Does It Really Pay Off?

April 10, 2008
By Jessica Colabufo, Berwyn, IL

My finances as well as my parents’ finances are looming over my head, and all I can think about is the fact that I’m going to college to pay off going to college.

Nobody was ever responsible enough to save up a college fund for me, and I’ve never been allowed to work during the school year. I have zero cash as far as college goes, and it’s not like FAFSA can do much for me.

My school stresses the importance of filling out the FAFSA, as do all the colleges, and I’ve come to find that it won’t do much good for me (always an AP honors student) because I’m not on welfare and because I’m not part of the racial minority. I am part of a minority though. I’m part of the minority of students who make good grades and don’t get awarded anything financially.

All filling out the FAFSA did for me was give me a gigantic headache. I couldn’t find my Social Security card when I went to fill out my FAFSA so I just used the Social Security number my school provided me with on my transcript. Little did I know that it was wrong because I had never had any need for it up until recently. I couldn’t go back and edit it either because you need your Social Security number to login to make changes, and it wouldn’t work because a.) my correct Social Security number didn’t match up with my incorrect Social Security number on the form and b.) the database would no longer recognize me because according to the Social Security Department, I didn’t exist. They should really fix their website, because I had to fill out the FAFSA all over again, only to be told that I pretty much qualify for nothing.

My dad makes around $90,000 a year so it’s just assumed that we can afford $18,000+ a year so that I can attend Columbia. However, we’ve been in debt since I can remember, and now I’m scrambling to apply for scholarships and student loans.

The scholarships that I can apply for seem to be limited though because I’m not Mexican, or black, or being supported by the government, or have some life-changing disease. I’m not special enough. The good grades don’t matter. Theatre doesn’t matter. The school newspaper doesn’t matter. And if I had bothered to join National Honor Society, I’m sure that wouldn’t matter either.

The scholarships that my school gives out are mostly aimed towards Mexicans because over half of them populate my school, and I am only Italian, Irish, Bohemian, and German. I only qualified for two scholarships, and one of them asked me what I would do with my money when I got it (kind of a rhetorical question, don’t you think?) and the other asked me about time travel. I filled out neither. How am I supposed to take these people seriously?

I have no issue with scholarships that are for minorities, and I certainly have no issue with minorities, but I think it’s time that the educational system recognizes the fact that these aren’t the only people who need help. I shouldn’t be punished with debt for the rest of my life because of my parents’ mistakes, and neither should anyone else. It almost makes me want to not go to college at all, and I refuse to go to community college for two years. If I’m going to be in debt, I might as well be really in debt.

As the first person in my family to go to college, I feel like I should be excited, but all I can think about is cash. Or, rather, my lack thereof.

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This article has 1 comment.

TripleJump77 said...
on Aug. 28 2008 at 6:03 pm
Wow, I really love this article of yours. I've been struggling with a very similiar situation. Although my family is not in debt, we don't have any extra money because we help support several other family members who are older and cannot work. I've also recently noticed how, like you've said, minorities seem to have the advantage when going to college. I have a friend who is African American and has a lower grade point average than I, yet already has a completely paid full-ride scholorship to the college of her choice. I definately agree with your last paragraph about community college too. This is a great article, good job. Also, good luck on getting money for college.


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