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A child finally graduating from college is as much an achievement for parents as it is for the graduate. It’s the culmination of a parent’s years of hard work and sacrifice. So they deserve to share the spotlight and celebrate with pride and joy, especially when they’ve single-handedly paid for their children’s education. 

These two moms certainly know a lot about this particular struggle because they’ve gone through it themselves and emerged successful. If you want tips on how to finance your child’s college education, moms Livia and Euge have a lot of good advice and noteworthy education success stories to share. 

How to Finance Your Child’s College Education: Success Stories of Two Single Moms

Euge Alarcon-Montero, Devoted OFW Mom

Being a mother is a tough job. What more being thousands of miles away just to provide for your child? 

For the last 16 years, Euge Alarcon-Montero has endured being away from her only son Neal Alarcon, working as a respiratory therapist in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But it wasn’t a decision that she came to easily.

Just the thought of being separated from Neal filled her heart with so much pain and anxiety. She was plagued with endless questions, like who would take care of him, and would he still grow up a good man, even if she’s far away? 

Euge was only 24 then, with very few options. But she knew she wanted to give Neal a good life and a good education. So when she received an offer to work abroad, with a salary that’s almost three times higher than her current salary here, she couldn’t say no. The salary was more than enough to send her son to any school he wanted and pay for everything else he would need. 

Tough Times Call for a Tough Decision

how to finance your child's college education - Euge and Neal

Before she became an OFW, Euge had her share of struggles when it came to paying for her son’s education. She took out loans from moneylenders to settle his school fees. She also availed the installment terms at her son’s school so that she can put money aside for savings and emergencies. Everything was funded by her salary.

And then came a lucky break. When Neal started college in University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Euge only had to pay for her son’s first year in college. As a UP Iskolar ng Bayan,[1] Neal enjoyed free tuition. Because of this scholarship program, Neal was able to use whatever money they’ve saved up to attend conferences overseas for his learning and development.

Aside from Neal’s college scholarship, Euge also had a lot of side hustles; from selling clothes and fashion accessories, to selling food and even recharge cards. “Name it, I had it,” Euge said with a little laugh. “I also accepted photography and event hosting jobs. Being madiskarte was the key!”

On having multiple side jobs to fund a child’s education: “Being madiskarte is the key!”

Euge Alarcon-Montero, mother of a UP graduate

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Pursuing Education No Matter What

At an early age, it was instilled in Euge that education is something that no one can take away from you. Even if she had to stop studying for a while because she got pregnant with Neal, Euge still pushed herself to graduate and earn her degree in Respiratory Therapy from the University of Perpetual Help System in Biñan, Laguna. She even went to med school right after graduation. But due to financial and personal issues, she had to let go of her dreams of going to med school.

“I may not have been able to achieve my ultimate dream to be a doctor. But I’m overjoyed. After all the doubts, the sacrifices, and the criticisms from people, I’m proud to tell the world that my son graduated college from the country’s top university,” Euge said. 

A Mother’s Biggest Sacrifice 

Euge was away for most of her son’s life. Sixteen years to be exact, and she considers this the biggest and most painful sacrifice. But whenever she could, Euge took yearly vacations in the Philippines to spend quality time with her son. 

“But the times that I missed, I cannot bring back. I can never bring back those years when he was younger, when I can just cuddle and kiss him as much as I want. But all that lost time is a tradeoff for a better future for him.” 

How to Finance Your Child’s College Education 

Euge has learned a lot of lessons over the years while paying for Neal’s education. Her advice for parents of college-bound students? 

“It’s important to invest in a good foundation, even if it seems impossible and difficult to achieve,” she said. “You may be struggling at the beginning, but just be patient. Endure the pain. Trust and believe in yourself. Have no fear, and never doubt. Everything will be worth it.”

Most importantly, Euge reminds other parents to always set aside funds to achieve their goals. “Learn how to use your money wisely. The envelope method is a great way to train yourself to save money.” 

Advice From One Parent to Another 

According to Euge, one of the best ways to finance your child’s college education is by setting aside an education fund

Availing of tuition installment plans or applying for scholarships is also very helpful. If your children have an exceptional talent for academics, music, or sports, you can apply for the university’s free-tuition programs. 

“Also, never settle for a one-source income. Sell products or earn from your talents. Anything that can give you extra income will help with your expenses,” Euge added.

“Last but not least, always ask for God’s guidance and Divine Providence. I believe this is the secret ingredient to success.”

“Never settle for a one-source income. Anything that can give you extra income will help with your expenses.”

Euge Alarcon-Montero

The Biggest Reward

how to finance your child's college education - Neal Alarcon on his graduation day
Euge’s son Neal during his college graduation

In July of 2020, Neal graduated from UP Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication degree. “During his virtual graduation, I couldn’t help getting teary-eyed. I gave myself a big pat on the back and told myself, ‘You did a great job!’” 

Just one and a half months after Neal graduated, he landed a job as a Relationship Manager – Data Analyst at Shopee Philippines. 

“He’s now enjoying his salary and even shares in paying the bills, groceries, and other things at home. The even greater news is that I’ll be coming home soon to stay in the Philippines for good and finally be reunited with my family.” 

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Livia Constantino, Hardworking and Hustlin’ Single Mom

Busy mom of three Livia Constantino surely has her hands full. Apart from raising her three kids, two of which are still in college, she’s also busy working as a financial advisor and unit manager at one of the top insurance companies in the country. 

Her eldest daughter Margaux Andrea Louise, 24, recently graduated from iAcademy with a degree in Multimedia Arts. Her son Liam Daniel, 22, is currently taking up Information Technology at the De La Salle College in Dasmariñas, Cavite. Kylla Francinne, 20, is a BS Accountancy student in Far Eastern University. 

Related article: Schools with Highest Tuition Fee in the Philippines

No Easy Feat

how to finance your child's college education - Livia and kids

Financially supporting her three children is no easy feat. To make ends meet, Livia had different side hustles while working at a BPO company for several years. She sold chocolates, perfumes, bags, and clothes to her teammates. “There was even a time when I sold DVDs and snacks at work,” Livia recalled. “Basically, I sold everything that was in demand at work.”

Her exceptional skills in sales eventually led her to a career as a life insurance financial advisor, and she’s been doing it for almost eight years now.

“Since I am the sole provider, I really needed a bigger monthly income,” Livia said. “Back then, I had to do all kinds of selling and sidelines. Until I found the opportunity in the life insurance industry, which greatly improved my income. It enabled me to afford my children’s tuition and all our other needs.” 

She’s blessed to have such smart children. In fact, her eldest daughter Margaux was often on the dean’s list, so Livia was also able to get discounts on her tuition. This was very helpful because she had two other children with their own school expenses as well. 

Read more: What Student Discounts are Available in the Philippines?

“I believe that education is essential, and that it’s the first step to success.”

Livia Constantino, mother of three

Education Can Lead to Success

how to finance your child's college education - college graduation
Margaux at her college graduation

Like any other parent who wants only the best for their children, Livia also believes in giving her children the best education possible. Her own parents and her uncle made sure that she graduated from college despite their financial difficulties. This is why getting her degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from La Consolacion College is one of Livia’s proudest accomplishments. 

“When I became a parent, it was my goal for my children to finish college no matter what it takes. I believe that education is essential, and that it’s the first step to success.”

Never Not Working

There were plenty of challenges in achieving this goal for her kids, though, and Livia had to make a lot of sacrifices along the way. Like giving up treats and rewards for herself after a long and hard day at work. “I had to set aside luxury, like frequent family bonding, or travel. I had to work twice as hard. There was no time for idle time.”

Read more: Money Management Tips for Parents This School Season

One Down, Two to Go

how to finance your child's college education - college graduate with siblings
Livia’s children: Liam, Margaux, and Kylla

But all of Livia’s hard work and sacrifice is starting to pay off. Her eldest daughter is now finished with college, and Livia couldn’t be more proud to see her doing great in her chosen field. 

“Margaux is currently a freelance multimedia designer and handles different beauty and fashion brands internationally. Her main client is Benefit Cosmetics (APAC),” Livia proudly shared. “She has been a consistently excellent student since she was little, and she’s passionate about what she’s doing right now. This inspires me to keep striving because I really want my kids to have the very best.”

Doing Whatever It Takes

There’s always a special lesson to learn from a story about a single mother overcoming different challenges. Livia’s commitment to send her children to good schools on her own is truly inspiring and admirable. 

She attributes her success to her hard work and determination, as well as her resourcefulness when it comes to earning extra income. 

Her advice on how to finance your child’s college education? “Find a job that you can focus on and can provide for all your children’s education needs. If your job is not sufficient to pay for education, find a side business that can augment your income. As parents, we have to do whatever it takes to send our children to school.”

“As parents, we have to do whatever it takes to send our children to school.”

Livia Constantino

Final Thoughts

Your child’s education is one of the most important things you should prepare for financially. It’s a major financial undertaking that will take up a huge chunk of your budget for the next 10 years or so.

It’s more challenging for solo parents who have to pay for it on their own. But like Livia and Euge have shown, it can be done. These two hardworking and resourceful moms certainly did! 

Take their advice on how to finance your child’s college education that emphasizes having more than one source of income and using all available financial resources, like scholarships, personal loans, installment plans, and other forms of tuition payment assistance.

Consider these resources when you hit some bumps in the road. The important thing is to stay the course. Before you know it, it’s time for your child’s college graduation!  

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Source: [1] Iskolar ng Bayan Program (UP Office of Admissions)