By: Angel Jimenez
If you’re like me you have probably spent a depressing amount of time waiting for your financial aid disbursement. You probably have found yourself in between pay days during the first week of classes without money to pay for the textbook you’re going to need for the first quiz. Not to mention your monthly bills are past due, and like me you are holding off buying a parking pass because you need to budget for anything unexpected.
There is no doubt that having to wait for financial aid can be stressful and can also be very worrisome. It often feels that there is no support or compassion from anyone on campus that might be in a position to help. In my own experience, I have walked out of a financial aid office feeling more stressed out than when I walked in because none of my questions were answered.
As an adult student, I have had the opportunity to hear the stories of financial aid anguishes from younger classmates. Having gained their trust they confided to me the avenues in which they eliminated the burden of their financial stress in pursuit of a world class education.
One experience was from a student who ventured into selling her reproductive organs not once, but three times. While working towards earning a degree she held a part time job at night and went to school during the day. She relied on public transportation to get to school and work but started to feel discouraged during the winter months waiting in the cold and getting home late and too tired to study. Having heard stories about students who donated their eggs, she did some research and received almost $8000 in compensation for her first donation. This allowed for her to pay for academic expenses for two semesters and increase the amount of money she was saving to buy a car. The second donation afforded her the same amount of money but it was the final donation that brought her close to $15,000. She had discovered that similar to surrogacy, parents who were unable to have children seek specific types and traits of women for egg donation. Having received almost thirty thousand dollars in egg donations and working she earned her bachelor’s degree and reduced the time she had to wait in line at the financial aid office.
A coworker of mine who holds two jobs told me about some of the issues she’s been experiencing working and going to school while raising two teen aged boys all without a car. Although her full time job affords a decent income to pay bills and rent, she has frustrations with receiving financial aid assistance. Her boys are active in sports so she finds the challenge of time to transport them to events in between work and school. Hoping that her financial aid disbursement wouldn’t be problematic, she was counting on the money to help buy a car this semester. Crowd funding became a window of hope when her boss established a Go Fund Me profile and donated $1500 to start. Every now and then I see her repost the link to her funding page and can see an increase in donations. Although she is excited about the possibility of buying a car in the near future, she is still frustrated with the lack of assistance from financial aid. Had it not been for the expedient actions of her boss to set up the funding page, she would have made the choice to take the semester off. Like many other students she’s relying on the generosity of others through crowd funding to support her academic goals while waiting for assistance from financial aid.
Sugar Dating is a new method of funding for students but not without some controversy as it blurs the lines of sex work and relationships. Mutually beneficial relationships have existed for years but are more commonly recognized as “Sugar Daddy” arrangements. SeekingArrangement.com is a website that offers students financial assistance from wealthy benefactors willing to provide it in exchange for companionship. One of the benefits that the site offers for “Sugar Babies” is a free membership that allows members to view the net worth and Lifestyle Budget benefactors can provide. It is estimated that the average sugar baby receives up to $3000 per month in financial assistance otherwise known as “gifts” from a benefactor. Upon acceptance into a university students soon discover their student loans lack covering the basic costs of living such as food and rent. The stress of working to pay for utilities causes grades to suffer, an imbalance in time management and the loss of focusing on improving oneself. Sugar dating affords students relief from the burdens of slaving away because they are being paid generously for their time. However there is the stigma that surrounds sugar dating since in an arrangement in order to get paid, sex will likely be involved. Sugar dating offers one unique aspect that student loans don’t offer, which is the ability to feel more in control over what happens while receiving assistance. Students who are engaging in mutually beneficial relationships are graduating debt free and entering the workforce in their area of study before or right after graduation.
Outwardly students feel more discouraged than encouraged for needing the assistance of financial aid to achieve their goals. The financial aid system seems to favor those who can afford to go to school full time rather than helping those who need to work while pursuing an education. After all there isn’t a class that prepares students to sell their reproductive organs or offers the skills to get paid for companionship. Perhaps if students didn’t have to wait so long in line at the financial aid office, they wouldn’t have to make decisions that push them into unknown territories for assistance.