Sunday, July 31, 2016

A free college education

Naysayers are saying it's impossible for the Democratic candidates to promise a free college education to anyone who wants it.  Why?  because it "only pays for tuition."

I can prove it's not. And I did NOT go to a state university, but a private one.

A free college education is what I got during the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency.
Yeah FREE.  I graduated with zero student loans and no debt after 4 years.  How? you may ask.

Here's the way it works.  You apply to a school, get the financial aid information and fill out the paperwork.  Then you apply for every bit of "help"  you can. And you accept every bit of help offered.

I was a technical orphan (in PA you are considered an orphan if your Father died), so believe it , that helped get me secondary money.  I qualified for a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Grant, it was only $200 but it was something.

 A Grant is money they give you and if  you meet the requirements you don't pay it back.  The requirements were to go to school in a Pennsylvania school, maintain a passing GPA and graduate in 4 years - consecutive years with no "breaks". That's 4 years of regular semesters, no summer school included.

I also got a full tuition scholarship from my chosen school and a private "grant in aid" from the Benjamin and Fedora Wolf Memorial Trust. That grant was $450 a year.  Tuition was back in the late '60's only $950 a year - at a private school.

In my freshman year I was a commuter student. My mother was still alive and I lived at home.  I used the Wolf money for public  transportation to and from school, and because there were no restrictions on that grant, I used it also for fees and lunches.  The $200 PHEA grant I used to buy books.

My mother died  days before the beginning of my second year.  The nuns at the college found me space in the dorm so I could continue school, and they allowed me to pay for the room and board in "installments" from the social security survivor's benefit check I received.  I used the Wolf "grant" to pay the bulk of the room and board that year, and paid the rest on my own.

There wasn't much left for spending money.  I babysat at a nearby apartment complex some weekends for some cash.  I didn't attend movies very often, I didn't drive a car, I ate the dorm food and only allowed myself one treat meal a month (usually at a Chinese restaurant.) I worked summer jobs when I was at "home" living with my grandparents, so I had money for clothes and books.

My job was to get passing grades to earn my degree, and I did.  Only one semester during my 4 years at Holy Family College, did I take less than 18 credits per semester.  It was a heavy load but I managed. I was never on Dean's List, and received no awards for academic achievement, I was an average student but managed to maintain the C+ GPA required to keep my financial aid.

The point is it wasn't "given" to me.  I worked for it.  I did not dictate how I wanted to go to school, I did what  I needed to do and what was required of me and played by the rules.  I worked for my degree.

The naysayers are saying that a "free" education is impossible.  It's not.  The tuition will be paid for, but books, room and board are the responsibility of the student.  If you don't live at an "away" school, but reside in your home town you avoid dorm costs.  If you get a part time job you can pay for books and fees.

You EARN your education, it's not handed to you on a silver plate.  Maybe that's why the naysayers say it wont'[ work, they aren't used to earning anything.

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