Friday, September 04, 2009


Sometimes I wonder if the battle to stay positive is just worth it. This comes at the end of an exceptionally frustrating week.

On Monday, the womanchild found out she wouldn't receive the financial aid she had been told she had for this semester of college. This comes after a rigorous round of providing more and more paperwork to her intended college's financial aid office when we were told that she would receive both grants and loans. Then she received word that because of her freshman year GPA, her applications would be reviewed with consideration of special circumstances. Those circumstances included scheduling too many hours, illness, family difficulties, the death of a family member or exceptional circumstances occurring at her previous college.

C. dropped out of college in the middle of her second semester because she knew she just couldn't handle it then. Two weeks before graduating from high school as class valedictorian, she found her father literally in mid death rattle. For months afterward, she went through PTSD and severe depression. If this wasn't enough trauma for a 17 year old girl, her room-mate attempted suicide twice while they were living together. Both times, my daughter was the one to get her to the emergency room before her parents withdrew her from college. I wonder how many kids would come through their freshman year with stellar grades after these experiences.

After dropping out, C. worked hard though. She got a job, decided that she would get back into school and accepted that until she proved her seriousness about succeeding in college, the financial responsibility would be hers. She planned on moving to another city, found a nice place to live and good roommates. She saved up enough money for three months rent and expenses. She arranged for a transfer with her job. She stayed on top of all the college paperwork requirements with minimal assistance from me. To access her tuition fund (which I don't manage) again, all she had to do was earn decent grades and turn in all receipts for this one semester.

Last week we heard that her financial aid had to be reviewed and we gathered all the paperwork requested about extenuating circumstances -- another copy of her father's death certificate, a letter from her psychologist, a letter from me. The people at her former college were completely unresponsive. They wouldn't return a single call. Now that we're no longer feeding them tens of thousands of dollars, why should they care?

On Monday her appeal to receive financial aid was denied because of her grades. The circumstances affecting her performance weren't deemed serious enough to have had a serious effect. In fact she was told that her grades were the only criteria considered because her father's death occurred three and a half months before she began classes. She is devastated and scared for her future. She's job hunting for something that will pay better and is seriously considering Americorps.

I've been trying so hard to encourage her to look at this as just a temporary setback, to stay up beat and focus on the future. At the same time, I'm angry. Angry at that stupid review board that seems to neither know nor care anything about young people or how grief and trauma affect them. I'm angry at myself for letting her down again. I'm angry about my own circumstances for not being able to be more help to her. I'm angry at her dad for contributing to this situation, and being angry at someone who's dead just sucks.

Today, C. asked me how I can believe in a personally engaged, loving God. I started talking about how God is not here to make our lives easier, but it just dwindled out. I really couldn't give her a good answer.


Blogger Gannet Girl said...

I have just read this in complete horror. BECAUSE HE DIED 3.5 MONTHS EARLIER? What kind of universe do those people live in? SEND THEM TO ME and I will personally throttle them. Then I will stomp on them and throw them out the window and tell that STUPID SCHOOL to hire someone who knows something about life.

I know I have written a zillion times that we all do this however we do it. Another woman at seminary one day (now a minister) told me that when her mother died she took a full semester completely off. I went back after a quarter because there were good friends I wanted to be with, and I think that was a wise decision, but I also know that I was a complete zombie for that quarter. I made outstanding grades, and I don't remember a single thing. About my classes, anyway. I do remember feeling like I was in a parallel universe. And I still am, obviously - I looked at today's RevGals Friday Five, all questions about what recharges - uplifts - invigorates - you, and all I could think was: I don't have that kind of experience in my life anymore. Recharging and uplifting are not possibilities. Maybe someday, but not a mere year later.

And it's all made worse by the fact that your daughter has worked so hard to make school a possibility for herself again. My 13yo stepbrother found his mother's body so I actually know a tiny bit, albeit not much, about this - enough to know that what your daughter has done is amazing.

I wish that I were somebody who was somebody so that I could write a letter for her and turn this mess around. I am so, so sorry.

September 04, 2009 2:36 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

I have both asked and been asked the same question about God being personally involved. I didn't have much of an answer either.

I do know He's in control, but that really doesn't help the here and now, does it?

I know that Financial Aid has no feelings. When daugher was in college on a Pell Grant, she had to drop out because her 4 month old was diagnosed with cancer and sent to St. Jude Children's Hospital. The financial aid manager made her pay back the grant. I couldn't believe it either. But he did.

Your story is so sad, and yes, I'm sure it's not easy to stay upbeat and positive. But the sun will shine again, and this trial will be behind yhou. This was no one's fault, and it IS just a temporary set back. Even though it doesn't feel like it for your daughter, it will be ok. It will just be different than the original plan. Don't give up, and don't let her give up either.

I'm sorry my words are terrible inadequate....

(The 4 month old is now 7 years old, and healthy. He didn't have sarcoma (cancer), he had a hematoma caused by hemophilia, which he still has, but he's doing fine.)

September 04, 2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

First of all, this is NOT YOUR FAULT, so I don't want to hear anything about you being mad at yourself.

Second of all...consider this: The economic downturn has affected everybody and everything, not the least of which are institutes of higher learning. Education was not the kind of things the previous administration cared about, so universities are indeed suffering. The unfortunate fact is that the money just is not there anymore--for grants, or loans, or financial aid of any kind. I imagine the people in those offices have to make some pretty ugly decisions that they truly regret. (And obviously they are not schooled in the people skills they would need to make the situation easier on those they have to refuse... :P)

I urge C to try to see it, as you said, as just a bump in the road. If she keeps on working as hard as she has, she WILL succeed. A door will open for her somewhere if she doesn't give up. She is SUCH a good kid...

September 04, 2009 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter is in a very similar situation. She learned she lost ALL her financial aid and student loans just a few days before the start of the fall semester. She is just starting her senior year. In my daughter's case, she does very well in everything but math. She got an F on a summer math class and they canceled her aid. She has learning disabilities that impact math more than anything else. It was a 5 week class. Her father had a stroke during the 3rd week followed by a bout with her own very serious autoimmune issues. We are appealing but I swear they do not care. They do not care how hard she has worked and persevered in the face of many difficulties. They do not care that she has defied the odds by even being in college. They do not care that she is getting A's and B's in her other classes. I understand your anger entirely. I'm furious too.

September 04, 2009 6:56 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

I would be furious at her previous school. Had they sent a letter stating what happened with the roommate that might have carried a lot of weight. I would call that school and tell them you are going to expose the way they failed to protect your daughter who had just lost her father. Perhaps her psychologist could make a call for a letter which would help an appeal.
As far as God goes I have learned this:
often when I have asked for/prayed for a certain something and it has NOT turned out as I had hoped....something better comes along. We cannot see the entire plan, just a snippet in time. Has C thought of going to work for a company who would pay her tuition if she went to night school? It might take longer but it would get her back on the path to an education. One of my nieces does this and she saved money on the side so she can quit the job to finish her last year of school. She is so proud of her accomplishments and will soon have her masters degree. I hate that this happened to C and it shouldn't have. You have no blame in this. If anyone should be blamed it was her previous school. They allowed her to become extremely emotionally vulnerable at a time when she already would be. I would fight that while moving on with a new plan....sometimes when a door closes a window opens. There have been times in my life where I had to force myself to find the window and it's hard. Will be praying for both of you.

September 05, 2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Unbelievable what they have done.
Have you thought about calling the president of the former college and asking for a direct explanation from him for their lack of response? Are there any options to appeal a decision and go over the heads of idiots? Must be those financial folks have never had anything bad happen in their lives......


September 07, 2009 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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September 08, 2009 8:47 AM  
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