Friday, November 14, 2008

Money, money, money

All the things I could do,
If I had a little money.
It's a rich man's world"

I spent this morning navigating the many rings of hell that are the Financial Aid department in order to use my AmeriCorps Segal Grant money for my tuition. An hour and a half into the phone calls, I was bawling with frustration.

It made me think of the book Growing Up Literate: Learning from Inner-City Families by Denny Taylor and Catherine Dorsey-Gaines. Taylor and Dorsey-Gaines describe the special literacy required to wade through the bureaucracies involved with food stamps, AFDC, WICS, obligations to report changes of circumstances to the welfare board, notice on assignment of support rights, applications for Housing Assistance Payments Program, applications for Counseling Policy of Urban League, applications for Home Energy Assistance, job applications, etc.

I guess I don't possess this literacy.

Not that I'm in the same dire straits that these families are in. I have some financial assistance from my parents, two bachelor's degrees and work experience should I need to find a job, no children depending on me, a roof over my head, and food in the pantry.

I can't stop wondering how these families are able to make sense of all these forms and systems to get assistance from the government without letting the frustration kill them. My stressful experience this morning trying to figure out how I was going to pay for graduate school without my grant money still has me breathing hard and caressing my throbbing head.

With $5 in my checking account, and tears scattered across the room, I've determined that my dream of going to school full-time without working is IMPOSSIBLE. I was a fool to think I could manage that. I was a fool to think I could pay for graduate school all by myself. I don't want any loans, and I don't want to ask my family for more help, but if I want to get my masters degree I'll have to do it.

If only education was a more lucrative field like law or medicine. Then taking out a loan wouldn't seem so terrifying because I could be certain of paying it back quickly.

So now I'm hunting for a job that can help me pay for the rest of my master's degree. Anyone in the Gainesville area hiring a wanna-be education doctoral student with a pension for blogging and crying over the phone to financial aid officers?

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