Unfiltered Story #32583

Wisconsin, USA | Unfiltered | December 28, 2016

(I am a disabled, first generation, low-income student. I have been working with Student Support Services for two years because of my disability. The last month of my junior year, a friend of mine tells me about an SSS program that helps prepare disadvantaged students (defined as first generation, low income, or ethnic minority) for graduate school. But to be part of the program you are required to do summer research, and the deadline for applying for this summer has passed. I was never contacted by SSS about this program (even though they are supposed to contact anyone who is eligible), and I assume it’s too late to take advantage of it. Next semester, my senior year, I get an e-mail saying that I am eligible for the program and should come to a very important meeting scheduled next week. Confused, I go to the SSS office to ask about this.)

Me: Hi, so… I’m a senior, and I just got an e-mail saying that I’m eligible for [program]. I didn’t find out about that program until last semester, which was too late to apply, so I assumed I wasn’t eligible… am I actually eligible?

Coordinator: Oh, that’s odd… you should have been contacted before this. Maybe your eligibility changed this year?

Me: Well… I’ve always been first-generation, and I’m low income. My income hasn’t changed in the past three years.

Coordinator: Oh, well, those two things should have made you eligible. Hmm… maybe the federal guidelines changed? You were over the income limit but now you aren’t?

Me: …I’m an independent student living off less than $7k a year, I’m pretty sure that’s not it.

Coordinator: Huh… and you’re a senior now?

Me: Yes. I’m graduating a semester early, though, because when I started here, I came in during the spring semester instead of the fall. Could that be the problem?

Coordinator: Oh, you were a transfer?

Me: No, I just started in the spring because of health issues.

Coordinator: Huh. Well, you should have gotten an eligibility notice your freshman year… I think you coming in during the spring instead of the fall just confused us.

Me: Okay, well… am I eligible for the program?

Coordinator: Well, technically you’re eligible, but since you’re a senior… no, you’re not eligible, The only way we could get you in is if we happened to have an opening… but we don’t have any openings right now. But you could still go to the meeting if you were really interested in the program?

Me: Uh… no, thanks, that’s okay. I’ll just ignore that e-mail then.

(I’ve got enough research experience and professors that have supported me in the grad school application process that I’m not really mad about it, but I’m still really confused as to how I fell through the cracks when first semester of my junior year I literally asked the director of SSS, “What’s the GRE? Do I have to take it if I want to go to graduate school?” You’d think that would tip her off that I might be someone who could benefit from that program.)

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