Opinion Piece: What Do You Do When There Isn’t Any Money for You? (Part 1)

Every semester begins with the same process: confirm your class schedule, get ready for school, and pay your bill. For some, the bill is 100% covered.  No worries at all. For others, this is a challenge. And it’s a challenge that one student here had to face this fall.

Two weeks into her senior year, Jane* faced the imminent threat of having to depart campus due to finances. With less than a year left, Jane* had a tuition gap that she was unsure she’d be able to meet. Turning to The Office of Financial Aid for support, she was advised to take out a private loan. Simple, right? But after looking into this option, Jane* found that she couldn’t secure a co-signer. Jane* faced an Indiana-Jones-type dead end, with the boulder of dropped classes coming at full speed. Her next option? Scholarships.

Upon hearing Jane’s* story, I was moved. After experiencing a similar situation, I had some insight into her feelings. Despair is only the tip of the iceberg. So, I jumped into action and began looking into any and all available resources. My research yielded some startling and surprising results.

For starters, on the main Embry-Riddle webpage for Financial Aid, I found a link for scholarships. Since Jane* qualifies for several scholarships, I began my deep dive. It turned up some results less than desired but also proffered some open applications that may solve Jane’s* plight. An inkling of good news!

Next, I decided to follow up on this research with some in-person conversations. Stopping at Financial Aid first, I spoke to Tiffany Reed, an Assistant Director in the office. There, I learned that many of the scholarships on the website “cycle annually” and was given sage advice: use a spreadsheet, look into The Ultimate Scholarship Book, and “the earlier the better.” I also learned that the application for endowed scholarships opens in December for students with ≥ 3.0 GPAs.

My next stop was to the Women’s and Diversity Center to see its director, Melanie Wilson, Ph.D. Having heard that she can do anything, maybe even magic, I spoke with her about Jane’s* story and my research. Melanie had this to say: “Our students from underrepresented groups…need to be supported by this institution if we are serious about attracting, retaining, and graduating these students.” She then proceeded to give me a packet of scholarships to pass to Jane*, and anyone else for that matter.

Armed with all this information, the next logical step was to get Jane* on the computer to apply their life away. But there was a catch: Jane*, at this point in my search, had 24 hours before that boulder wrecked her future. Scholarships aren’t guaranteed and take months to even process. It looked like Jane* was going to have to leave. At the penultimate hour, however, a scholarship was found that Jane* qualified for and a private lender pitched in to help her bridge the gap. But Jane* still, as of the publication of this article, isn’t all the way there. Let’s hope these scholarships I found will provide the solution. Find an update on Jane in the next issue of “Horizons.”

*Jane is a pseudonym for the student who wishes to not be identified publicly.

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