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The struggle is real, for lj idol

Longer ago than I care to remember, I dropped out of college. After three years, I got my life together (well... as together as it gets), applied for financial aid and registered for classes at one of the major universities in Western Pennsylvania.

About a week after classes started, I got a letter saying that the university had pulled my financial aid and was going to charge me out of state tuition because I was clearly not a resident of the state.

I was confused. No, I wasn't born in Pennsylvania, but my family moved there when I was little. So, I decided to make an appointment to see my financial aid counselor.

About a week later, I walked into the financial aid office. I was sent to my financial aid advisor's "office" (it was a glorified closet), and my advisor (let's call him "Jim"), walked in:

Me: I do not understand why my financial aid was revoked.
Jim: Well, your were born in Illinois...
Me: Yes, but I've lived in Pennsylvania since I was three.
Jim: And there were other irregularities...
Me: I graduated high school in this state.
Jim: Yes..., but...
Me: My entire work history is in this state.
Jim: And that's where the irregularities are.
Me: ... what?
Jim: You were unemployed for about six months not so long ago.
Me: Yes... but I'm not now.
Jim: Well, we think it;s odd that you didn't go to Illinois when you lost your job...
Me: If everyone who was unemployed left the state, you would have a zero unemployment rate.
Jim: But YOU were unemployed and you were born elsewhere.
Me: (starting to lose my temper) So?
Jim: Well, we think you returned to Illinois.
Me: (sarcastically) You're right. All native born Illinoians, when unemployed, return to Illinois, like salmon, swimming upstream to spawn.
Jim: ... It's irregular.
Me: How? If I lived THERE, wouldn't I go to school THERE? Why would I come back here?
Jim: to take advantage of in state tuition...
Me: You know what? You're right. You caught me. I moved to Chicago, but fly in here three days a week to take classes.
Jim: That's not...
Me: On days when the plane is running late, I have it buzz the campus and I parachute out. Perhaps you've seen me?
Jim: That's absurd!
Me: And that's my point. This whole thing is ridiculous. You need to fix it. NOW.
Jim: Your attitude isn't helping.
Me: Neither is your incompetence.* Is your supervisor available?

*Yes, I know I was not helping my cause at this point, but, damn I was angry.

I talked to the supervisor who said that he would fix the issues.

A week later, I received ANOTHER notification from the university about my out-of-state status, so I went back to the office and got nowhere. After that, I went there every day until it was fixed. I was there so often that the secretaries had my id number memorized.

It took a month, but my in-state status was re-instated.

I will say this: after going through all of that, I went to EVERY SINGLE CLASS and did all the work. Well, most of the work.

Sometimes, you DO need the struggle.

For what it is worth, the university pulled this on me every semester for two years, alhough I never had to deal with anyone quite as dense as Jim again.

Comments

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Aw man! Sounds like my 1st semester at Florida State. They "lost" my transcripts.

AW
Oof. That's bad. Did you have to re-send them?
Woah, talk about incompetence.
Yup. It was a combination of incompetence and folks there being told to look out for people trying to break the rules.
Holy cow! Good on you for being so persistent!
Stubbornness is one of my best... and worst qualities.
That's so crazy. I'm really, really glad you persisted though!
The first time, it was infuriating.

After that, it very much was a case of "this again?"
So...unemployment now means you have to go back to the place you were born in? That doesn't even make good nonsense.

I've had my own run-ins with stupid college admin people. You handled it with much more grace and aplomb than I did.
My last semester there, my financial aid got jacked up again (though for different reasons), and I went to the financial aid people and said, "Look, I'm graduating. This is my last semester. Please fix this so we don't have to see one another again."

I got fixed, though I don't know if that's the reason.

Salmon

I don't get the idea so many people have that you yearn to return to where you were born. We only lived there for six months after I was born and I have no recollection of it at all. It gets worse when you move to another country. I left a job in Switzerland and they could not figure out how I could stay in the country after leaving their employ, as if they were the only game in the whole country and I'd race back to the US in despair.

Re: Salmon

Seriously, my family moved when I was three.

Now, oddly enough, I did go back there for graduate school. But that was several years after this.
Holy flippen cow! I don't doubt your anger at that Jim, and I can't even blame you for anything you said, seems to me you were keeping a better lid on your rage than I might have. I'm completely flummoxed that this struggle continued for as long as it did... that's utterly ridiculous! I'm so glad you had the stamina to get through this... but then, we knew you were made of some pretty strong stuff, didn't we? ;)
I was furious. I am kind of amazed I didn;t start screaming.

Yes, I am stubborn. That trait comes in handy sometimes.
Oh wow I would not have been able to put up with that. You are much better man than I.
At the time, part of me was so amazed by the stupidity, that. while I was angry, I didn't get all loud and scream-y.

It was peculiar. And astoundingly stupid.
I'm glad you kept going back - what an amazing level of incompetence. I loved your line about salmon and returning to your state of birth! I bet that whatever definition of citizen Pennsylvania or the school uses, it does not include an exception for those suspected of returning to their birth state during periods of unemployment. Utterly ridiculous!
It was completely nuts. As a postscript to this, one of my friends later on got a job in advising, and heard about this story from them (and from me, though earlier).

She was all, "Hey! I know that guy!"

So, I got a teensy bit of campus fame out of it.
Well, that makes zero sense. I'm glad you were eventually able to get it straightened out.
It's been my experience that bureaucracy in Academia's default setting is "makes no sense."

I want to say that I've gotten to used to it, but I really haven't.
What the hell! That is the craziest thing. I would hate to think what they would have done with my records since my father was in the Air Force and we moved nearly every 4 years of my life. He probably would have told me since I lived in England for four years, I renounced my citizenship!
Probably. Jim was... um... unburdened by the stresses of intelligence.
The incompetence of government employees is so infamous at my place that they made a serial out of it which was quite popular. Reading this brought those memories back. Good you had the patience and persistence and glad that it paid off.
Wow! Unbelievable. Sometime people just can't get their heads out of their rear ends! Sheesh!
Oh, wow. That's ridiculous.

I transferred colleges between my sophomore and junior years. Once I graduated and it was time to start paying off the loans, I consolidated everything. I gave the company everything from both schools and they gave me my monthly payments. All is good, right?

Except not. SIX YEARS later, I decided I wanted to get a paralegal certification. There's a law school near me and I could take most of the classes online. I applied for aid and was declined because I'd defaulted on one of my loans from my first school.

What the? I contacted them and they said they'd sent everything to the company I consolidated with. I contacted the company and they said they received anything. Nobody could find what loan I had defaulted on.

Turns out school one put in their records that they sent one of my loans to the consolidation company, but they really didn't. And the consolidation company thought they received everything. Nobody ever contacted me saying I wasn't paying off this loan. But I had six years of non-payments. I got it all fixed, but it was too late to get into the paralegal program that year.
Jim: Well, we think it;s odd that you didn't go to Illinois when you lost your job...
What the HELL? Really? What's even stranger is that this wasn't just him-- it was a systemic mindset throughout the department! I didn't realize stupid was so contagious.

Your salmon-spawning analogy, though, and then the parachuting onto campus... HAHAHAHAHAHA! So well deserved. :D
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