Op-ed: Students detail financial journey to Emerson

Last month, the Beacon profiled a student planning to join the military after graduation to help pay off college debt. This story made us curious about the efforts other students make for financial assistance. So, we reached out on social media and by email to ask students: “The cost of attending Emerson is high and the rate of tuition increase is higher than other institutions, as the Beacon reported in 2016. What are you doing currently or what did you have to do to make Emerson a reality for you? What improvements do you want to see the school make in terms of financial aid?”

 

In high school, I posted a picture of Emerson on my wall to mark its place in my goals. Emerson was my dream, my goal, and my plan. However, becoming a Lion came with quite the cost: approximately $46,016 a year, excluding room and board. My family, of five people, has an annual income of around $28,000. Being from Hawaii, having dual citizenship with Brazil, and not being able to afford school tuition are all disadvantages stacked against me. But, I refuse to let those numbers define who I am.

I am driven by the desire to have my voice heard. I told myself that I would go to Emerson by applying for scholarships day and night. As a result, I racked up $9,600 worth of outside scholarships and donations.

Although I am grateful to accomplish my dream to attend Emerson, not everyone gets this opportunity. Lowering the cost of room and board would help. I took out a loan for the sole purpose of not being able to afford living costs. There should be an increase in merit scholarships, as there are various creative and intelligent individuals that need financial assistance to accomplish their dreams as well. An effort by Emerson to cater to these people would not only be beneficial to these students, but also to the world that awaits their voices.

–– Eloisa de Farias

De Farias is a freshman journalism major.

 

Even before high school, I knew I wanted to attend a college outside North Carolina. Nevertheless, I was aware that, along with the adventure that studying in a new place bears, my dream would come with an intimidating price tag.

Yet Emerson made this dream entirely plausible by not charging out-of-state tuition and by offering me a scholarship that makes payments monumentally easier. By receiving the Trustee Scholarship—which accompanied my admission to the Honors Program—I was able to fulfill my dream. Without this scholarship, I may not have been able to attend Emerson at all.

For this reason, I feel fortunate that in high school I found the motivation to endure the sleepless nights of writing and rewriting essays, and the countless hours of studying that it took to ace AP classes. Now, because of that, I get to pursue an education at a school that I could have only dreamed of before. I just wish that this opportunity was available for more students because scholarships like mine can be a huge helping hand.

–– Abbey Finn

Finn is a freshman journalism major.

 

I transferred to Emerson from Shoreline Community College in Seattle as a junior. I didn’t apply for housing because the cost for a double room intimidated me. Instead, I searched online for any homestay families that would cost similar to what I paid in Seattle. Eventually, I settled down with a family in Medford, where my commute is about 45 minutes. I bring my own lunch, sometimes dinner, with me to school since I don’t have a meal plan and don’t want to spend money eating out.

As an international student, I am not eligible for need-based financial aid from Emerson or the federal government. The few merit-based scholarships that are available are usually granted to freshmen before the college releases the transfer admission results. Many believe that international students are wealthy, but in reality, some of us come to the U.S. to look for a better education and political environment. At least that’s what I’m doing. Overall, I wish that Emerson could open more scholarships and fundings for international students so everyone can receive the same opportunity to seek financial help.

––Frances Hui

Hui is a junior journalism major.

 

Although I am grateful that I could have attended Emerson without any loans or merit-based aid, my scholarship was a determining factor when I was deciding between Emerson and other schools last spring. I received my scholarship because of high school grades, AP test scores, and application essays. But, if Emerson hadn’t offered me that money, I’m not sure I would have chosen to be here and been able to write for this paper today.

Now, I’m pressured to maintain my scholarship by keeping my GPA above the required minimum of 3.0, while also participating in extracurricular activities and juggling a social life. The possibility of losing a significant amount of money keeps the stakes high.

The reality is that the cost of tuition remains extraordinarily high, even with my scholarship. I’m currently researching summer courses that could fulfill more than one liberal arts requirement so that I could graduate in three years. Thankfully, my parents are supportive of my education both financially and morally, but I want to save them as much money as possible.

Overall, I believe the college needs to focus on reducing superfluous expenses to slow down tuition increase. The money that is saved from reductions should, in my opinion, go towards more efforts like the new Normal Lear scholarships that supports students from lower-income households.

––Diti Kohli

Kohli is a freshman journalism major and the Beacon’s assistant opinion editor. 

 

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