Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Win Ben Stein's Food Stamps

Bitter? Comin' atcha.
So, some of you know a little about me, and for those who don't, feel privileged. I am not only a single mother of two, not only a volunteer in a children's drop-in center, umm.. not only a photographer and a research assistant, but I am also a full-time university student. This September is my fourth year, slated to graduate with an Honours Specialization in English Literature in June 2009.
This year is also my sixth consecutive year in post-secondary education, because I went to college for Early Childhood Education first.
Which means? Also my sixth year receiving OSAP - a Canadian program which loans people like me large amounts of money to complete my education. Its safe to say at this point, I've borrowed somewhere around the amount of $95,000. Yep. Count those zeros. Thanks to the grant program, my debts are reduced to a mere drop in the bucket, and I only owe my firstborn about half that.
But I digress.
Today? I'm UBER-pissed at the system.
As if it isn't bad enough to discourage single moms to get better educations, and therefore better jobs (in turn stimulating the economy and decreasing the strain on social programs); these wonderful women leaving the academic life with the equivalent of mortgages, but now - they are going to make me jump through hoops.
In July, I submitted EVERY form the government required, including proof of child support and child tax benefits (because, and I quote: We feel your annual income isn't enough to live on - isn't that ironic). I triple-checked, cause the government can be a bitch a stickler sometimes, and felt confident that my loan should arrive in early September as usual. Ha! Isn't complacency dangerous??
In mid-August, I got an email telling me that I didn't submit everything they needed (despite the assurances of my OSAP account online) and needed more. Which? I submitted. Four. Weeks. Ago. Today, I checked my account.. and? Still on hold.
While other students have now adjudicated their loans, and awaiting first payment of their monies at the end of this week, I am still frozen in the process somewhere.
With NO END in sight.
Today, I went to Financial Aid to request a contingency loan. For things like, I dunno, bills, textbooks, groceries... yanno. Ironically (this is becoming a theme here), despite the fact that I am a sole support parent for two young children (read: our roof is important to us), I am not eligible for any financial support until my loans are released. HUH?
Their solution?
"We'd be happy to provide you with food stamps until that time."
I repeat: HUH?!?!

Since when do food stamps pay the rent? And, why do I need to suffer that humiliation because the government hasn't yet fulfilled their obligations? UM, hello? Mister Prime Minister??

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