On Returning to UNO
For instance, there are these long, oblong bushes that lean precariously at the side of the business building; in the lot in front of the library, there's a picnic table performing the same acrobatic stunt. And worst, is inside the library, where a coffee house has settled in the lounge--a coffee house. I almost couldn't believe it.
Sometimes, it's strange how much things on campus have changed, but sometimes, it's almost shocking how things have stayed the same. While walking to the University Center earlier today, I discovered that in the newspaper machines cluttered together in front of the entrance, there was a copy of the New York Times.
Its date? August 24, 2005.
At times, it's actually nice to see some changes; the Lakeview area is looking immensely better. The big, blocky houses that lined Leon C. Simon Blvd. are being gutted, and many are repainted. With the exception of a few lots, the area is looking even better than it was before the storm.
Unfortunately, some of the changes at UNO aren't particularly impressive; as I've mentioned in an earlier entry, some of the best professors at the university have been laid off.
And then, there's financial aid. My cousin--a first-time college student--would have qualified for TOPS on any other year, but this year, it wasn't available to her. She managed to pay off some of her tuition with grant money, but for the most part, she's been forced to cash in college bonds that her middle-class parents bought for her when she was younger. For me, those college bonds have long disappeared, and my grant money has trickled to a meager $1,300/semester. Because of the new 'fuel recovery charge' (thank you, Entergy), university tuition has risen about 5%.
Leaving me with one month to figure out how I'm going to scramble up $700 before the end of October after spending over $300 on used school books--many that still haven't come in.
If I get the "Return 2 Learn" grant that was widely-advertised in the summer, I should have just enough money to break even; I'll have that $700 I need for my tuition, and I'll be reimbursed for the $300 I spent on books. But when I called Financial Aid this morning, they informed me that they weren't sure when these dispersements would take place--or even I'd even get the money before the Bursar's Office starts hitting me up for cash.
But last year--even without the formation of the "Return 2 Learn Program"--my grant money was enough to pay my tuition, pay for my books, and give me a little money to survive off during the school year. And my financial situation hasn't changed much since then.
So what happened?
I love UNO. I love the atmosphere, the students, and sometimes, even the professors. One semester at LSU--with the rowdy, obnoxious football loving, binge-drinking students--was enough to remind me how much that I love and appreciate about my home institution. But with an inadequate financial aid department at UNO and inadequate financial aid in the city, I have little reason to continue my studies at a university in the state when I graduate next fall.
Especially with my father promising to pay off the entirety of my tuition while I'm in graduate school--as long as I don't attend an institution in the area.
But even despite that promise, I wanted to stay in the city--and as long as my tuition was supplemented by the government, I had no reason not to; I, like many others, feel as though I have an obligation to the city that raised me into the woman that I am today.
But before, I had to choose between staying at UNO with my tuition fully paid, or continue my graduate studies at NYU fully-paid; now, I have to choose between staying in the city and paying $2,000+ a year for books and tuition, or continue my graduate studies in New York completely covered.
I don't have to make a decision today; I've still got a year to figure out what I want to do. But I'm not entirely confident that the situation is going to change much within the next twelve months.