Hi everyone, my name is Helen, and I am a current freshman at Syracuse University. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where I've been for all my life. I learned at a young age that my family was different from most others. My parents immigrated to America on a family reuinification visa in 1992, with just a few bags on their backs and a little girl (my older sister) in their arms. Entering a world that was both alien and alienating, with barely any education and a lack of the English vocabulary, the only jobs offered to my parents were jobs at or below minimum wage that required high physical extertion. My parents divorced in 2004, and my father was granted custody of both my sister and me. My parents taught me and my sister that everything comes at a price - even education. While my father suffers from a permanent disability that prevents him from working, only to survive on government welfare, and my mother was recently fired from her job and lost her husband to cancer, there was never a time or budget for them to create a savings fund for me and my sister's imminent college tuitions.
My current bill with Syracuse stands at $5,781. After all aid (including an exhausted student federal loan limit) is accounted for I will owe $3,199 dollars. To an average student, this amount might seem minuscule, easily paid for by their parents. Indeed, perhaps this explains the response I have heard from financial aid, from the bursar’s office, and from the registrar’s office: If you do not pay your bill, your classes will be cancelled. If you cannot afford your bill, your parent must apply for a Federal Plus loan.