by: Timothy Lalowski
And there I sat, in the packed and noisy waiting room at the Department of Human Services office. The room was filled with sadness, lost hope and anger. My appointment, originally scheduled for 11:30 A.M., continued to push into the afternoon. As I waited for four hours to hear my name called, I watched the people filter in and out, listened to the murmur around me — one accented with the occasional cry of a child or a pregnant mother. When my name was called at 2:30, three hours after my appointment was supposed to take place, I was finally taken back into a cubicle for my interview.
This is the price a college education has come to for me and an ever-growing number of college students. My choice is to wait for hours of my day, while I should be in classes, for my SNAP benefits or to come home each day to an empty fridge for the next month. This poses a terrible dilemma for someone applying themselves contribute to society.
Last week, Representative Paul Ryan and GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain discussed trimming the federal budget for education, by cutting Pell Grants or axing financial aid completely. In response, I ask: How can you take away the necessary aid from the class of people who truly understand a life of hard work? Take away the education necessary for the progression of this country and the world? These grant are something that have become necessary for continuing education. With rising prices of tuition, room and board, rising unemployment, falling incomes and rising interest rates, grants are the only practical solution for majority of the middle and lower classes of students. The PELL Grant and other sourced of federal aid support us, the middle class of the future, the hope of our struggling country.
Mr. Ryan and Mr. Cain, I challenge you both to truly validate your stance when the average college tuition has exceeded $7,000/yr without room, board and other fees, as opposed to the average in 1988 (when Paul Ryan was able to afford college by working three jobs) when tuition was just $3,000/yr. Since that time, as tuition more than doubled, post-graduation job placement rates have dropped drastically, along with the rest of our economy. With the market facing students graduating, loans are quickly becoming unfeasible for many students whose parents don’t have the means to foot the bill. As the interest rates rise and graduates struggle to land any job possible, the battle of paying off loans is becoming increasingly more impossible.
I worked full time all summer, I have two majors in Engineering and a minor in Architecture. When I get my Engineering license, I want to start my own company and use the profits to reconstruct the poverty line in developing countries. I’m working my hardest in order to contribute to society, yet this proposal aims to make this impossible. This proposal will impede progress. However, I am fortunate and have been able to do my part without too much struggle, but for that reason, I am fearful. I am fearful for those less fortunate, who struggle each day to pay for school on top of food and shelter. I am fearful for the future. I am fearful for our country. I am fearful for the world.
Timothy Elliot Lalowski is a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he studies Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering with a minor in Architecture. Timothy is a founder of ItGetsMoreGay.tumblr.com, a G focused LGBTQ help blog. Timothy has also recently founded New Velocity, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Performance Dance Troupe and serves as president and major choreographer. Interested in the Social Progressive Movement, Timothy continues to work towards his goal of founding the Progressive Design and Engineering Movements.