[StBernard] Expanding higher ed access for low income students

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri May 18 20:40:48 EDT 2007


I could give a long, long response to your comments, but I'll sum it up by
saying this...you are (were) exactly the kind of student that "should"
qualify for some type of assistance, but would NOT, will not under the what
Blanco proposes. Remember, you're going by 1990's standards or criteria of
who qualifid and who didn't. I'm talking about the present day and more
specifically what Blanco is proposing, and the fact this is all politically
motivated by an election year.

But still, in general, I've never been a big believer in programs based
"solely" on a needs criteria - remember, I'm a Libertarian. And since you
felt in necessary to tell your personal story, I'll say mine is pretty much
a ditto to yours. The only thing different is I wanted to attend Loyola
University - which I did and graduated, and now kinda wish I'd gone to UNO.
This is because my parents didn't have a red cent to send me to college, so
I borrowed a lot of money from the government, which I only completed paying
back recently. Being from a middle class income family, I never qualified
for any type of grants that would sustain me through college, but I
understood it was "my choice" to attend an expensive private university. I
was never upset with my parents for not saving any money for my college - it
was their belief (as they preached to me many times) - that college was
something I had to want for myself and if I had to foot the cost then that
would give me the incentive to do well and succeed....and I have to kinda
agree with their philosophy. After all, it was my responsibility to find a
way to make it through college if that's I wanted.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my Jesuit education, it's just that looking
back I realize the institution I graduated from would not have made much
difference in what I ended up doing for a career. Like you, I held down
every and any kind of job I could get to make ends meet. And to tell you
the truth, how else can I feel but that all other students should have to
prove their worth as you and I did. In other words, if I could do it (and I
didn't consider myself to be exceptional), I can't see how kids today
shouldn't be able to do it.

And YES, you were a good return on the taxpayers investment, but as I said,
that was some 15 years ago? and this is a different time - not to mention
you might have been a rare exception. Also, you mentioned federal
statistics and assistance programs.....we're only talking about Blanco
proposal which will only be a state funded and administered program - and I
find it to be very politically motivated in a time when this state really
doesn't have a pot to xxxx in.


----- Original Message -----

> John,



> While not trying to expand too far on my past, I was one of these lower

> income people in 1990 when I graduated from school. My parents weren't

> educated either, so I didn't know a lot about grants, loans, TOPS wasn't

> invented yet (I think), etc. So, come Dec. 1989, I was finished school and

> went to work while I waited for graduation. No counselors called to advise

> me of my options or make an appointment for me to discuss them. Due to a

> death of my grandfather in 1988, I lost 3 credits in my sophomore year,

> putting me a 1/2 year behind. Guess what, I took a couple of years off


> school to make money and save for college, because I thought that was my

> only option. Well, I ended up getting married and having my daughter.


> she has been one of the best things for me, it forced me to live my life

> backwards. I finally went back to school in 2001 and graduated in 2004,


> I started work on my Master's, which Katrina washed away, including all of

> my research.


> Let me spout a few things here, what many people don't realize is that

> over 85% (at least prior to 2005) of people receiving public assistance in

> the US are white, Hispanics may be rising but not to the proportions of

> whites. While I truly believe in the American dream and if you work hard


> can make it, it doesn't always happen that way. What you, and many like


> don't realize is that there is a huge number of Louisianaians who live in

> VERY rural areas. Many of those people take a large proportion of what


> live on from the land, which by the way was destroyed by Katrina and or

> Rita. These STATE options are sometimes the first time some high schoolers

> will have heard of "grants" for college due to local papers. Oh yeah, and

> one more thing, I graduated high school with barely a 1.5 average- no

> scholarship here, but had a 28 on the ACT. I graduated from UNO with a 3.2

> average carrying a minimum of 16 credits hours a semester with two jobs


> my daughter. I went on to work for the state, got selected and put on

> Walter's advisory counsel, represented Walter at a few state meetings, and

> wrote a bill with Nita Hutter and went to the state capitol to argue it

> through. AM I the exception, I don't think so, because my state job was at

> UNO, where I talked to students daily who were all fighting to just stay


> school so they didn't end up in dead end jobs like there parents. FASFA

> barely covered tuition, some didn't qualify for TOPS as you so aptly put


> because many of these kids were working through high school and maintained

> mediocre at best grades. Books on average, for me per semester, were about

> $600. That was using amazon and buying used. If you get new students who


> not computer savvy, say there first year, they can spend about $1200.


> not even discuss living expenses, especially now in the greater New


> area.

> It's a no win with people like you, if they bust their humps working


> pay for school (including high school for prom, rings, graduation, etc.-


> senior year cost me close to $2000) , and earn less than stellar grades,

> then it's because they 'really didn't want school." If they need grants,

> they should have "earned" it through grades in high school, even if they

> didn't have the proper support to assist in that- i.e. parents who are

> educated enough to help with homework and such (like my parents) or


> put the time in for studies. Then, if they manage to get through school,


> many counselors have one on one meetings with students to discuss what


> choices are- not many. Usually that is reserved for the class favorites,

> including in my case.


> So my question to you is, did I give a return on my investment?


> Wendy Hall

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