• Student Stories
  • May6th

    I’m a 62 year old veteran who has worked his whole life building our country. I have also been working on my education
since 1967, when I graduated from Forest View High School. For these past 43 years, I’ve been slowly moving toward my degree. At my age, a degree is a requirement for employment—a software engineer by trade, my experience is secondary to my education level. So, I am racked and stacked among the ranks of the un- and under-educated, even though I have two associates.

    I’m currently a senior at Elmhurst College in Illinois. I have taken out loans and received grants from federal, state and college sources to allow me to work toward my bachelor’s, but that aid has now become less available. Please recognize that I have always worked and provided support not only for my family, but also my church and community. I’m not asking for a handout, but a helping ‘hand-up.’ Allow me to continue to serve my community and nation—both of which need me to be an active participant in our growth and stability!

  • May6th

    I am what millions of Americans are becoming today in light of our economy: I am a non-traditional student. I attend Buena Vista University through the accelerated professional program, and am working toward my bachelor’s in both psychology and human services, with minors in sociology, education and client delivered services.

    I am a married mom of four children, and I work more than 45 hours a week as a child care provider, specializing in children with behavioral disorders. I am also a volunteer CASA for the juvenile court system, a 4H leader and a certified reading circle instructor.

    Federal loans, grants and school scholarships have made my dream a possibility, as well as allowed me to plan a better future for my children. In order to cover the cost of my tuition and books, I have had both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, along with grants. It is imperative to keep our student loan amounts at the current dividends and not subtract them to balance the state budget.

    It is statistically proven that children who have parents who have graduated from college have a better chance of attending and graduating themselves. This alone is an example of what cutting loan budgets can do– the effects will be felt for generations, which, in turn, hurts us all. I plead with our representatives to listen to the public and realize that cutting education not only hurts our students now, but our future ones as well.

  • May3rd

    I graduated from Buena Vista University in 1985. When I graduated from high school in 1979, my parents were not eligible for any financial aid even though my father had been laid off from his job. I worked for two years in a packing plant to be able to save to go to college. My income from that packing plant was enough to make me ineligible for financial aid, so I had to rely on my savings. After two years of being a full-time student, I had a 3.83 GPA, but the balance in my savings account was so low that I didn’t know how I was going to finish my next two years, in spite of working part-time. My advisor directed me to apply for the Pell Grant, a state grant, Federal Work-Study Program and a guaranteed student loan for my next year of school; needless to say, I was eligible to receive the maximum grant amount, state grants, Federal Work-Study, student loans and an academic scholarship. These allowed me to continue to go to college.

    I know that without the Pell Grant, I would not have been able to finish college; I simply would not have had enough money. Since my graduation, I have gone on to obtain an MBA. I have worked with many entities that serve the public and have started scholarship funds for future students. I stress to everyone the importance of a college degree. We cannot afford to leave good students, who are our future, behind. I know I would have been left behind without the Pell Grant and the other financial aid that was made available to me.

  • May3rd

    I am a single mother of two small children, and I work and go to school full time. Raising both my children on my own, the only way I am able to even attend college is because of federal student aid. I have gone to Iowa Central Community College and I now attend Buena Vista University. Due to my Federal Pell Grant and federal student loans, I am able to attend college and make a better life for my children and me. I am not a statistic, a single mom living below the poverty level, doing nothing with her life. I am also teaching my children responsibility and showing them that their mother is doing something that will give them a stable life. I want them to learn that no matter what situation comes at them, they can do anything.

  • May3rd

    I am currently in my twenties, raising my two teenage sisters. If my aid is cut this year, I will not be able to attend Saint Joseph’s University next year, and work towards completing my degree. Right now, I am working very hard to reach my goals; utilizing the Federal Pell Grant has allowed me to set an example for my siblings of what a college career entails. I have a mother who has been diagnosed with H.I.V. and a father who died of AIDS; I want to be an advocate not only for myself but for my siblings and the community. I want to use my degree to star non-profit organizations that create awareness of different diseases and the consequences of people’s choices. I know my ancestors would be proud to see that I have had the opportunity to attend college with fewer barriers than they had.

    Eliminating the Federal Pell Grant would only cause students to shoulder additional debt, and it is simply not American to allow young people to graduate from school owing what is basically the cost of a mortgage, but with no promising job. During this very difficult economic time, cutting students’ Pell grants, eliminating additional grants from SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant), and cutting services from the Federal TRIO Programs and GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) will make it impossible for millions of students to complete college. I was so sad to read about the proposal to cut TRIO, because not only was I was part of the TRIO Upward Bound Program, I was the student of the year.

    When I first entered TRIO Upward Bound, it was clear that I needed direction. My grades were mediocre and I was doing the bare medium. But the director noticed potential in me that I did not know I possessed—I was so completely a product of my environment that I did not know how much I was worth. The director molded me and never gave up on me, and I finally realized that there are people who genuinely care. I take that experience with me everywhere I go. My experience in Upward Bound is embedded in me, and it’s the foundation that has helped me achieve a 3.8 GPA and remain competitive with my peers for academic success. Cutting programs is not the answer to balancing the budget.

  • May2nd

    I am from a rough part of Des Moines, Iowa, and went to a rough school where most students were not going to go to college—a lot of them did not even graduate in four years. Now I attend Buena Vista University, a private university in Storm Lake Iowa. According to my teachers in middle school, I was never supposed to be here; they predicted I would drop out the minute I was able to. I was never supposed to make it through my freshman year of high school, but I graduated last spring in the top 25 percent of my class, with a 3.01 cumulative high school GPA, and a 3.0 cumulative college GPA.

    I come from a single-parent family, where my mother raised my younger sister and me. We could not afford for me to attend school without the help of the financial aid I currently receive: scholarships from Buena Vista, federal and state loans, the Parents PLUS loan and Federal Work-Study. BVU is just where I need to be and I know for a fact that if I lose my financial aid, I will have to go home and stop going to school; if I am lucky, I’ll be able to earn my associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College.

    But I moved this far from home because I do not belong in Des Moines anymore. With the amount of money my mother earns, and the way I acted in middle school, no one believed I would be in college. But today I am proving wrong the people who thought I could not do this. If I lose any type of financial aid, all of those people would be proven right and I would let my mom down by not graduating and living the best life I can live. This school will get me just where I need to be in my life. I may not know exactly where it will take me but I am positive that it will be a million times better than living in Des Moines, working somewhere with just a high school degree and the small possibility of attending DMACC.