I have been bummed out the last two days. Actually, I was angry the first day and bummed out the second. Today is the third day and I’m angry but not bummed. What is the reason for my anger and bums?
As most of you know, I will be attending Southern Methodist University (SMU) this fall. I accepted their offer of admissions a few months ago. I accepted it before finding out what my financial aid package would be. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure of the overall tuition/fees cost. I knew it was going to be expensive because SMU is a private university, but I didn’t think it would be much more expensive than my undergraduate school, St.Edward’s University, because it too is a private university.
Thursday the financial package information came in. When I looked at the tuition cost I was shocked. Tution is $68,000 for the year. That’s without fees, books, etc. Everything at St. Eds was only $25,000 a year. Sticker shock. It’s not like SMU is NYU or anything.
But what really pissed me off was the financial aid package. It dismayed me. SMU is offering me a $5,000 scholarship. Great. That knocks the tuition costs down to $63,000. What about FAFSA? Nothing. Nothing from FAFSA. Just the offer of student loans. Yes. That’s helpful, but come on!
$63,000 is more than market value of my family’s house. $63,000 is more than the value of my family’s house, our 3 cars, and whatever we have in our bank accounts against our debt. $63,000 is more than our family’s net worth.
What the fuck am I supposed to do?
That’s what grad school is now, right? In going to be taking out $63,000 in loans and leveraging it against the prospects of a CPA license and a professional career. In what world is that not gambling?
I had a similar choice 4 years ago. The choice was between NYU or Babson and $40,000+ a year in tuition/etc. The feelings were the same, but the decision was different. I was pissed. I was a great student, but for each of those schools my parents would have to take out $20,000 in loans a year. How fucked up is that? They’re going to be on the hook for my mistakes? I have two little sisters. They shouldn’t have to suffer for my mistakes. Fuck that. I’d rather die than leave my family in serious debt. The decision hurt, but it was simple. I couldn’t go to NYU or Babson.
Now I’m pissed for the same reason. $63,000? Really? You guys know I’m poor right? You know I went to public school, right? You know I’m from a 1st generation immigrant family, right? You know english is my second language, right? Federal government, just loans? Don’t I deserve some real financial aid? Am I not working for the IRS right now? Did I not pay my taxes last year? Education is the great equalizer in society. Why can’t the poor have equal access to it. Yes, I’m very lucky to get this far in life. Does getting a better education still have to be this hard at this level?
America, you’ve disappointed me.
This time the decision is easier. It still hurts, but it’s simple. This time the loans are going to be in my name. No one else is going to be on the hook. It’s a gamble. The biggest gamble in my life so far. But if I had to bet on anything in this world, it is me.