Meet Natalia Panfilova, a 2017 graduate from the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. Natalia earned her bachelor’s in Public Relations without paying a single dollar for her degree.
According to Marketplace, roughly 70% of American students end up taking out loans to go to college. It was estimated that the average student leaves school with around $30,000 in debt. Not Natalia, though, and today she will share with us how this transfer student managed to graduate debt free.
Before coming to Rowan, Natalia went to Camden County College. She chose to attend community college because she knew she would save up more money that way. According to Saving for College, “Students can save as much as $30,000 or more by attending a community college instead of a private four-year college.” During community college, Natalia worked in full-time jobs that were taking care of her tuition payments. Also, during community college, one of Natalia’s friends told her to work with her at one of the Wyndham hotel chains in Atlantic City because the hotel chain would cover a part of her tuition. This opportunity was one of the reasons she managed to graduate debt free.
Tuition Reimbursement Jobs
Wyndham is one of many organizations that offer tuition reimbursements. Tuition reimbursement is when a company agrees to help pay for an employee to further his or her education. “All you have to do is prove that you can somehow apply your career skills to your job,” Natalia says. Natalia also received financial aid, but whatever was not covered by her job took care of it. “They would cover up my books and they would cover up to $4,000 per year. So, I actually didn’t pay anything out of pocket. I got to keep my salary, because I was a commuter,” Natalia says.
When Natalia was at Rowan, she chose not to stay on campus and decided to commute from Brigantine, NJ (Atlantic County). She commuted an hour each day, but because she commuted and was able to schedule her classes in two days, she was able to work full time at the hotel.
She recommends students learn about finances: “Educate yourself in all things financial, the more you know the better. Just in life in general, if you know how debt works, how banks work, your life is going to be so much easier.”
What is Natalia Doing Now?
Natalia recently moved to New York City for her new position as a program marketing manager for WebMD. By being savvy with her spending, she was able to graduate debt free and become a homeowner. Graduating debt free allowed Natalia to travel worry-free and so far, she has visited 13 countries.
Like what you see? Learn more about becoming a Rowan transfer student!
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major
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