It’s an exciting and scary year for my parents — their youngest child is graduating from high school and will be going to college. As Sydney’s oldest brother, I want to give her my best advice as she considers schools and prepares to leave home. And of course, I can’t help but be partial to Iowa State and share all my tremendous experiences I’ve had here that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
But man, can she afford to be a Cyclone? We grew up below the poverty line and I had to pave my own way through college. I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships and financial aid from state and federal programs. Even so, there was never a semester without worrying about having enough money to pay my housing bill or get the books I needed for school. And as grateful as I am for the love and support from my parents, I could never ask for monetary support without disrupting my family’s financial security. I knew the buck stopped with me, so I had to juggle academics, leadership roles and two jobs in order to make it.
Looking back, I don’t know that I would’ve made it if school had cost a few more hundred dollars. Which is why I was immediately alarmed when the first tuition proposal called for the university to increase rates 7 percent annually for five years. I had a sick feeling in my stomach when the Iowa Senate announced $6.9 million in de-appropriations to the university. The day before their budget proposal was released, I was in Majority Leader Dix’s office where Student Government leaders were assured the leadership was committed to training the workforce of the next generation for our state.
But how can the next generation attend college and develop workforce skills with tuition hiked, university budgets slashed, the Perkins Loan Program eliminated and the expansion of differential tuition in our institution? How can students who come from a low-income background, such as Sydney and myself, find the support they need when they go to school in a state that is ranked dead last in financial aid support?
The time for inaction is over. We have to contact our state representatives and share our Cyclone stories to remind our leaders why higher education is a worthwhile investment. Our silence builds great barriers for the next generation to attend college. Urge representatives to leave a brighter tomorrow for my sister and other aspiring students in and around our state.