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A Guide to Making A Private University More Affordable: Sabrina Hassan (CAS ’18)

Sabrina Hassan (CAS ’18) is a senior studying International Relations and African Studies. She has made it a point that this year, being her senior year, she was going to do things that she always wanted to do – in order to leave a legacy. This includes reaching out to students who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds going to schools like BU and advising them on ways to make it easier.

It’s important to her to do this because it makes students’ education more accessible and opens up more opportunities. When students come in with a scholarship or grants, they may not be able to access the same resources that other students are able to – such as office hours, clubs, internships – because they are working. To get more out of their educational experience, Sabrina thinks that there needs to be more financial awareness of the resources that BU can give you. In her first two years, she was always calculating and trying to come up with ways to save more money – and now she feels as if it took away from time that could have been spent in clubs or in internships to better her college experience.

Sabrina comes from East Africa, specifically from Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. She moved to the states as a baby, and as she was growing up, her family had just enough money to get by. Between high school and college, she took four years off while doing Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). She traveled around the U.S. doing national service projects. At the end of the program, she received an education award – which helped her toward her cost at BU.

She came in as a transfer student – with experience in managing finances and how to live on your own, which is something most first years deal with throughout their first semester. This helped her learn new tricks for turning a little bit of money into a lot.

Within BU, students can appeal for money if they are struggling. If you get your scholarship award, you can re-appeal for that and obtain that money if they reduce it.

For insurance, you can apply for MassHealth, and if you qualify, you can get health insurance for free – with a pretty good coverage. Students can save a lot of money by reducing the amount of money that they put towards health insurance.

Living wise, there is the HER house, which is a Cooperative house established in 1928 (and celebrating its 90-year anniversary soon) by Harriet E. Richards. It provides housing to women who are dependent on financial aid at Boston University and would not be able to afford the cost of education otherwise. All of the food is provided as well. There is an alumni association that provides scholarship opportunities to the 24 residents in the house.

Another thing Sabrina did was not buy her textbooks. She would borrow the books through worldcat.org, which would deliver the books to Mugar.

There’s also a lot of scholarship opportunities at BU. She’s a FLAS Scholar (Foreign Language and Area Studies) studying Swahili which gives you a scholarship and a stipend as well. There are all these little scholarships that students can tap into eventually, which help towards the cost of education.

She thinks she’s been able to save over $40,000 by doing all of these little things. Through doing research and applying for opportunities like MassHealth, Sabrina saved money but wishes she could have gone more to clubs and network. She wishes that there was a guide to college finances – especially resources like the HER house. Sabrina also believes that BU should inform their students from low socioeconomic backgrounds about the options they have to make their education a little more affordable.

“However, it’s nice to say that I went to BU and I’m not drowning in debt.”

Alizah Ali is a senior at BU. She's working on her biology-premed degree, which finds her often in the quietest parts of the library. She loves coffee and bunnies and running whenever the Boston weather lets her. She's a big advocate for mental health destigmatization and awareness. Follow her on instagram @lizza0419
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