“Theresa” has always worked hard. She’s a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh, she works part-time at a retail store, and she holds a second job on the weekends. Surely, Theresa is a model citizen and student, but she claims to have one fault: “I don’t like to ask for anything,” she says this as we’re sitting in her third-floor apartment just outside of town.
“I’d like to live closer to school, but the cost is just too much,” she says.
Theresa had a rough time her first few years of college. Although Pitt is a public university, the costs were still overwhelming. As a non-traditional student, Theresa had little-to-no parental support and little hope of finding scholarships that would fit her situation.
“Oh, it was awful,” she says remembering the adjustment to a four-year university, “I clearly had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
The “what” in this situation is the cost of attendance. Collegedata.com states that the average monetary sum of a year at Pitt is upwards of $33 grand; that includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and a category simply marked, “other expenses” (which totals $3,222).
“I was scared shit-less when I first got to school,” Theresa says cynically, “I refused to buy anything out of fear that I would need it to buy a book or a fucking pencil for Christ’s sake.”
She stops suddenly and looks up to the ceiling, imitating herself, “I remember laying in bed repeating the words, ‘I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry, I’m not hungry’ just to convince myself that I wasn’t [hungry].”
[End Part 1]