Student Debt Assistance

I do not believe in rewarding bad behavior.

As a taxpayer, I am not supportive of paying the debts of college kids who changed their major six times or were too busy goofing around to show up for class, study, or get their homework done. If they took out loans and wasted that money on a trip to Hawaii, I’m not paying for it.

As a mother, I don’t reward my children for that type of behavior and, as a taxpayer, I don’t approve of rewarding someone else’s children for the same behavior.

I do believe in mercy and in rewarding effort.

Part of Freedom for Resilient Women’s program includes giving “Resilience Awards” to pay off the student debt of certain single mother graduates.

Sometimes we are victims of our own poor choices. Sometimes we are victims of the poor choices of others. Often, it’s a mix of both. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to own the situation that you are in and take personal responsibility for improving it. 

It is my belief that single mothers who persist through 1 – 4 years of intense hardship, complete school, and successfully apply their learning to their career have earned our mercy. Whatever amount of student debt they have, whatever they have suffered by their own choices or by the choices of others, I believe that they pay back in the following ways:

  • They become independent and no longer rely on the welfare system.
  • They contribute taxes on the state and national level.
  • They become positive role models for others in their communities.
  • They provide stable homes for their children which, in turn, improves the quality of our schools and neighborhoods.
  • Their children are more likely to graduate from high school, understand the value of hard work, and become productive members of society.

Freedom for Resilient Women provides loan repayment assistance to these deserving women because we believe in rewarding single mothers who step up to life’s challenges. We will not benefit from their sacrifices while simultaneously permitting them to be punished by a mountain of unforgivable debt. We will honor these resilient women, celebrate their work ethic, free them from student debt, and encourage other single mothers to follow in their footsteps.

I Wonder

I was 33 years old when I got divorced, my dreams shattered, life flipped upside down, and the world ended.

The divorce itself was high conflict. I struggled to adjust as my children went back and forth between houses. My finances, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio went from impeccable to horrifying in a matter of months. For the first time in my life, I was receiving food stamps and other government aid.

I believed that I had failed at everything that mattered. I knew that the rest of my life would be spent begging for help, struggling to pay rent, working multiple jobs, disappointing my children, and never having enough.

At the time, I was a legal assistant for two attorneys. When one of them suggested I take the LSAT, I laughed and reminded him that only smart people take the LSAT. When the other seconded the idea, I started to think, “I wonder…”

I signed up for the LSAT prep course and took the exam out of curiosity, careful not to tell anyone but my parents and closest friends, just to see if I had the ability to pass. My score was mediocre. I applied to only one school and anticipated rejection. Somehow, the University of Utah decided to accept my application.

I began to hope.

My children were only four and six years old. My parents lived three states away in Washington. I didn’t know if I was smart enough for law school. I didn’t know how I’d pay for everything. I didn’t know whether I’d be able to study effectively, graduate, pass the Bar exam, or get a job.

For three excruciating years, I worked and pushed myself to see what might happen if I kept trying. I struggled through constant anxiety, panic, fear, and depression. I leaned on the strength of family, friends, classmates, and professors.

When I passed the Bar exam, I fell on the floor and cried to God with gratitude that I finally knew I was smart enough for law school and that my family would be okay.

In October 2019, I stood in the middle of the Utah State Capitol Building and, while my children watched, I was sworn-in as an attorney. Raising my arm to the square with my classmates, I looked around in awe and thought, “I wonder what else I could do?”

Every resilient woman who works, sacrifices, bends, breaks, and bleeds to push her family toward a better  future, deserves to one day stand in awe of her own achievement and ask, “I wonder what else I could do?”

Ask Me About Marriage

 It would be nice to have a companion to share my life and grow old with.

However, I am going to scream if one more person tells me that I should get remarried instead of go to school, work, or otherwise take care of myself.

I know women who have gotten remarried for the sake of having greater financial security. Some of
them are on their third or fourth marriages and still haven’t found it.

I’ve been in relationships even though I knew I was not emotionally or mentally healthy enough to date. I am human and I crave companionship like everyone else.

Very few of us become single mothers without experiencing trauma of some sort. My hopes for
remarriage are based on the belief that, someday, I might heal from the scars and trauma of the past and build a relationship with a man who is kind and good. My hope is that I he will take pride in my need to work and manage my finances independently. With luck, he will also understand that a prenuptial agreement is not an insult but, rather, it is a tool to protect us both against worst-case scenarios. I’ve lived through the worst-case scenario and I believe that it is the responsibility of partners in marriage to protect both themselves and the person they love from even the faintest possibility of harm.

Marriage is the legally binding partnership of two like-minded individuals
who love, support, respect, help, challenge, and lift each other to new heights.

It is not a financial plan.

Author: Lisa Sledge

Show Me the Money


I do not believe that my desire to make money makes me less of a lady than when I was content to
make pennies as a teacher.

But, if it does, I’m learning to be okay with that.

I did not put my family through law school so that we could continue to scrounge for our survival. There is nothing ladylike or feminine about not knowing how I will pay rent, heat my home, or feed my family.

Nothing is charming about asking friends for money. I do not feel nostalgic for sleepless nights
anticipating the next $500 emergency that could push my family into bankruptcy.

My goal is to someday make over $200k a year and, oddly enough, there’s a part of me that is
embarrassed. I feel like single mothers are only supposed to want enough money to meet their family’s basic daily needs. I worry that people will think I am selfish when I say that I want so much more.

I want to…

  • have six months of emergency savings,
  • easily take care of minor medical emergencies,
  • give my kids music and art lessons,
  • buy a house and own it outright,
  • fill my home with comfortable furniture,
  • hire a landscaper to take care of my yard,
  • buy a car that’s new instead of used,
  • go on family vacations,
  • retire in style with plenty to spare, and
  • leave an inheritance for my children and grandchildren.

I won’t apologize or listen to the voices telling me I’m greedy or bad for pursuing money. If men can
pursue profitable careers and wealth without guilt, so can I.

Through the community that we are building at FRW, we are empowering more single mothers to
pursue money unapologetically.

Money means options, freedom, safety, and comfort.

There is no reason to settle for less.

Author: Lisa Sledge

Am I a Hero?

Sometimes people are very kind and tell me I’m a hero for getting through school as a single mom. Usually, it’s the people who didn’t see the nitty-gritty, up close, personal details of the train wreck I was throughout law school. Have you ever seen a person with anxiety, panic, depression, and PTSD go through intense and unrelenting pressure, uncertainty, and deep exhaustion for over three years? I’m here to tell you that it got ugly. When people tell me I’m a hero, it’s more generous than I deserve. Although I appreciate your kindness, I need to tell you all about the people who are my heroes:

1) My parents. They were worried when I started law school, and rightfully so, but when they saw that I was going forward with it they backed me up 110%. They lived far away but never stopped calling to check on me. They never stopped asking me about school and the kids and my life. They bent over backwards to help me financially with whatever they could spare. They would visit at least once a year and take care of my kids so I could study during regular daylight hours and sleep at night. They celebrated my mediocre grades as though I was hugely successful.

2) My professors, classmates, and the law school in general. How many law professors are not only tolerant of children in their classroom but welcoming to those children as well? How many law school students are patient with the little five-year-old girl putting together My Little Pony puzzles and handing out crayon drawings as gifts during class. How many professors are willing to laugh it off when the little boy watching Woody the Woodpecker laughs out loud? My environmental law professor once let my son come to the front of the class and tell everyone a joke he learned about littering. These professors and classmates not only welcomed my children but made them feel ten feet tall and brilliant.

A small handful of professors also took time to develop a relationship with me, to know me, encourage me, help me, and keep me from giving up. I love them. I am so grateful for them.

3) My aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who gave financial and emotional support, helped watch my children during the crunch of final exams, and who didn’t criticize or judge me for my struggles.

4) The anonymous person who slipped that envelope of $700 into my mailbox and the countless angels who dropped off bags of food, Christmas presents, and gift cards to Target or Old Navy so I could buy new clothes for my kids.

5) The bishop(s) who periodically helped me with bills, food, and the fees for our counseling and therapy appointments.

6) My counselor, who helped me realize that it was okay not to apply for law review and okay not to be in the top half of my class. I didn’t want to be on law review, I was terrified that it would be too much for me, and incredible health professional taught me how to give myself permission not to do everything. He helped me accept that success in school would look different at 36 with two children than it did when I was 24 years old and had no children.

7) The friends who stayed my friends even though I was a sobbing, anxious, hysterical train wreck. I either neglected all my friends during law school or I burdened them with exhausting ramblings about my problems, fears, and anxieties. God bless all of you for your patience and love.

8) MY KIDS. They never complained. Really. They didn’t ever whine. They were impossibly brave. They trusted me to get us through difficult times even though I didn’t trust myself. They still tell me, on hard days, “You can do it, Mom, because we’re the family that does hard things and we never give up.”

So, it’s sweet when people say I’m a hero. It really is. The truth, however, is that every hero is an ordinary person with real problems and whose success depends on a network of other ordinary people. If you’re a single mother student, or if you are a person who is kind at your core and interested in helping single mothers, please join our community at Freedom for Resilient Women. The world needs as many ordinary heroes as it can get… and so do we.

Author: Lisa Sledge