Family works, prays to meet college expenses

| February 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
Clare, left, and Sarah Reinhardt are together at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D.,  two of seven Reinhardt children who have graduated or are in college.

Clare, left, and Sarah Reinhardt are together at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., two of seven Reinhardt children who have graduated or are in college. COURTESY CLARE AND SARAH REINHARDT

Clare Reinhardt knew she wouldn’t get much help from her parents for college expenses.

The fifth-youngest in a family of 10 children, she followed brothers and sisters who didn’t get much assistance, either. Her parents, Deacon Jim and Nadine Reinhardt of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, were busy putting all of their children through Catholic grade schools and private high schools.

“My dad didn’t pay for any of it [college],” said Clare, now a senior studying dietetics at North Dakota State University in Fargo. “But he helped me write scholarship applications and financial-aid type stuff.”

“I kind of knew,” she said of going-it-alone to get through college on savings, finding jobs during the summer and school year, grants and loans. “I have older siblings, and I knew my parents didn’t pay for them, either. It’s all worked out for them.”

Deacon Reinhardt, a rehabilitation counselor who runs his own business, said he and his wife tried to teach good savings and work habits. By the time their children were in high school all of them were buying their own clothes, toiletries, sports equipment and meeting other needs.

They mowed lawns, worked as nannies, worked for him. One son worked in a hardware store.

Over the years, five Reinhardt children have graduated from the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas and St. Paul College in the Twin Cities, and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Clare and her sister, Sarah, are at NDSU. Two children are in high school and one is a seventh grader.

Over the summers, Clare worked as a nanny, at a nursing home and for her father. She works during college in the nutrition department of a Fargo hospital.

She saved money, got help through a Knights of Columbus school loan, and expects to owe about $20,000 in student loans when she graduates.

Looking back at preparing for college, Clare said, she might have sought out more scholarships. “But that can be time consuming, too,” she said.

Her parents won’t have any debt stemming from her studies.

“I’m not really a big spender,” Clare said. “After high school I had a pretty good chunk saved. I don’t know exactly, I guess around $5,000. It all went to college.”

She’s made good friends at college, many of them connected to the Newman Center on campus. They don’t go out much, opting instead for board games and other inexpensive entertainment.

And Sarah joined her this year as a freshman at the college. They live together in an apartment owned by the university.

“It’s awesome,” Clare said. “We share a bunk bed again.”

Faith plays a major role in her life, Clare said, including her approach to school and finances.

“That is the most important part,” she said. “It can be kind of stressful at times. But God always provides.”

Deacon Reinhardt said having several children in school at once helped his family. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid takes multiple children into account, effectively splitting the amount parents are expected to help among the children. A family expected to foot $30,000 of the bill each year, for example, with two children in college might be expected to provide $15,000 each.

That opens the door to more federal aid and more need-based aid from the schools, Deacon Reinhardt said.

Other avenues he followed, Deacon Reinhardt said, included schools’ “special circumstances” funds for families who need extra financial help.

“I called and said, ‘we’ve got financial aid, but it’s not cutting it,’” and schools found a way to assist them, he said.

God has helped all along the way, Deacon Reinhardt said.

“On paper, we couldn’t afford 10 kids,” he said. “On paper, those kids can’t afford to do what they’ve done. But God is faithful. It’s a rich life, and God takes care of you.”

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