With Destini going off to college in the Fall, we’ve been furiously applying for grants and scholarship as if her future depends upon it…because it does. With seven kids in the house, surely several of them will seek further education. And since the earned dollar only goes so far, we were hoping to spread our very limited extra funds over the next few years. Because…now pay attention…in the next eight years, all seven of our children graduate from high school. That’s a lot of futures hanging in limbo…relying on us. You do the math.
And in this lengthy application process, while we search and seek money opportunities to offset the costs, we have learned one definitive fact…
If your parents are married. If they make money. If they went to college. If they are doing everything right, everything the world says is good and moral…it doesn’t matter how many kids they are trying to support, or how high your GPA is, or how many leadership qualities you display…you don’t qualify for crap in financial aid.
If, however, your parents are single, unemployed, or uneducated…your college can be practically free…at least on the community college level.
I’m not a believer in freebies. I don’t take advantage of free programs, even if I qualify; I don’t agree with unlimited handouts if a person is capable of working; and I don’t even let my kids get that free cookie in the bakery section at the grocery store because I want them to know there is a price to pay for everything.
I don’t have credit cards. I drive old beater trucks with no payments. Within the year we will be mortgage free because we are choosing to do without, in order to be self-sufficient. I believe in working for every single thing I have. My point is…we aren’t throwing our money around, and yet there is still no way we could pay for their education, even if we wanted to. Yet our income is determining Destini’s eligibility for scholarships she would otherwise be qualified to receive…based on all her hard work.
But I also live in reality. And the reality is education is both expensive and necessary. I believe some of my children should go to college…not all…and I believe they deserve the same chance at potential academic scholarships as anyone else. I do not care for the phrase “show financial need” when it comes to deciding who gets to improve themselves, and who doesn’t. An essay competition should be merit based…not determined by your parents marital status or gross adjusted income.
But because we’ve been married for twenty years….because we’ve kept our family together…because we have beat the odds and remained a two parent household…they don’t qualify for aid.
Because my husband has been lucky enough to retain solid employment for those same twenty years, because he works 13 hour shifts, with his well-worn hands, in subzero temperatures, 900 miles from home and misses half of his children’s lives to do so…they don’t qualify for aid.
Because at thirty years old I struggled my way through college while parenting eight kids and didn’t take “no” for an answer when people said it couldn’t be done and I managed to get a college degree four years later…they don’t qualify for aid.
Because we worked hard…struggled through all the crap dealt us by life, and came out okay…our children…those of the middle class blue collar worker…will be the next generation of the under-educated parents, struggling to raise their children, wondering where it all went wrong.
But perhaps there is hope after all…at least our grandchildren will qualify for aid.