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Gee, thanks for reminding me.

Kma's picture

I'm never used to seeing too much extra money in my bank account, especially at the beginning of the semester with tuition payments, books, and supplies needing to be purchased. Because of this, I was very surprised to check my balance one day and see that I had over $5,000 dollars in it. I looked to see where it came from and it said "Bryn Mawr Direct Deposit" It wasn't payday, and even though I do work a lot on campus, there was still no way that it was a paycheck. My next guess was that it was somehow related to financial aid. I went to their office the next business day and learned that some people just don't have too much empathy or sensitivity.

Long story short, since I had been wait-listed for two of my classes, I wasn't billed for them. Because of this, when my federal aid went into my account, I had no balance due, and so it was automatically refunded to me. Since I got into those classes, I have since been billed, and so the money needs to go back into my student account. While the financial aid officer was helping me figure it out, she saw how much my mom made and said, "Well your mom doesn't make that much anyway, so no wonder the refund was so much." I was shocked, and literally couldn't say anything. She then said, "Well let's see how much your non-custodial parent is contributing... oh, I see, nothing." I had to leave her office as fast as I could. I wanted to cry, and I couldn't believe that somebody could be so insensitive. Growing up, my mom raised me by herself, and we lived paycheck to paycheck. My mom still does, even though I'm not at home anymore. To be reminded in that way that I don't have that much money stung, and it made me feel like I was less than a person.

Reading the Sue piece about micro-aggressions really stood out to me, especially when it mentions that micro-aggressions are more than about just race. They can be about gender/sexuality, religion, and socioeconomic status, just to name a few. Perhaps it shocked me so much because knowing Bryn Mawr is known for its generous financial aid, the officers would be more aware of the different types of backgrounds women were coming from. I guess sadly not.


jccohen's picture

micro-aggressions and financial aid


This story really highlights the work of financial aid officers as being not only about numbers but also and importantly about human beings, diversity, education.  I too see this as a micro-aggression, and I'm wondering whether it really comes under the category of awareness, which is to say knowledge on the part of the financial aid person.  If indeed this person spoke as they did out of now-knowing, then this raises the question of how financial officers are trained and supervised at the college.  Let's talk about this a bit more in person.