Op-Ed, Opinion

The struggles of a low-income student at a private institution

The struggle is real for most college students. Managing employment as a student working on or off campus while maintaining good grades can be more than overwhelming. College may be especially challenging in the case of a low-income student, especially a transfer or commuter full-time student with two jobs such as myself. I’m sure many can relate.

I believe college would bring upon less heartache if students had access to more financial stability. As an international student, I was forced to find a place to reside that was both close to the university’s campus and still affordable. As all commuters know, however, the closer one wishes to live to the campus, the more expensive an the rent, and on campus is housing is no better, with a dreadful price of about $6,000 per semester. As of now, I stay in an Airbnb, where my monthly costs are a bit lower, in lieu of residing at an apartment complex or on campus. Every penny counts.

Just stressing about a living situation while I attend school has given me enough grey hairs. I also have a constant concern of my enrollment at the school; I’m only able to study at this university because I’m enrolled on grants, loans and scholarships, some of which I may not receive next school year if I’m not careful with my grades. So failing a class, unlike many students who can simply retake the class, can cost me my entire education at this facility. It’s a very thin line I balance every time I turn in an assignment.

My mental state in the hands of such stress is a fragile one. Understanding my financial situation and my position at this school coerces me to think rationally, react reasonably, be prepared and ahead of my classes. Most of all, I have to mature at a quick rate. Living in a single-parent household from a young age with a single income and four children has taught me to be diligent and responsible in almost everything I do. This is why I believe UM school would be helping low-income students during their stay at the university if they offered cheaper housing options, cheaper meal plans and more accessible scholarships for low-income students.

Of course, I’m more than grateful to the University of Miami for granting me the funds to attend school in the first place. However, it’s still a challenge. It’s harder every day to go to a school I can’t even afford to live near. Of course, college affects all students differently, in bad ways and in good ways, but low-income students often struggle the most. I hope UM and all private institutions with a costly tuition make attendance and matriculation a little bit easier.

Rachelle Barrett is a junior majoring in political science and broadcast journalism.

October 8, 2019

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Rachelle Barrett


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