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Octuplet mom: I’ll use student loans to raise my kids

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets has no income and intends to use student loans to care for them and her other six children at home. “I have my own way,” Nadya Suleman said. “It’s an alternative way, but it works.”
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets has no income and intends to use student loans to care for them and her other six children at home, all under the age of 8.

“Do you have any income at all?” TODAY’s Ann Curry asked Nadya Suleman during her exclusive interview with the 33-year-old mother of 14 children.

“At the moment, no,” Suleman replied, adding that she intended to use student loans “temporarily” to pay for her family’s care.

“Right now, you don’t have an income to provide for your children?” Curry repeated.

“Probably just with the student loans,” Suleman said. “I am providing for my children. I am. And that will probably run out by the time I go back to school. So I have my own way. It’s an alternative way, but it works.”

Public backlash
Curry told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira that while many people view the birth of octuplets as a miracle, “there has been an intense public backlash,” particularly from people who see the cost of raising the children ultimately being borne by taxpayers.

“I’m responsible. I am not on welfare,” Suleman told Curry. “I don’t want to disparage or seem like I’m disparaging any individual who uses welfare as a form of a resource. It can be a valuable resource. I’ve chosen never to go on welfare. I feel that it is my responsibility to do what I can to provide for my children.”

But published reports say that Suleman is receiving at least two forms of public assistance.

All of Suleman’s children are under the age of 8, and she now has 10 children under the age of 2. According to The Los Angeles Times, three of her older children have disabilities and receive Supplemental Security Income. In addition, Suleman reportedly receives $490 a month in food stamps from the state of California.

NBC chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman has estimated that the cost of delivering the octuplets and keeping them in neonatal intensive care until they are ready to leave the hospital will be $1.5 million to $3 million. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, where the babies will remain for several weeks, has asked California’s medical insurance program, Medi-Cal, to pay the tab.

‘Not welfare’
Michael Furtney, a publicist for Suleman, told The Associated Press that Suleman does not think of the public funds she does receive as welfare.

“In Nadya's view, the money that she gets from the food stamp program ... and the resources disabilities payments she gets for her three children are not welfare,” he said. “They are part of programs designed to help people with need, and she does not see that as welfare.”

From 1997 to 2006, Suleman was employed by a state mental hospital. She was disabled in a riot in 1999 and received disability payments totaling about $165,000 until those payments stopped during her pregnancy.

Suleman said she intends to go back to college in the fall to get a degree in counseling.She told Curry that while she was still able to work, she saved as much money as she could as she lived with her mother, Angela.

“I was able to work double shifts — constantly working double shifts. I was hoarding my money — nonstop working. I really didn’t have much of a social life,” Suleman said. “My friends would go, ‘Are you saving for a house, a car?’

“ ‘No, I’m saving for babies.’ ”

After trying for seven years to get pregnant, Suleman turned to in vitro fertilization, paying for “several” of the procedures she has undergone with the money she saved.

Curry asked how much money she spent on in vitro procedures.

“I don’t know. I would say close to 100,” Suleman replied.

“A hundred thousand dollars?” Curry asked.

“Probably,” Suleman said. “Yeah, definitely.”

Watch Dateline at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10, for more on the octuplets and their six siblings.