I left Temple University in December of 1992, having struggled through two years of studies. The struggles were based on my emotional instability, as one who was surviving having lost my virginity to a rapist that I thought I liked. I had a break down that fall semester and dropped out. I pulled myself together, or time healed my wounds a bit, or life continued, whatever it was, and I applied and was accepted to New York University. I received about half the tuition in federal grants and small univeristy scholarships, and my family helped me to fund the remaining budget.
I loved my studies at NYU. I was trully focused, having finished my first semester with all A's, one B+. The latter grade was the result of my having missed my final as scheduled. I had been babysitting and the child's parents did not get there in time for me to make my class. The grade on the final was therefore dropped a whole letter grade. I otherwise had earned an A in that class a well.
The second semester was one of independent studies. I was in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, focusing on Arts and Education. I had five independent studies with artists in Philadelphia, where I still lived and from where I'd been commuting. On one of my many trips to NYU to meet with one of my faculty advisors, I stopped to talk to the Dean. I learned then that I was losing my funding. Retroactively.
Apparently, I was in default on a Perkins Loan. The loan amount was $400. It was from my time at Temple University.
Temple started sending out bills to collect on this one of two Perkins Loans (the other I'd paid off). However, the bills were being sent to the wrong address. The loan went into default since I never paid it since I never got the bills. Of course, I never got notice of the default status either. This status was established in 1993. However, Temple administrative staff did not report this default status until the Spring of 1996, toward the end of my second semester. Thus at that point, all of the federal grants I'd been awarded were taken back because - as we all know - you cannot be in default on a loan and receive federal funds.
I paid the loan off immediately - it was now almost $800 with fees. That changed nothing. I was not eligible for aid, and I was now in debt to New York University for almost $10,000.00. I therefore never completed my undergraduate studies and my credits are in limbo land, non-existant until I get a transcript which I cannot get until the balance is paid off. Of course, since I am a starving artist and a single mom, I cannot afford to pay NYU any part of that $10,000.
Now, here's the scary part: I have no idea what happened at the end of my second semester. I had to change my focus from finishing my requirements and meeting with faculty to meeting with administrators trying to figure out how we could get the whole funding thing straightened out. I'm not sure what got turned in and what did not. I'm not sure if I passed all, or even any of my independent studies. I may have all passes, but I may have all fails. I've never seen my grades from that semester, and I have no transcripts from NYU. My records were frozen immediately.
So, I now have a new challenge, which is to find ways to fund my education. My plan:
To apply for any and every scholarship and grant that is remotely applicable to who I am as a student, and what I'm studying, while petitioning NYU to forgive my dept and release my records which would (hopefully) give me the 30 additional credits I need to be eligible for Federal Aid. Should I discover that I have any failures on my transcript, I will petition the Gallatin School to change those grades, even though they are ten years old. Considering the strength of my first semester, I'm sure they can't disagree that it is unlikely that I would have failed to complete my work during the second semester. Right?
By the way, the Financial Aid Departments at both Lesley and Bennington were sending me correspondence saying that I was in default on a loan and needed to get that squared away. Another default? I had not idea what they were talking about. I reviewed my records for my Stafford Loans and they were not in default. I went to get a letter stating as much but then, when I applied for transcripts, Temple did not send them out because their records also showed that I was in default on a loan. My inquiries determined that the loan that I was listed as being in default on was the $400 Perkins Loan I had paid in 1996. It was November, 2008.
Thank you Temple University.