Alwyn Lee wanted to earn her college degree so badly that she vowed she would do whatever it took.
“I had started and stopped so many times,” she said. “I wanted to achieve it.”
Earning that degree took a lot of work—no surprise—but it didn’t require student loans. And when Lee turns 50 in 2021, it will be as a college graduate without student debt.
Lee’s decision to return to pursue her degree was not taken lightly. She was unable to work due to disability, had struggles with mental illness, and was still raising and caring for a teenage daughter with Down’s Syndrome. It was her third or fourth attempt at college, which had always been interrupted by hardships of one kind or another.
But Purdue Global seemed like a perfect fit: It was online so she could be home when her daughter needed her. Not only was it affordable, all of her previous college credits, including an associate degree she earned in 2008, transferred toward her new degree in liberal studies.
Lee submitted a FAFSA application and received both a Frank O’Bannon Grant, awarded to Indiana residents who demonstrate financial need, as well as a work-study grant, which allowed her to work part time at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Partnership.
Through working at the non-profit, she also learned how to achieve another goal: homeownership. “Earning this degree has really paid off,” Lee said. “There have been so many major rewards. All the classes have been absolutely awesome. I don’t think I missed a lecture.”