College is Amazing: Paying for it Doesn’t Have to be a Maze

By Marcia Shetler

sweet-corn-maze-905219_1280I live in the Midwest, where corn mazes have become a popular form of entertainment. Perhaps you have wandered through—or got lost in— one yourself. But as you are engaging in this organic, nature-connecting activity, you might not realize how high-tech of an enterprise corn maze creating has become. Farmers outsource maze development to companies that produce an endless array of intricate designs, from the Mona Lisa to mastodons. And corn mazes are big business. In 2013, Modern Farmer reported that farmers have made as much as $50,000 per year with their maze, and that was three years ago.

But now the corn has been harvested for another season: it’s winter and a new year, and the time when many high school seniors and others are stepping up the pace to get their college plans in place. A significant piece in this puzzle is paying for it. Like choosing a college or university itself, finding the best options to pay for higher education can feel like being stuck in a maze with a myriad of options. It’s hard to know which direction to go and it feels impossible to see the big picture. And making a wrong turn will have the exact opposite results of a money-making enterprise and instead can send you down a path of decades of debt.

But, there is good news! Finding credible resources to help with higher education financial planning doesn’t need to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. This month, the COMPASS Initiative will focus on this topic. Each week new articles here on the COMPASS blog will provide practical ideas, personal reflections, and spiritual insights. Follow our graduate-1440191_1280-croppedTwitter feed and join us on Facebook all month long for great curated content. And view our resources on the COMPASS web page for even more help and guidance.

Finally, you won’t want to miss this month’s COMPASS Live Chat on Monday, January 23, 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific. Darryl Dahlheimer, Program Director for LSS Financial Counseling, will share tools to help navigate choosing a college, to create a budget to keep living costs low while in school, and to find the best options to repay student loan debt after graduation. Just connect to the Chat on January 23 with this link:

Getting a degree can be a great enhancement to your life. The COMPASS Steering Committee and I look forward to helping you on your higher education financial planning journey as we meet each other on Facebook, Twitter, and at our Live Chat to explore ways to navigate the maze of college finances!

About the Author

marcia shetlerMarcia Shetler is Executive Director/CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. She holds an MA in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, a BS in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Bible certificate from Eastern Mennonite University. She formerly served as administrative staff in two middle judicatories of the Church of the Brethren, and as director of communications and public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, an administrative faculty position. Marcia’s vocational, spiritual, and family experiences have shaped her vision and passion for faithful stewardship ministry that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of Christ’s church and the common call to all disciples to the sacred practice of stewardship. She enjoys connecting, inspiring, and equipping Christian steward leaders to transform church communities.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS Initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page, follow us on Twitter, and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Image credits: