I feel foolish for not pursuing financial aid, but I am really turned off by the whole application process since I went the gov't aid route and was rejected because my wife's salary disqualified me.
It's not enough to live on by any means, but too much to make me eligible for assistance.
My grandmother passed away and left me some money. It'd have been more if I'd taken it out of the market before the bubble burst. But at the time I started school, it was enough to pay our mortgage every month until graduation. So I got myself a debit card linked to the account, and I use that to pay for everything that is school related.
gas to and from school
my son's tuition at the school's children's center
lunch and breakfast some days
and anything else that looks like it'll take a big chunk out of my wife's check
I've been bad, using the card for too many things that are not school related, but I figure once I get working I'll pay myself back.
So aside from the mortgage, we've got a car payment, but that's it for debt. I did not want to take a loan and be obligated to any other financial institution, so I'm using what we have. $100 a week goes into forced savings from my wife's check for "just in case" money, too.
I graduate in May, and I've still got money left so, so far so good. Not looking forward to paying for the Christmas aftermath though. But then come tax refunds, so six of one, half dozen of the other.
Added: now that I'm thinking about this, I've realized that I've done pretty well at accepting that money is not everything. If I think about all the grants I could have had, it'd probably add up to nearly 10K. If I'd sued over my unlawful job loss 3+ years ago, I'd probably be sitting pretty. But the angst and constant battle and legal mumbo jumbo were a more powerful deterrant than the money being a draw. And the stigma attached to that whole thing would probably have made it difficult to find work ever again. Before I lost my job I made good money, but always felt it was not enough to build a future. After losing my income and living modestly since, money has less importance to me. As a nurse, I'm never going to be rich, I accept that. Now, when I have money, I use it to make living comfortable. If I did not have what my grandmother left me - under 6 figures by the way - then I suppose I'd have gone the grant/loan route. But I had it, so I used it because that's what made me most comfortable. And I'm sure grandma does not mind. She's probably watching over me and is very proud.