February 3, 2011 

Beth Wiesemann

I have recently come to the depressing conclusion that I am ineligible. In my quest to return to school for a little higher education, I have discovered that I qualify for no funding other than the kind that comes directly out of my checking account.

One of the most common government grants for people who want to go to school is the Pell Grant. I always assumed this was for low-income people, but for some reason I don't qualify. Apparently I'm very high paid and just didn't realize it. Perhaps I should call the bank and ask for the head of the Invisible Money Department to see if they could help me find this big pile of cash I wasn't aware I had. What extension is that?

It's not that the government isn't trying to help me. They've helpfully extended me a low-interest loan. For now. At some point though, I understand they'll want it back. Not only will they want it back, they'll want back more than they gave me, which I find to be very rude. When I give them money and ask for it back in April, all they feel compelled to give me is exactly the amount they took in the first place.

Does anybody know this Sallie Mae person? No offense, but I can't say that I care for her that much. The government loan I'm getting covers only so much. The rest has to come from somewhere else, so I was told to apply for a Sallie Mae Loan. I got through 95% of the application process, only to be told I'd need a co-signer. Exactly why would this be? I make too much for a Pell Grant, but not enough to be considered a good loan risk? I'm rich, I'm poor, I'm rich, I'm poor. Wax on, wax off.

Isn't Sallie Mae related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Freddie was giving substantially bigger loans to burger-flippers to buy $500,000 homes. What's Freddie's number? He seems to know the extension to the Invisible Money Department. I only need $4,400. Sallie's being difficult about helping me go to school so I can get a job that will actually allow me to buy a house without help from either Freddie or Fannie.

Evidently, I'm not a big enough burden to society. Silly me. All these years I've been working and frivolously paying those silly taxes. Why, oh why can't I be lucky enough to get laid off?

I shouldn't completely rule out scholarships. I'm sure I qualify for something. Admittedly, the women's field hockey scholarship is looking like a longshot at this point. Once I lose enough weight to pivot comfortably, I may reconsider. For now though, sports scholarships are going to have to go on the pile along with academic scholarships.

In my last article, I touched on some of the more interesting grants and scholarships available for school. I'm happy to report that I've since learned you don't actually have to speak Klingon to qualify for the Klingon Language Institute Scholarship. Sadly, you still have to be a pathetic geek.

It also seems that you still have to actually be left-handed to qualify for the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship for left-handed people. I'm practicing really hard for that one. I can almost chop an onion without nicking something. There's very little difference between my left-handed signature and my right-handed signature anymore. If only someone had a grant for sloppy handwriting.

I'm intrigued by the Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship. The description states that all students need to apply is to have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or their communities. Okay, so I'm not technically a vegetarian. And what I mean by this is that I eat meat. Every day. Sometimes twice. But it's a $10,000 grant. For that, I'm willing to eat Tofurkey for Thanksgiving for the next two years. For my application, I was thinking about walking around at our next Beerfest and filming myself slapping brats out of people's hands. That would show me promoting vegetarianism in my community. This could work.

Discover Card® gives out a pretty hefty award every year. In addition to maintaining a 2.75 GPA, the only other requirement is showcasing leadership while overcoming a "significant roadblock or challenge". I wonder if they would accept paying off my Discover Card as a big enough challenge. I look at my monthly bill as a pretty big road block. Because, like the government, Discover Card also wants me to give them back more money than they gave me in the first place.

The makers of the Gatling gun sponsor a full-ride to North Carolina State University if your name happens to be Gatling. With that in mind, I have to wonder what they'd give to the person who actually shoots someone with a Gatling gun. (That's looking to be more do-able than batting left-handed.) On second thought, I really don't want to move to North Carolina. Voluntary manslaughter I'd be fine with, but I really don't want to pack.

I'd humbly like to suggest a few grant categories that I did NOT find during my internet search, but would suit me perfectly. How about a grant for:

Procrastinators. They wouldn't have to give it to me right away. And I could pay it back...not now, I'm busy.
People with hair-trigger tempers. This would cover both school and bail.
Beagle lovers. I'll never have to worry about accidentally throwing any paperwork away because my beagle will pull it out of the trash can for me.
People who have trouble focusing. Sponsored by Facebook® and iPhone4®.
Punctuation. This would require writing an essay that has at least 10 commas, a semi-colon, one dash and cannot contain OMG, BTW, LOL or K. (Did we really need to abbreviate OK? Really?)
Sloppy people. They could send this to me in ten different envelopes, which I will then pile on my windowsill in between several Newsweeks, a couple of catalogs and a bowl of oatmeal.

I'm perfectly fine with having to work for funding. Grants should reward people for worthwhile achievements. If I could get one to give me $1,000 for every pound I lost last year, I'd be able to finance Harvard. Wouldn't that be a fun story to tell the grandkids how grandma used liposuction to fund an Ivy-League education?

Until then, I guess I'm just going to have to go with this whole "pay-my-own-way" thing. It's not the most American concept, but it's all I qualify for at the moment.

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