Hi! My name is Maxwell Ayeliya and I am student in the Master’s of Accounting program at the University of Utah. I also work part-time for StepUp and I’m happy to share my FAFSA Success Story with you.

Education is important in a young person’s life. It is always exciting to start college after graduating from high school, but college tuition has been increasing year after year. I want to share my story with you how I graduated from college without using my own money and stayed debt-free.

I started college in spring 2014 with zero dollars in my bank account, no work experience, no family contribution, and because I came to America on a work visa and was not yet a US citizen, I could not qualify for federal student aid as well. I was scared and frustrated about paying for college and my financial situation. I nearly quit college, I took five classes during the spring and almost dropped all of them because I could not meet the tuition deadline. I remember talking to the cashier services to ask for payment options, but I could not even meet the installment payment plans.


I was upset and thought my education was over, but I always stay positive and try to think of a possible way out or a solution to every problem. I needed to find the solution rather than being frustrated.


I discussed my situation with the school and they extended my tuition due date with a campus job option to cover my total tuition. I will always feel proud to have started my college experience at Salt Lake Community College because of their flexibility and ability to work with me during hard times. Their decision gave me a peace of mind to study and I passed all my classes; I was able to organize and prepare my life for success.

I eventually transferred to the University of Utah and connected with the career services, the writing center, tutoring services, and other resources available at both SLCC and the University of Utah, which help me a lot. I discovered and applied to several scholarships that covered all my tuition expenses, books, and even part of my living expenses.


There are many resources on every college campus for students – you need to ask, research, and connect yourself to those resources to enjoy your college life.


I completed both my Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in accounting, all paid for with scholarships and work-study. I am currently finishing my Master’s degree, which is partly paid for with scholarships and work-study as well. Education can be expensive, but there are ways out. Be sure to plan, save, and reach out to people who can help you.

I encourage you to complete your FAFSA, and reach out to us if you have questions or need help!