A kid with a college savings plan

December 08, 2016 | GET MORE : Life

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With five siblings, every penny helps when it comes to saving for college.

At just 12 years old, Camille Stuczynski realized that with five sisters she’d probably have to chip in and would need to start saving early if she wanted to attend college. Seven years later she still remembers the family dinner when the thought crossed her mind.

“I realized that with six of us, there was no way my parents could afford a $1 million price tag to send us all to college,” said Stuczynski. “So I started to work for my aunt and uncle, got a job as a tutor and started teaching piano lessons – saving all the money I earned. And after that, I’m proud to say that I was able to pay for the first year of college by myself.”

Now in her second year at the University of California, Berkeley, Stuczynski has found another way to pay for college: winning a $20,000 scholarship from U.S. Bank. 

“I found the U.S. Bank scholarship opportunity through my school’s website,” said Stuczynski, an industrial engineering major. “It was very easy to navigate through the financial modules and I learned a lot about loans and credit cards. I feel more financially rooted now. We aren’t really taught [personal finance] in high school and now I feel like I have a baseline understanding of how it works.”

Stuczynski recalls sitting with a sister at her sorority house when she received three emails about the scholarship. After a quick freak out moment, she called her mom, who was too busy with her other siblings to really understand what she was saying. “That was very anti-climactic, and then when I texted my dad he was in a work meeting and not able to talk about it either, which was pretty funny. We later had a big family celebration.”

Stuczynski is thrilled to not only be more financially savvy, but also to not have to worry about paying tuition for the rest of the school year. “I now plan to use the rest of my savings to pay for my junior year. That way I should only have to take out a loan for my senior year, which is awesome.”

In addition to the $20,000 scholarship, five other students across the country each won $5,000 scholarships and 10 students won $500 scholarships. 

Susan Beatty is a Minneapolis-based member of U.S. Bank’s corporate communications team.