With just six weeks to go before he needed to turn over $600 in rent for his new apartment, Austin Wilson was starting to panic. He simply didn’t have the money.
The University of Kansas senior owed his new off-campus apartment complex $500 for rent, plus a $100 one-time community fee, by Aug. 1. The problem was, his student loan reimbursement check that would cover his housing wasn’t set to arrive until mid-August.
"I know this money is coming and I know when it's coming, but it's just a little bit too late," he says.
Wilson, a 21-year-old history major, says he wiped out his emergency savings earlier this year after his car broke down and he had to buy a new one. With just $100 left over, Wilson was planning for a thrifty summer: “I’d try to build that up over the summer. I’d tighten my belt. I’d cut back, I’d stop spending money on food.”
But he hadn't read the fine print on his lease. His rent was due Aug. 1, not Aug. 15, when he was scheduled to move in. After he realized his oversight, he scrambled to find a second job to supplement the roughly $400 he makes every two weeks working the front desk on weekends at a senior care center. He couldn't.
“I put in about 40 job applications,” he says, but the only available jobs were for the weekend hours he was already working. “It’s a little disheartening,” he says. “I go through Indeed every two days. You send it in and then you don’t hear back.”
Having tried and failed to get a credit card, Wilson approached his bank for a loan, but the minimum was $3,000 — way more than he wanted to take on, given his approximately $30,000 in student loans. And it's not like he had stuff he could use as collateral or sell for quick cash.