Crushing debt makes it impossible to continue schooling

Res Stecker

Some people say the lives of a college student are grand, usually I totally discount these remarks as uninformed, but for the last little while I had been living relatively comfortably.

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But now, the “good times” are finally over. I received my financial aid report back from CSU on Tuesday and my universe all of sudden collapsed as fear and panic about my future took over.

A bit of background for you all: I had been receiving around $11k a year in grants and scholarships for each of my previous three years of attending this university. This had been a blessing of which I was so thankful for, as it alleviated my costs of going to school, and I had to “only” take out around 19 thousand dollars in loans over the last three years to cover the costs of attendance.

Unfortunately, and totally inexplicably the well has seemingly run dry for me for the 2013/14 school year. That’s right, I looked at my financial aid report for the coming year and there was only a miniscule amount awarded to me; enough to cover the proposal to raise tuition another 9 percent, and maybe allow me to do my laundry once a month next year but hardly enough to get by on. Let alone give me any sort of hope of paying for more than the $23 thousand proposed costs of attending this institution.

I am simply looking for an answer as to why it has become necessary for me to double my loans of the first three years here just to pay for the last one? I just want to know what would cause me to no longer receive the financial aid I had been for the last 3 years.

I have been doing better than ever in the grades category, as I am on track to achieve a 3.6 GPA this semester, which I was hoping might make it possible to seek out additional scholarship opportunities, instead I am going to need to start practicing my “do you want fries with that routine?”

That is not to say that I mind working. I believe that everyone capable of working should do so as long as it is necessary for them to. This is why I have been putting in thousands of hours at a job during my college career on top of my weekly education studies. It helped me offset my expenses and made some loans unnecessary, but I would need to triple my work hours to offset the loss of financial aid.

I have come to the conclusion that I am simply losing all of my financial aid due to my parents. Now I love my parents, I really do. But the fact that my financial aid, or rather my financial well-being and indeed my entire future rests on them is absolutely absurd now that I am 21. Apparently my parents made just a bit too much-we’re talking a few hundred dollars here- for me to qualify for aid, like the Pell Grant. On top of that, they did not file taxes until the last minute, apparently hurting my chances for grants even more.

It seems totally idiotic and downright backwards to base my future off that of my parents. Quite simply, I do not receive a single cent from them in order to pay for school, housing, or food, further exacerbating the lunacy of calculating my needs off their success or lack thereof.

I am almost more upset with the system than I am with the actual result of not receiving critical aid. There really needs to be a change in the way that aid is disbursed to people. If my parents make just $1000 more than the cutoff of whether I am in a “needy” family or not, than I am also cutoff and that just does not make sense. Quite simply, my family makes enough to support themselves, but a 23 thousand dollar expense is literally half of their income, and it would be impossible for them to pay for me.

If the way we disbursed aid was based on academic qualifications and true need measured on an individual basis, instead of an arbitrary income line, I and others-whom I am sure exist- would not have to be thrown into this sort of financial limbo, where our families supposedly make too much to get aid, but not enough to help us with the costs.

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Res Stecker is a junior international studies major. His columns appear Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.