I always dreaded about this. I always dreaded the conversation about college with my parents. I put it off so long… but I finally came out with it because time is ticking and my application is due in less than two months.

To sum things up here’s how it went:

1) My parents were more supportive than I imagined.
2) It was more heartbreaking than I imagined.

My parents are still pushing me to go to UCI because then I will be able to live at home since it is only twenty minutes away. I told them I would definitely apply and if I get accepted I will probably go there (but I will need to think about it and my other options). But I explained to them that I want to go to a college I am interested in. I want to go to a college not solely based on its location. My parents were more understanding than I gave them credit for. They are still urging me to go to UCI, but they told me to apply to any school I wanted to go to and not have any regrets.

That was the good news. Now for the bad.

My parents had no idea how much college costs nowadays. They literally had no idea. I first eased into the subject by asking them how much they were willing to pay for my college expenses. My mother looked unsure, and my father suggested $5,000. When he said 5,000 I felt my heart drop, but I didn’t say anything except for, “Oh really… Okay then.” Then my mom jumped in and said they paid more than that for my brother’s tuition when he went to Cal-State Fullerton. At that point I recovered a bit and presented them with the average price for going to school at a UC and boarding at one: at least $25,000. My mother was about to cry. There was a panicked look in her eyes and her nose was rosy. The sight of her made me want to cry, and my voice was shaky, but I wanted to seem fine, so I patted her back and told her I would take loans. I still tear up when I recall the moment.

I’m shocked that they didn’t have a clue of how much college expenses were. I didn’t even mention about private schools…they are at least $10,000 more. I guess they weren’t expecting for it to be so much. They never really had to deal with anything regarding universities with my brother, since he went to community college and then a Cal-State.

My brother was mentioned briefly (he was not present during this conversation…he was in his room). My dad suggested that maybe my brother will start working and help pay for my tuition. My mom complained about the fact that my brother has not truly found a job ever since he graduated and he is almost 26 years old now. It sort of makes me angry… I remember my brother always complaining about how he hated his life, but he never really went out there to change it and just continued living here locked up in his room, working for my dad. And now as my parents are struggling with money, my brother isn’t doing much to help. But, I really can’t direct my sadness towards him. It’s his life. He doesn’t have to help me in any way. I’m not saying that with bitterness… it really is his decision to make.

To make things worse, my dad is working less days now. And my mother is getting really slow business.

My mother suggested to my father about using his retirement money. It was a stab in my heart. I don’t want to do that…

My parents talked about our house. They are $150,000 away from paying off the house. So close… My college expenses (if they are 25,000 a year) will be 100,000… Depending on the interest of loans for college, it may be cheaper to just pay my college loans first before the house since the interest on the house may be lower…

It’s all so heartbreaking. My parents have worked so hard for their entire lives. I’ve never cried this much for my family in a long time. Usually they’re just the nagging people that live with me. But they work so hard. After they are done paying for the house, they don’t have anything except for old age. It’s not fair. After I finished talking to my parents about money, I could see the defeated look in their eyes. Maybe not defeated… just… something died a little. I’ve known it for a lot of my lifetime, but I just haven’t really realized it fully until now… They just want to live respectable lives with what they have left and give me something more than anything they could ever have. Please, whatever I do, I want to make them proud and make enough money really, really soon to help them live the rest of their days peacefully without any more burden.