Where’s the Money?

Apr 6, 2018

Words by Alexa Marco 

The other day, I was emailed and asked to take a survey on my thoughts of financial aid. Usually, this is something I would delete and not partake in, but this year I am feeling particularly irritated with financial aid. So I decided I’d give them my feedback and to tell them to stick it where the sun don’t shine (if you know what I mean).

OK, so those weren’t my exact words. However, I definitely made sure to tell them how I really feel. These feelings don’t come from greed or arrogance, so let me explain myself.

I was always told how stressful college is, and I believed it. However, it wasn’t until I actually got to college when I realized that “stressful” has a whole new meaning.

Between exams and weekly quizzes, it was obvious that I wasn’t able to just float along and receive a handful of As each semester as I had done in high school. Studying is not my thing. Compared to my friends, I definitely still am the one who studies the least, given that they are all science majors and have a lot more work each day than I do. Nonetheless, I’ve found myself swarmed this year with projects, case studies, essays, working part-time and mixing in some time with friends.

I have been working since I was 16. I needed money for a car and to save for college. During my freshman year of college, I decided a job was not my No. 1 priority because I wanted to focus on my studies and get acclimated to college life, which was ultimately a good decision. However, as I sit here writing this, I have come to the realization that even with a job, I am still your typical broke college student.

“How am I still broke even though I’m a working girl now?” you may ask. Well, between car payments and rent on an apartment that probably costs way too much to just be living in Kent, Ohio, my money goes straight to my bills. This is something I wish I could explain to financial aid. Each year, I apply for aid and click the option of “independent student,” which means I am paying for school on my own. Don’t get me wrong, my mom and stepdad help when they can, but some families just can’t afford to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for each one of their kids to go to college. Financial aid assumes each set of parents is helping their child or even paying in full for their tuition when, in reality, this isn’t the case for a lot of students. Instead, we get stuck taking out extra loans even outside of financial aid because we weren’t awarded enough to cover the full costs.

A lot of my friends don’t have to work during the school year or have parents who pay for most of their expenses. But a lot of my friends are on their own, like I am, and are forced to accept the fact they’ll be in debt as soon as they get their diploma. I understand this week’s blog definitely sounds repetitive and full of complaining, but hey, a girl has to make her point! People so quickly assume that my generation is lazy and unfocused and too attached to technology, but that isn’t the case. If anything, my generation is one that works hard for what it has and spends thousands of dollars each year to go to a good school and earn a degree. College, no matter where you go, is vastly expensive. But it’s a choice. We choose to put ourselves through at least four more years of studying and testing in order to achieve the goals our families and society have set for us.

Overall, I think financial aid tries its best in rewarding students who need financial assistance, but I don’t think they do their best in empathizing. I realize that, unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to change mine or others’ relationships with financial aid; however, I do think that getting my voice out there is important, especially on topics such as this.