By Joseph Harkins
NEW YORK CITY _ A couple of dollars and a dream were certainly worth an old college try.
Now, one lucky 18-year-old New Yorker will receive a graduation gift that keeps on giving – for the rest of his life.
What began with a “gut feeling,” ended, Tuesday, after Salo returned his winning ticket to begin collecting $1,000 in weekly payments for the remainder of his life; no wonder the “surreal” moment has not rubbed off yet on the fortunate student.
“This is the first thing I’ve ever won,” said Salo, in an interview with the New York Daily News. “It’s a good way to start off life.”
The $2 investment will pay immediate dividends, perhaps, with the purchase of a new car – “something in (his) price range -- but Salo has plans for the future as well.
“I’m definitely going to use it (the money) for college,” said Salo, who plans to go “out-of-state” to school to study electrical engineering, but won’t say where. “I’m going to invest in myself.”
Salo, who lives in Sheepshead Bay with his single mother, a sibling and an uncle, wasn't sure he'd ever be able to afford college.
Consider just this week, the U.S. Department of Education reported that the average tuition at a four-year public university climbed 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, fueled by state budget cuts for higher education and increases of 40 percent and more at universities in states including Georgia, Arizona and California.
DOE’s annual look at college affordability also found significant price increases at the nation's private universities, including at for-profit institutions, where the net price for some schools is now twice as high as Harvard.
Like many students forced to take out large loans to meet tuition demands, Salo may have had to settle for studying near home or at a community college that didn't align with his goals in order to save money.
That is no longer a problem, which some simple math can’t solve. If Salo lives to be 80, he is destined to collect more than $3 million before taxes. Not bad for the contest’s youngest winner, who beat odds of 1-in-7,896,000.
“We were kind of worried about paying for college,” said his mother, Rabia. “I said if I had to work two jobs I would do it, but he’s going to the school he wants.”