CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Evan Paras has dreams of becoming a real estate agent one day.
"Just commercial for now, then hopefully move into luxury real estate," he says.
But first, he has to get through the financial struggles that many college students face as they work towards a better future for themselves and their families.
"As I'm supporting myself, I still have to support my mom and contribute to the bills," he says.
Paras is a third-year student at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. When he finishes that degree, he would like to transfer to San Diego State and then get a real estate license.
But the rising costs of college tuition, fees, books and living expenses make that dream seem farther away than ever.
"I think it's an extremely difficult goal," Paras says. "But I know me. I will be able to do it."
He's got help. Paras is part of the California College Promise Grant, which can waive enrollment fees. He also has money from the Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA. And Southwestern's "CARES" program helps pay for things like books and supplies. It even provides gift cards for groceries and transportation.
"If it weren't for those things, I probably wouldn't be here at Southwestern College right now," Paras says. "I'd probably have gone to work first."
Still, Paras, who is looking for a job while he goes to school, says things can get tricky. He sometimes struggles to pay his phone bill, which makes the job hunt more difficult.
"As I'm currently looking for job interviews, it's hard to know exactly when someone's going to call me if my phone line is down," he says.
When times are tough, he looks to his family for inspiration. Paras says his sister and mother keep him motivated.
"That was my goal since I was 10, to work to provide for my family, specifically for my mother... Just seeing her push through life, fight it out, and live the best she can for my sister and me, just to make sure we're being kids the way we are, 100% of my inspiration comes from her," he says.
So he keeps fighting, trying to Make it in San Diego as a college student, to one day make it as a professional.
ABC 10News will follow Paras throughout this school year to show the financial ups and downs of college students as he works towards a degree.