What Did You Have For Breakfast? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

What Did You Have For Breakfast?

Youth Media Project

Sifting through all the pages of the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE at Education Services Foundation (ESF) with Ms. Lacy was the final action that made me realize the college process really, really, really, really, REALLY, RE-LAAAAYYYY sucks. When I was done with all my applications I thought it was practically over, but no, no, no. It was time to spill out my life story with these forms.

I felt like my and my family's personal business was just being thrown at people in financial offices I didn't even know. The CSS profile especially gets under your skin with very specific questions to assess just how much you have in debt or what money you have saved away. The reason for this, I believe, is that the big, selective and expensive colleges cannot get all the financial information they require with just the FAFSA. If you're a school that commonly needs to give out tens of thousands of dollars just to cover half of tuition you want all the details you can to make sure people don't slide under the radar and get more, or less than what they need. The amount of money your parents make a year doesn't tell the whole story by a long shot.

More well-off families probably don't twinge when the CSS/PROFILE inquires the value of their homes, but I do. More well-off families twinge when the PROFILE asks them how much money is spent on private education at an elementary, middle, and secondary level school every year for the applicant's younger siblings. I nearly laughed out loud when I considered how completely irrelevant that is to me, but how incredibly important it is to the typical St.Andrews/Prep/Academy family right here in Jackson. That any family could afford to send even ONE child to private school here boggles me, but that's besides the point.

When I found out that 60% of Northwestern University (my top choice school) students pay IN FULL the $50,000 + annual tuition, I choked on my drink and I blurted out, "I don't even KNOW anyone with $50,000!"

It's an embarrassing and tedious process filling out financial aid forms. It makes me want to send an e-mail to these schools saying, "My mother is my only source of income, she works in retail, and I live in Mississippi. Can't you just believe I need the money?!" I've never been the girl who wants a "handout" or to just be given every single little amount of money I need for tuition, fees and board, and even travel. I like to struggle, in a way, because it's always been how I've gotten through things, but I am glad that big name schools are starting to see how important it is to attract students from under-represented areas.

I will take care of my alma mater when I leave, because it took care of me. I want to be the alumna who can help other students in the same position as I am make it where they want to be the most.

Previous Comments


Oh The Places You'll Go! Keep truckin. Northwestern would be lucky to have you!

Lacey McLaughlin

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