November, 2017

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Every student’s college experience is unique, and the way students pay for college is no different. Many students have several support systems that help them make paying for college work, and Madi Nelson, a senior business major at Hamline University, is no different.

Nelson grew up in Oakdale, Minnesota and always knew she wanted to go to college. Nelson wasn’t the first person in her family to go to Hamline; she became interested in the St. Paul university after her sister started classes there. “Having a sister who went through the college application and financial aid processes was really nice,” Nelson said. “She and my parents helped me and knowing that she had done it made me feel so much less nervous.”

When Nelson was looking at colleges, affordability was certainly a major consideration, but it wasn’t the only factor. “I looked at a few other schools, and one was a little bit less expensive but I felt like I was going to be the most successful at Hamline,” Nelson said. She plans on graduating a semester early, which will have financial benefits too.

Nelson has received a diverse financial aid package all four years she’s been at Hamline. She was awarded a Pell Grant and a Minnesota State Grant — both of which are need-based. She also received an institutional scholarship and work study from Hamline, was awarded an outside scholarship and has taken out a student loan. She saved money in high school and in the summer during college — and her parents have helped out as well.

“Every little part helps,” Nelson said. “Things like the outside scholarship really make things less stressful. Knowing it was there all four years made things easier.”

Nelson has a unique perspective on financial aid — her work-study job is in the financial aid office at Hamline. “I can really relate to students who are applying for financial aid, and I think because I’ve gone through it recently I can better help students who are nervous,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot that goes into financial aid and things can change every year — the financial aid office is here to help students make it work and they helped me make it work.”

“My advice to students is save as much money you can during high school and summer — every little bit counts,” Nelson said. “And enjoy college while it lasts; it’ll go by so fast.”

By Tom Lancaster