After dropping out of high school at 16, Ami returned with the support of her grandmother and completed her diploma. She tried her hand at community
college and without defined focus flunked out and lost her financial aid...
Finding What She's Fighting For
Ami went to work in retail for three years. After being laid off in the middle of the recession in 2009, she went back repairing her GPA from a 1.0 to 2.0 one class at a time out of pocket. After requalifying for financial aid, she used the opportunity to start taking more classes, acing everything she gained momentum when she joined Hillsborough Community College's Honors Institute with a 3.2 GPA.
The upward trend would continue professionally, as she found part time work with a local performing arts center and qualifying for Phi Theta Kappa and National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She prevailed in being nominated as her community college's candidate for the Jack
Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship program, but unfortunately was not nationally selected.
Then the unimaginable happened. In pursuing her dream to live in New York City, she applied to Columbia University's School of General Studies and was accepted!
Realizing the cost of such a program she deferred for the maximum year the school would allow and worked full time to save for the move to NY. She saved enough on her own for the move and made the journey to her new home in September. Along the way Ami has kept a blog of her story: http://cctoivyleague.blogspot.com
What's Happening Now?
Ami, utilizing her proven track record of dedicated work experience secured a part-time assistant management job on campus within two days of arriving, allowing her to take care of personal expenses from day to day.
Financial aid was settled: (tuition + housing) - (fed. grants/loans + institutional merit scholarships+ $1000 left of her own savings) = $7200
She applied with Sallie Mae for private loan to cover balance, Turned down.
Ami then attempted to apply for a loan through applicable credit unions and her bank while most simply denied her, one of them explained that while her credit score is decent (600s), she's considered high risk because of an eviction and repossession from 4 years ago when I was laid off.
She then tried adding anyone who would allow her to be a cosigner: retired mom - denied, tradeworker dad - denied, brother/wife in the process of buying first house - denied, widowed/retired grandmother - denied.
Ami wrote a formal appeal to financial aid, and was awarded an extra $500/semester. We're down to $6700!
Under Columbia's policy, non-payment of tuition also doesn't deregister students. A late fee is charged to the student account, which can be waived by Financial Aid.
The school allows registration as long as your account balance is under $1000, so that puts us at just $5700!
However, without registering for further
classes next semester, she will have housing revoked and it will force her to leave.
After overcoming so many odds through sheer work and determination, only being able to stay for one semester would be heartbreaking and dream shattering.
What We Need & What You Get
Break it down for folks in more detail:
- $5700 to cover the the balance of the Fall Semesters tuition, that no one will finance.
- If the goal is not reached it will be put into a tuition fund which Ami, family, and friends will add to, should she have to take a leave of absence after December, so that she can return to Columbia to finish.
Other Ways You Can Help
- Spread the word out and make some noise about Ami's fight to stay and pursue her education.