal student aid programs. Click below for select examples from a small group of schools. Each AJCU institution is proud to host hundreds of students receiving financial aid.
Veronica Rottinghaus is a freshman at Creighton University from Seneca, Kan. who receives government grants to pay for her education. She lives on a dairy farm with her parents and is the youngest of twelve children. Her parents never attended college, but they have always emphasized the importance of education.
“One of the things my mom and dad always said is that because they couldn’t go to college, they would do whatever they needed to so that we could have a good college education,” Veronica said. “They wanted it to be Catholic, and they said they didn’t care about debt. They have never said we couldn’t go someplace if we really wanted to, even if it was expensive.”
As a result, nine of Veronica’s 11 siblings have graduated from college. Most of her siblings went to Catholic institutions, while a few of her brothers attended public schools to save money.
“They were willing to pay whatever,” Veronica said. “But as a result, we are in a lot of debt right now. Farmers are always in debt, but if they hadn’t sent us they would be better off.”
Because they chose to pay for their children’s educations, Veronica’s father, 73 and mother, 65, have had to postpone retirement. In 2008, grain prices increased, and as a result, milk prices went down. Veronica’s family lost close to $50,000. Still, her parents were determined to send her to college in the fall of 2010.
As a senior in high school, Veronica knew she wanted to attend college, just as nine of her older siblings had done before her. She tirelessly filled out scholarship applications and financial aid forms. After receiving grants and scholarships, she decided to attend Creighton, where one of her sisters had gone to school.
“If we didn’t get that financial aid, I could have still gone here, but it would have been a lot harder for my parents to make ends meet,” she said. “My mom works part-time at another job, and she was going to start working full-time. On top of that, she already works on the farm. She gets up at 4 a.m. and works at night as well, “she added.
Spencer Steffen, another freshman at Creighton, is from Crofton, a small town in northern Nebraska. He is the first person in his family to go to a four-year college. His parents both graduated from two-year colleges and his oldest brother, who has Down syndrome and is autistic, never attended college.
As a senior, Spencer knew that he would have to get government funding in order to go to school. His parents, who own a propane business, could not afford to send him to Creighton, so he applied for as many scholarships as possible.
“When you come from a small high school, you don’t really get a lot of big scholarships,” he said. “You get small local ones, but I really wanted to come to Creighton.”
After receiving his financial aid package and Pell grants from the government, Spencer realized that it would be possible to attend Creighton. He has taken out student loans and works at the Creighton University Medical Center to pay for the remainder of his tuition.
“I work hard to pay for school, but without all of the grants and financial aid, I would probably not be going to school at Creighton,” he said.