As I've mentioned before, a few years ago I attended Salt Lake Community College. To briefly recap, even though I had a high GPA, I hit a road block that permanently weeded me out of academia - I couldn't afford tuition one semester.
Like most students in the United States, I had taken out thousands of dollars in loans to gain access to school. But, having grown up low-income, I was terrified about facing a future consumed by debt. Especially knowing that I'm taking a huge risk with school in the first place, where, as a high school dropout, the likelihood that I'd be weeded out was high. So one semester I refused to take out financial aid. I attempted to pay for it myself, about $1,000, out-of-pocket.
Soon, it was clear that this wasn't realistically possible. I was not able to pay for a semester out-of-pocket.
I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how or where to get $1,000. So the college froze my records. As I worked to save up enough to pay my debt, the community college quickly sold it to a collection agency. Who subsequently doubled the amount owed.
Fast forward to three years later, where I had resolved that my fantasy of being the first in my family to obtain a college degree was in the past. I had, like thousands of others, dropped out of college. Despite my good grades and high GPA, I'd been 'weeded out' and pushed out of the rungs of U.S. higher education. Not due to being a poor student - but entirely due to money.
It really upset me. And it felt like yet another insurmountable wall, barring me from pursuing a trajectory that I had the right to pursue.
But the day has finally come. Two hours ago my debt to Salt Lake Community College was paid off. From saving what I could and with the help of my brother (who has landed himself a well-paying computer programming job), it's actually been paid.
It doesn't feel real yet. And I'm so appreciative for his help.
I'm going to go back to school. ASAP.
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