I still hate you FAFSA

studentdebt_jpg

 

(WARNING: RANT) I should not have filled out that damn form last night (and lost sleep due to making calculations in my head over how to afford college for my second degree). But since it is a requirement from the university I am applying to (and hopefully get a scholarship for books), I did it anyway. Why would I go for a second degree? Because, as I have told my academic adviser bluntly: “No one will take me seriously as a programmer unless I have a degree to back it up”. Case in point: a friend of mine who is an excellent coder/programmer with over 10+ years of experience can not find work in her field because employers kept passing her over for programmers with actual degrees. So she is also going back to school.

For those not familiar with the FAFSA acronym, it is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid available for graduating high school students, graduate college students, current college students, etc. attending or going to attend a U.S. university or college.  For those familiar with it, the FAFSA is a double-edge sword that was made to troll and hold applicants in suspense before the start of the school year.

My first experience with the FAFSA was confusing and bittersweet: it was the first piece of paper that made me felt so happy that I was an unemployed and broke college student. Since my parents couldn’t help me financially (based on their tax returns and constant unemployment), I managed to secure the maximum Pell Grant (financial need-based aid) every year. But it wasn’t enough for all of my college expenses (food, books, student housing). So I had to borrow money to make ends meet. I have considered every year during my undergrad years the option of living at home and saving some money. The turbulent and unstable situation at my parents’ house would made it impossible for me to live with my mother (and would have forced me to drop out).  I have even tried to find employment during my college years, only to find that I was TOO broke to afford transportation to drive to work (public transportation was non-existent).  Every year that passed and I borrowed, I prayed that my Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) would turn to $0. Every year I hoped that by the time I finished college I would find the kind of job that would help me pay those loans back and hoped never to borrow again. 

Except that didn’t happen for 2 years after graduation. Due to economic hard ship, I deferred my loans as long as possible. When I finally did found work, although I paid large amounts every month, NONE of my payments were going towards the principal, rather towards the projected interest of my loans. This BS was happening in spite of consolidating my loans. This would mean that in 20 years I would have ended up paying over $50,000 for a $38,000 loan. Because the lending company championed by my alma mater felt it can extend my loan as long as it wants, regardless of my large payments. So, fed-up with their BS, I paid off the entire amount and basically told Sallie Mae to go fuck themselves. After this whole crap was over, I swore never to touch that FAFSA again for anything as long as I lived.

Except that I did after nearly 10 years of not going to school.

I am no longer a broke college student limited to that damn FAFSA application.  I was lucky enough to get financial aid that did not involve using that damn FAFSA that can help cover most of my expenses.  But even though that application has changed since I last filled it out, it STILL trolls students and prospective students with the following:

a) It’s good to be flat broke. If you are unable to qualify for merit based aid, unable to serve in the military or not have rich parents (or a trust fund), then the FAFSA is your only recourse.

b) Short change people who have paid taxes for years from using some of the federal aid to go to school in order to advance into becoming a more skilled work force. A skilled work force means higher paying jobs and more taxes paid to the government. Do you have a job? Sorry, no aid other than a loan. Do you have savings? Sorry, but you should spend all of them, regardless of your other needs (medical bills, transportation, etc.)

c) Borrow irresponsibly. Apparently you can’t even accept the information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to help calculate how much you can earn in your field or how the job market will be after you graduate. From personal experience, it is best to expect 20% less than average, assuming you don’t feel like hustling for a raise in pay or you are unable to.  Unless you’ve graduated from an Ivy League school.

Which leads to:

d) Unless you get all of your expenses paid with scholarships and grants, borrowing means you will be broke after graduation. No matter how hard you try. Even if you are lucky to find work before graduating, the first few months are going to be slim: purchasing your own health and car insurance, rent, groceries and other work related expenses do add up. If you chose the wrong kind of loan (a private one) you are royally screwed: the loan companies don’t have to cut your slack on your payments and charge you more interest than the federal ones.  And then there is the job market you are forced to look in. It is much like borrowing money to escape from poverty only to continue or fall into greater poverty after school is over. The FAFSA needs some SERIOUS reform. Universities and colleges need to stop relying on these damn applications to see if a student needs financial help. EVERYONE who has worked and paid their taxes should be able to receive unchained help from the government and not rely on loans.

 

 

 

 

 

Why even try??!!!

There are few times where I have a pet peeve about doing the right thing and following the rules. This time, it involves the job hunt.

I don’t understand these higher ups who claim to be great business men and women, yet are too chicken to take a risk on someone to hire. Or that these same men and women want someone who meets ALL of the requirements for the job without offering a decent wage with benefits.

I can understand why people are so reluctant to leave their jobs even though they hate working at their jobs. The mind-fuck games HR and management play to try to hire the perfect candidate would made the calmest person go postal. Especially in the interview room.

Don't ask me why should you hire me!!!

Don’t ask me why you should you hire me!!!

 

It gets even more frustrating when your resume fits the job description to a T and yet the hiring manager tries to play psychologist with you even though he/she couldn’t even pass a Blot Ink test:

“So what do you expect from the company once you are hired?”

“What is your biggest weakness?”

“My concern is that with your vast experience, this position might not be challenging enough for you”

“I don’t see how with your excellent qualifications you can be having trouble finding something more adequate”

“We need someone with more enthusiasm and passion for this position”

As a candidate, you can’t be too assertive or super-confident else you are seen as an arrogant woman. I’ve noticed men in my same position being assertive and acting confident then get rewarded with a good paying job.

Cojones-free women wanted :(

Cojones-free women wanted. No exceptions 😦

I can see why so many people play the damn lottery or turn to crime. Or do both. Maybe this land is just as exploitative of its workforce, except they are more polite about it.

why even try??!!

why even try??!!

 

 

Misogyny breeds misandry

it goes both ways

 

I respect the right of the individuals who express their views through blogs and news “articles”. There is that risk where those views will get slammed and ridiculed. Especially when those views touch a nerve.

This particular piece not only touched MY nerve, but brought out the homicidal instincts all humans possess but keep dormant (most of the time).

According to Patrick Howley’s piece Liberals want to stop to stop men from checking out women he sites the conclusions of a study published by “The Nature of the Objectifying Gaze Toward Women” by Sarah J. Gervais, Arianne M. Holland, and Michael D. Dodd then goes on a rant about liberals wanting to become “hall monitors”:

“..Pretty soon, looking at a woman’s chest will legally be a “hate” crime instead of a love crime.”

Whoever made this guy a reporter must have been either a) could not afford to hire a real reporter or b) hires amateurs to write “articles” for the sole purpose of getting more visits on the webpage

The rant that blew my lid off was this paragraph that echoes his frustration and exhibits his views of the future that may or may not happen:

“…I’m not saying looking at tits is any kind of noble pursuit. But it’s one more freedom. It’s one more thing that has been allowed in this country since the time of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. One more thing that we’re not going to be allowed to do in the progressive future.

And you know what else? A lot of women like it.”

With all due respect (or lack of it), a lot of women DO NOT LIKE IT.

I am one of those women. I grew up in a violent, predominantly misogynistic culture where I could not walk down the street without being harassed by male drivers. When I was entering middle school, I had to fight off boys who sexually harassed me EVERY SINGLE DAY and tried to sexually assault me. What started as whistles and words would escalate into cornered confrontations and unwanted touching.  The encounters got so bad that I stopped getting into trouble for getting into physical fist fights with these “boys” because the teachers (who were mostly female) knew their notes and requests for parent-teacher conferences would be ignored. The school where I spent my early years  was so broke that it did not expel these “boys” because they needed the tuition money.

I shake while I type this because it angers me to know that living in a First World country and in the 21st century, such sentiments are still nurtured and not challenged. It is because of those unchallenged misogynistic sentiments that help breed misandry towards “reporters” like him.  Yes misandry. That is what such behavior of ogling and expressing such views in a “harmless” non-polite manner can lead to many young girls and women to fend for themselves against men.  The constant “verbal admiration” brews hatred that is uncalled for towards 99% of men. Men who openly express their rude admiration towards a woman need signals beyond just walking away in haste or ignoring them. They need to be glared at, be insulted through hand gestures or worse.  Unwanted attention needs to be demonstrated that it is EXPLICITLY UNWANTED, regardless of the cost of being polite.  The old fashioned way of slapping a man when he is being crass and rude can still send the strong signal of “NO”.

Such a slap could render an assault charge in this “liberal” world Mr. Howley rants about.

That would be fine by me. If I go down, I will do it to avoid another assault on me.

 

 

 

Pass the rum!

After a lot of searching, I’ve decided to re-try something that I have wanted to do right after high school but for some reason could not succeed at the time. Maybe I couldn’t understand or have the focus at the time to learn what it takes to make it.

I couldn’t understand at the time why in God’s name I couldn’t learn how to program yet I managed to learn physics, calculus, and all of the pre-requisites before entering the Computer Science program several years ago. I had a love for video games and I wanted to become a game developer and make my own RPGS. I thought at the time that drive was enough to pull me through to survive it.

But that didn’t happen. I sucked hard at my basic programming classes and had to switch majors. So I chose something that didn’t require more Calculus courses and could get work in a high demand field (because I was super-broke). Like Accounting, for instance.

o98ql

That was a big mistake. If my alma matter had the cojones to show their students the reality of working in finance,  a lot of people would not get stuck into soul-sucking careers for the sake of paying off student loans. And deal with this kind of bullshit every quarter. Or every fucking month like I did because companies prefer hiring hourly cheap noobs over experienced expensive salaried workers.

I am lucky I don’t owe student loans anymore (however, that deal with the devil himself is another story :P). 

So fed up and just irritated at the thought of returning to my previous field, I’ve decided to try again.

Try again at my dream before I started to grow old and real life bitch slapped me into submission.

I will start the Game Development Program as an undergrad.

o98hz

 

 

All ticks must die

So while staying at my inlaws’ place for a week, I’ve discovered that I am not a country person.

After waking up with ticks sucking on my forehead a few times, I limited my venturing outdoors to a minimum. Cutie was forced to limit his outdoor activities after contracting rickettsia from a tick bite. He had to take some strong antibiotics as a precaution (if left untreated, it can cause Rocky Mountain Fever). Since we are in process of moving to Canada, we don’t want to risk having our visas rejected due to a health scare.

At this point I just feel like setting my in-law’s lawn on fire since they have no plans to help curve the tick population on their property (I guess the threat of lyme disease is not a real one). Everytime I am about to leave the house, I spray OFF Deep Woods spray on my shoes. Before I re-enter, I check my shoes and legs for ticks.

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I’ve already endured 3 weeks worth of mosquito and fly bites for the sake of academia. Those bites left scars on my arms and legs. At this point I do not mind finding a place to live in suburbia or in the city.

Crap… time to check my pant legs again.

Grounding for the fix

So after celebrating my friend’s b-day last night, I woke up
super-drowsy. I had to get up early to stop by the doctor’s office then go to work for a meeting. I also neglected to drink some coffee before leaving.

By the time I got to the doctors office building, my alertness was waning.  Desperate for a caffeine fix, I entered a grocery store in search of coffee to drink. I considered buying an energy drink, but nixed the idea after remembering getting heart palpitations from it. I also did not felt like buying a cold bottled-up version of Starbucks for $8.

So, in a daze, I went to the regular coffee isle and bought a small box of single-serve instant coffee packets for a $1. Since I did not have access to hot or cold water, I started to tear open a packet and eat the grounds.

ground coffee

The taste itself was enough to jolt the dead back to life. I tried to hold the ground crystals between my teeth to numb the horrible taste a bit. I felt like sucking on ashes than anything else.

The caffeine was sort-of kicking in, so I got another mouthful…

And regretted it even more. My mouth felt like death itself had defecated in it after a night of bad Mexican food.

By this time I was wide awake and cursing myself for trying such a crazy idea. But I saved $ 7 from that same idea. When I got to my desk, I regretted it even more: the meeting got cancelled.

Why didn't I just sleep in?!

Why didn’t I just sleep in?!