First of all, where are we going to live? We thought we knew -- The Lodge at Southpoint -- but that was before a friend of mine (coincidentally, the wife of the doctor I work for) stopped by the office yesterday and casually let slip that she and her husband own a rental house in Durham with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, hardwood floors, a new kitchen, a yard, the whole shebang. And that, oh, yeah, that the place happens to be TWO BLOCKS from the brand-new Duke PA building in downtown Durham. Needless to say, that changes things a bit. We couldn't afford the rent on our own, but if our friend Kelsey comes to live with us (apparently one bedroom and bathroom are on the second floor, almost like a separate little suite, which would be great for subletting) then that might be a different story. We'll just have to see how things work out. My workplace's Christmas party is tonight, so I might find out some more details then.
Secondly, now that I'm 99.9% sure that I'm going to Duke, how do I handle things with the other two schools? For instance, when do I send UF the polite email I've drafted (telling them how sorry I am not to be returning, but how nice it is, by giving up my spot, to be able to offer someone else the opportunity to be a Gator)? Do I wait to see if they make any financial offers to me before I say no? (But... would it change my mind even if they did? Not likely.) And what about ECU? I still have an interview scheduled there for January 22nd. Do I just decline the interview now, knowing that there's no way their program will measure up to Duke or Florida? Or do I take the interview, with the understanding that there's no pressure (since I already know what the outcome will be), just to satisfy my own curiosity? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to go, just to get a look at the facilities and the professors and my prospective fellow students... just so that I 'know what I'm turning down' before I do it... so that in a couple years, when I'm up to my neck in loans from Duke, I'll know all the sides of why I made the choice I did. But honestly, what is the point? As above -- would it change my mind even if they did accept me (which they will) and give me some financial help (which is a distinct possibility)? Probably not. You can't turn down Duke University for ECU... it's, like, a law.
So is the interview even worth it? Opinions much appreciated!
And third, of course, the money thing. I've done my homework (consisting of a very pretty Excel spreadsheet), and the total cost of the Duke program is going to be around $105,000, two-thirds of which is tuition and other fees that are paid directly to the school. As far as living expenses, since Liz will be going back to school after I graduate, we've worked out a plan whereby she'll pick up more of the household expenses while I'm in school (if she's financially able to do so) with the understanding that I'll then do the same for her while she's in school. Taking that into account, things become a little more manageable. I'm also doing everything I can to get a little bit of money saved up on my own, and there's also a slim chance of a $10,000/year scholarship from Duke (though those are thin on the ground, so I can't count on anything). Best-case scenario, near as I can figure -- assuming I do get the Duke scholarship -- would be a total of about $65,000 unaccounted for; worst-case scenario would be around $85,000. Realistically, I'll probably end up taking out the difference in loans; however, I already have $20k in loans from that disaster of a year at UNC. Given that disadvantage, I really want to try to find other ways to take a few more chunks out of that enormous amount before I have to go crawling back to College Foundation.
For instance, I've considered the idea of egg donation. It's a sizable amount of money -- several thousand dollars -- for relatively little effort, and I definitely meet all the health and age requirements, but it just seems so odd, and a little disturbing, to be giving my genetic material away. Call me selfish, but if I'm going to have little ones running around out there somewhere, well, I want to know them. If I'm going to have "kids", I want them to be mine. Not to mention, my schedule doesn't really accommodate multiple doctors' appointments or any possible travel. So, scratch that idea.
I've also thought about getting my car wrapped in one of those vinyl ads -- I drive in very busy areas and spend considerable time sitting in traffic, so I'd be a great candidate for them. It pays a couple hundred bucks a month. However, you have to commit to the program for a certain number of years, and I have a feeling I'm not going to want to be "stuck" driving the Impala once I graduate from school and have the money to buy a new car. So, cross that one off the list.
Beyond those two, there don't seem to be a lot of ideas coming to me. I've donated plasma before, but that's a big time commitment that doesn't actually net a whole lot of money in the end. I've taken my used books and CDs to used bookstores, and I've sold everything I can sell on eBay. I'm kind of out of options. I wish there were some sort of job I could do at home, like editing others' written work. I keep checking Craigslist for possibilities, but I haven't had any luck finding anything suitable. I should probably just resign myself to the idea of paying it all back after graduation, but I just don't want to continue to live 'poor' after school because so much of my money is being devoted to loan repayment. Nor do I want to make smaller payments and then spend a decade before I'm out of debt. It seems like these next few months should theoretically be enough time to do something about this. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Anyway, it's time to go get ready for the party. I'll let you all know how things shape up!