all in the same boat - college scholarship in jeopardy

Financial aid is an absolute necessity for nearly every Rocking the Boat graduate who enrolls in college. Unfortunately, it can also be a bewildering labyrinth of procedures and pitfalls.

This spring, a Rocking the Boat graduate, G., was finishing up sophomore year at Hunter College, essentially free thanks to a New York State Excelsior scholarship, when there was trouble. Amid confusion over prerequisites, G. dropped a class and fell below the required number of credits. The scholarship was summarily revoked, G. was locked out of registering for any more classes, and the funding needed to finish college was suddenly gone. Anxiously, G. immediately placed a call for always-ready backup, Rocking the Boat’s Alumni Social Worker, Stevi Feinberg.

Stevi has developed an effective playbook for handling even the thorniest financial aid issues. Keeping the students front-and-center in their own advocacy, she helps them plot out the steps they need to take and access school resources such as academic and financial advisors. In normal times, when students are going to school locally, the call to the relevant college office is often made from Stevi’s desk, while she sits at their side, backing them up to make sure that all the important questions were asked and the information received is clear. If needed, Stevi will even escort a student to a school’s financial aid office for an in person meeting.

Of course none of these methods are options right now. College offices are closed, advisors are harder to reach, and Stevi is working from home; what was already difficult has become even more so.

Instead, Stevi used every available technology and old-fashioned preparedness to continue supporting her alumni, including this worried student. Over texts, screen sharing, and video calls, they have pored over the documents and prepared lists of questions for the school. After every email and call with advisors, G. immediately contacted Stevi to go over the answers. The school’s advisors said the only remedy was a direct appeal to the state scholarship program, but warned the chances of success were slim. In constant contact throughout last week, Stevi helped G. assemble a flurry of documentation to submit the appeal.

The reply email came the next day, with uncharacteristic and unnerving speed. The message was brief and not exactly clear. G. forwarded it immediately to Stevi, adding in all caps, “DOES THIS MEAN WHAT I THINK IT MEANS?” It did. G.’s Excelsior scholarship had been reinstated, covering the remaining two years of college. And G. starts summer classes next week.

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bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799

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