I am 20 years old and currently go to university in the Southern California area and nothing about California is cheap. Although I feel fortunate to be here as a first-generation college student, the stress of paying for classes & living accommodations is getting to me. My parents both come from Mexico and have basically built their life from scratch, without the ability to attend college. My mother graduated high school and quickly began working to support her 8 brothers and sisters. My father left school in 3rd grade when his father passed away. He was forced to work so his family could eat. I am immensely proud of the things they have accomplished and I work hard every single day to make sure their sacrifices aren’t in vein. However, work is slowing for my dad who works hard in construction, even at the older age of 60. He’s been doing it for at least 35 years now and the labor is way past the point of wearing him down. My mom who works as an office assistant doesn’t make much money, but she tells me she loves what she does. I can feel how the financial pressure is affecting them, even though they refuse to show it to me. Every time I visit home, it’s like I can see the exhaustion in their eyes. What makes it worse is that I live in an apartment off campus because I wasn’t accepted into the dorms and so the bills pile high with monthly rent. I’ve tried getting a job, but I find that my grades begin to suffer. It’s difficult to balance an 8-hour graveyard shift with a full load of advanced classes. I try to help my parents with as much as I can, so I spend my free time giving piano lessons to little kids as well as babysitting once a week and tutoring. I feel proud of what I’ve done and it makes me happy to help my family with this burden, but it’s beginning to become too much. There’s only so much I can handle, and I’m afraid my family won’t be able to pay their bills or buy groceries in order to get me through college. I hope I can collect a little money on here to to lift some of the weight off my family’s shoulders. I know they deserve it more than anything. Anything helps, really, and I am grateful for everything. Whatever I get will only be used for good. Thank you.