My Letter to the UW-Milwaukee Dean of StudentsPosted on August 4th, 2012 No comments
My name is Dan Hughes, and I am a hopeful UWM student for the upcoming semester. I say hopeful because the cost I pay for having put off college for almost 10 years after graduating high school causes quite a bit of hardship. While I’ve tried my best and have saved up enough to cover a month or two of expenses when I move out there to attend school, it is becoming increasingly apparent with the job search that I may not be employed enough in time for the school semester to start. I am faced with having to withdrawal because I cannot fully afford the semester.
I was looking at what ways I could possibly be able to support myself AND attend college, and I came across Wisconsin statute 36.27(3)a that states the Board of Regents can remit nonresident tuition to "a number of needy and worthy nonresident students upon the basis of merit, to be shown by suitable tests, examinations or scholastic records and continued high standards of scholastic achievement." As a struggling man in this economy who has supported himself meagerly while obtaining a 4.0 in college and participating in extra activities, I’d like to claim that I might qualify as one of these students. The federal government recognizes my need and has awarded me a pell grant of around $5000, and my loans cover about $10000. I still need a couple more thousand to pay the tuition on top of paying the multitudes of bills one needs to cover to live.
I have attempted to pursue this possibility since the beginning of May. Since then I have been in contact with the Bursar’s office, who directed me to Accounting, who directed me to Financial Aid, who directed me back to Accounting. I contacted the Board of Regents themselves, whose secretary, Jane Radue, said that this is something the individual colleges do, and directed me to the residency specialist and the bursar’s office. The residency specialist said that she only determines residency, and that I should try Financial Aid. I contacted the Board again, and was redirected to Financial Aid. I’m currently in the process of trying to get them again, but they haven’t responded to my request on the website.
I hope you can sense the growing frustration. As the time gets closer for school to start, I have to decide whether I can make it or not. With the non-resident tuition, I’m going to have to say no, and give up on college for now. (The in-state colleges where I am from, Pennsylvania, are far more expensive than even Wisconsin’s out of state tuition!) However, if I can somehow find a way to apply and gain the remission, not only would that cut my costs, but that will allow me to receive a portion of my loan back to cover my living expenses, making the job search easier for me. Unfortunately, this back and forth is seriously putting a damper on my figuring out what to do.
Each department–other than the Board, who recognizes my claim, but said the school has to make the decision–has mistakenly said that only Graduate students can get remission. When I point out that the remission exceptions listed in the law are not limited to Graduates (Graduates aren’t mentioned until section G, actually, with needy, worthy, international, and athletes listed first), that is where I get directed to the next department. I feel like no one knows what to do here. What I do know, is that I am at least entitled to have someone with the power to make these decisions review my case, according to the law. I simply can’t seem to find who that is!
It is even listed in the Accounting office’s own procedures at: https://www4.uwm.edu/bfs/procedures/acct/upload/2-5-02.pdf, where it lists: I. Graduates, II. Athletes, III. Extreme Circumstances, and IV. Needy and Worthy as eligible for remission.
I am desperate. I’ve already signed a lease for an apartment on Oakland Avenue, blocks from the campus. I’m in the process of moving. But as the job hunt keeps coming up empty, without a remission and the relief that my loan will give me, I will have to give up on college for now. I did not quit my job and go to school to stop at an Associate’s degree. I don’t come from a rich family–far be it, I came from a military family who lived under the poverty line for many years. I am the first of the kids in my generation to get ANY degree, much less make it to Junior status. I’d beg for help, but I’m not sure who I can beg to get it.
Please, I need help. I need direction. I will be successful, whether I find a good enough full-time job to support myself or by going to college. I cannot commit to the college though if I cannot be sure that I’ll be able to pay it off as well as my expenses at a lower salary.