Writing to our Legislators

800 students at UMass Amherst recently wrote personal letters to their legislators.  The letters told compelling personal stories and asked for increased funding for our campus budgets and for financial aid.  After many hours of late night sorting, the letters were hand delivered by students and PHENOM members, and the entire stack of 800 has been sent to UMass President Caret.   Here are a just a few excerpts: 

“I can think of 7 peers of mine on the floor of my dorm alone who had to drop out after first semester due to financial problems.”

“My parents had diligently planned and saved in preparation for my college education.  However, in this time of price inflation, the costs of a college education have exceeded their expectations, and their savings, after being used to its end, will probably only put me through two years.  Although I am more than willing to help out, I find it demeaning that their life’s struggles and accomplishments are not enough to support my education.”

“However if the price keeps going up with no more assistance from the state, I can see this school no longer becoming an option.  I myself go home two weekends a month to work at Berkshire Medical Center to help myself stay afloat while in school, and working so much while trying to get to my studies is quite the burden.”

“Both of my parents are collecting unemployment, and although they are trying to find jobs, it doesn’t look good.  Neither of my parents went to college, so my whole life they have been determined to send my brother and me to good colleges.  We both chose UMass Amherst, but being three grades below him, I got the financial short straw.  I waitress at two restaurants and barely make enough for my rent, groceries, school books and whatever my parents can’t afford of my UMass bill.  I have struggled to get into my prerequisites for my major, causing me to change it 2nd semester of my junior year.  I will be lucky to graduate on time, but paying to stay another year, or even semester, is not an option.”

“I am the second of five children to go to college and already $90,000 in debt from a previous sibling in college.  When my mother came to this country she was able to work and pay off her student loans.  Now, she struggles to help me pay for an education that I need to put me on the right track to being successful.  I am not alone.”