Student Success Series: Bartee Taylor

Bartee attended Perspectives Charter High School of Technology and is now a Freshman at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Raising the Bar

Bartee enrolled in Moneythink during January of 2017 as a senior from Perspectives High School of Technology, joining the first cohort of students in Moneythink’s College Financial Coaching program. In September, Bartee sat down with Moneythink staff to discuss his experiences with the program over the last few months, and his journey to college.

As the first of his siblings to graduate high school, Bartee “wanted to raise the bar even higher [for my younger siblings] from graduating high school to graduating college.” His mom received her bachelor’s degree in psychology, but with an extended family full of nurses, he knew he wanted to pursue a similar career path and could turn to them for support. As Bartee was exploring his options for college during his senior year of high school, Chicago was barely on his radar. “I didn’t want to stay in Chicago. I’ve been here all my life and… I was trying to experience something different.” He ended up applying to schools in the South and in the West and ultimately chose to attend a university in Texas.

Bartee worked with his Moneythink coach to create a comprehensive financial plan for his school in Texas, and discovered a first-year financial gap of nearly $8,000 that he and his family would have to come up with to pay for his tuition. Although the cost of attendance was higher than Bartee and his coach had hoped, he was determined to get out of Chicago and was excited to move in the fall.

Bartee’s situation is actually quite common. Many students believe that working more hours or taking on more loans will be enough to see them through these large financial gaps, forgetting to consider the consequences.

Change of Course

With his paperwork submitted, orientation complete, and just a few weeks to go until his move-in date, Bartee was ready to begin his college journey. However, at the beginning of August, Bartee’s mother came to him with a major surprise: she had found his acceptance and award letters to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). With a tuition that was significantly less than his school in Texas, Bartee’s mom urged him to attend UIC instead. But Bartee was stubbornly set on going to Texas, which led them to frequently butt heads.

“It was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t actually go anywhere I wanted… [and] how expensive it was to go out of state.”

Bartee’s Moneythink coach worked with him to ensure he understood the full extent of his decision to attend school in Texas, and they warned him of the potential financial risks it could pose. “They wouldn’t let [the problem] escalate. [T]hey were like ‘if you want to do that [go to school in Texas], then do that,’ but they were very helpful in guiding me on what I should do.”

Eventually, after some long and often frustrating talks with his parents and Moneythink coach, Bartee decided to go to UIC. “[I realized] they [my parents] would struggle to pay for my education if I went out of state. I have 5 younger siblings… [and] I just thought it was too selfish of me to make them pay so much for me knowing that they have other kids to take care of.”

These sentiments of ownership and guilt about the potential financial burdens they cause to their family are all too often felt by students across the country. In fact, 40% of students who choose not to go to their first-choice school do so due to cost related reasons.

Back on Track

When Bartee let his Moneythink coach know he was switching schools, he was surprised not only by how much his coach knew about his financial options, but also how quickly they were able to come up with a new financial plan. In fact, his Moneythink coach discovered that because he was commuting to school instead of living on campus, he would actually receive a refund on his financial aid. By choosing to go to UIC instead of Texas, Bartee had effectively closed his potential financial gap from $8,000 to $0.

Although Bartee was initially uncertain about how he was going to pay tuition, by working with his Moneythink coach, his fears soon disappeared. “… I didn’t have a plan. I was just like ‘Mama, can you pay this?’ That’s all I knew! But [my coach] helped me build a [financial plan] and it really helped, because I was stressing out about nothing! I was thinking, ‘how can I pay this?’ not knowing that I was actually getting money back, and they helped me get to that.”

When Bartee was planning to go to Texas, he’d thought he was making the best decision available to him, but by working with his Moneythink coach, he was able to discover new pathways to college that he had never considered before.

“[My Moneythink coach] knows what they’re talking about… It was like they could tell me what was going to happen before it actually happened.”

Bartee is currently in his second semester at UIC studying nursing, and he is continuing to work with his Moneythink coach to ensure he is prepared for his coming second year.


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