MIT was an interesting place. Everyone there was of course the brightest of the bright. The professors taught intense classes, and did intense research, and many did consulting for corporations besides. In fact, MIT arranged it so that every professor worked 4 days a week, leaving the 5th for consulting.
And they paid according, about 80% of the salary a high-quality professor might earn at another prestigious university, or even at a state school.
So JSL often was away on consulting trips. And that left me with the goats and the milking and the chauffeuring and shopping and cooking and gardening, and the three children and dogs and cats. But the extra income made his trips worth every effort. And except for when the heat was horrible, I managed ok. And the kids were helpful and cost-effective and supportive.
But the consulting began to dry up with the wretched economy. He was home more often, and that was a great help, but the diminishing income drained us in pocketbook and spirit. We began to despair.
And now in the fall of 1977, with our oldest child 11 and starting 6th grade, our thoughts turned to college expenses, and we realized we were in big trouble. The University of Massachusetts would just not do, but what else could we manage? We had 7 years to put away enough money for the first child, and the second was just a year behind him. And at that moment we were not putting anything away, we were just barely keeping a hold of our house.
MIT did have a plan for teachers' kids: they would pay half the expenses at any accredited institution in the country. It was just a matter of coming up with the thousands of dollars we would need for the other half.
And that seemed as likely as the economy improving. The very thought left us feeling hopeless.