The first moment I wished I was hit by a car again is the exact moment I truly wondered — why can’t students afford college anymore?
Coming up on the end of my last semester as a junior at a state school, I’ve accumulated a fairly large amount of student loans: sizable enough to make me extremely money conscious. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to pay it all off, I just know it’s going to be difficult and stressful…that is, until something happened about a year ago that gave me hope.
A terrible and unfortunate accident landed me in the hospital, put me out of work for two weeks, and left me with a large sum of money.
In July of last year, I was hit by a car. Well, technically two cars crashed and collided into me. Thankfully, I don’t remember them coming towards me or the first few seconds after I was hit, but I do remember waking up in the middle of the street screaming bloody-murder.
It was a Wednesday morning and, if I remember correctly, it was about nine o’clock. I had just dropped off my car at the local mechanic for a routine oil change. Hungry, bored, and restless, I decided it would be nice to take a walk down the street to a little restaurant for some breakfast. Of course, had I known what was going to happen, I would’ve saved my appetite for later.
The restaurant was only two short blocks away. Walking one foot in front of the other, I remember feeling the wind swim through my hair; I was only one block away from stuffing my face with a greasy, bacon-filled, breakfast burrito, but I never made it across the street.
As I stood on the corner of an intersection, waiting for that little walking man to turn green, two cars ran a red light and smashed into each other. One of those cars was turning left and the other was going straight – pretty mundane details until you realize, if you’re good at geometry or can picture this scenario in your head, they both were headed in my direction.
All I remember was seeing them crash.
And then I blacked out.
Waking up in the street was the first thing I can recall after witnessing the crash. Not being able to feel certain parts of my legs was terrifying. So was feeling blood gush down the side of my face, turning my blonde hair a crimson red.
To this day, I still am amazed that I lived. I only suffered a concussion, 5 lacerations, multiple contusions, and a black eye. I looked like someone from The Walking Dead, but I was alive. In immense pain, but alive.
My diligent lawyer helped me come out of this nightmare with a decent amount of money for the pain, emotional trauma, wages lost, and long list of medical expenses. I was, and still am, so grateful. This was a time in my life when I was already living paycheck to paycheck. I was just relieved to be liberated from paying off bills as a result of an accident that wasn’t my fault.
A portion of the money was used to pay off the insane cost of the ambulance and doctors, as well as compensate me for the two weeks I was unable to work, but I was fortunate enough to be left with a hefty sum after those expenses were taken care of.
To say that the amount of money I acquired from my settlement didn’t take a little pressure off having to pay my students loans would be a lie. I honestly was relieved!
The money I received from the accident will in no way cover all of my loans, but it will definitely put a dent in them: cushion the blow. And once I realized this notion, it got me thinking.
If the settlement I received was synonymous with my injuries, what could I have gotten if my injuries were more substantial? What if I had been seriously injured? Would I have been given more money?
These are actual thoughts I’ve run through my head time and time again. And why?!
What kind of world do we live in where the cost of school and the thought of being in debt for the rest of our lives make a woman wish she were hit by a car, for a second time, and more traumatically??
Thinking about how much more stressed I’d be if I hadn’t been hit by a car is a weird thing to think about. This just presses a major question: Why is college so damn expensive?
Why does going to a university have to cost an arm and a leg? And almost literally in my case.
I am ashamed and embarrassed to even admit that I still think about how much more money I could’ve been given had I broken a leg or something more serious, but this is the reality that we as students, both past and present, live in. Even with the settlement I received, I will still be in debt, just like 40 million other Americans. Something needs to be done.
It used to be enough for a person to have received an associate degree. Now, it’s bumped up to a bachelor’s degree, and soon enough the norm will be to have earned a master’s degree. So if going to college is basically a prerequisite for any decent-paying job, tuition needs to be more reasonable. Tuition needs to be inexpensive enough to where students don’t have to be paying it off for the rest of their lives. And more importantly, tuition needs to be inexpensive enough to where a 24-year-old college student can stop wishing she were hit by a car again.