I've updated the total to close this page. I want to say thank you one more time for your contributions - I really couldn't have done it without you. My mom is busily preparing for her final semester of college. She's even talking about how she might go on for a master's once she's done!
But it has. Your generosity enabled me to whittle down that ridiculous bill to the point where I could take out a loan to cover the gap. I am so grateful. I would not have been able to get a loan for more than $6500 on my graduate student salary, so you really made this happen! Thank you for being the very best of the humanity, as Doctor Who would say. :)
I broke the news to my mom today, who was a little shell-shocked! She's now in touch with the vice-president of NYIT and is going to work out how exactly to get the registration ball rolling.
I don't even know how to talk about the lightness in my chest. I've worried about this for so long that seeing it happen feels like watching someone else's life on television. You really have given us a happy ending! I will never forget you, my amazing friends.
Should any of you ever be in trouble, please email me. If I can't help directly, I'll use my blog as a platform for you. I am so proud to be part of a network that cares.
Wow! I am overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared and donated to this page. :) I think this really is going to work! All of your efforts have placed the total much more within my reach.
A few people have asked me about my mom's career plans. She has worked several admin assistant jobs over the years with just her old associate's degree. (They haven't paid well, as you can imagine from the existence of this page.) Her dream is to be a manager/owner in the health/wellness/fitness product industry.
She is currently part of a mentoring group for people who own home businesses in that area. She'd like to have her own business, too, but first she wants to get her toes wet in the field by working for an established company.
The debt collection agency I have been communicating with all along just informed me that they've got the account back from Cardean Learning group and S (the agent I've been speaking to) is once again authorized to work with me. But that's not the bad news. S has been wonderfully kind and understanding and has communicated with me openly throughout. I'm glad to talk to such a nice, professional person about the account.
The bad news is this: Cardean Learning Group, who still owns the rights to the account, never negotiates student bills. Never. Not even after 7 years of no contact when someone is offering a multi-thousand dollar payment. So the total is stuck at 7500.
This means I am relying on your help more than ever! And I am so, so grateful to everyone who has contributed already or shared my link.
I am not giving up. I'm going to contact my bank and ask about a private loan. I have worked with them for my car loan (in which I've never missed a payment, frequently paid more than the minimum, and am close to paying off the balance a year early). I'm hoping that my good track record with the bank will work in my favor. If it absolutely comes down to the wire, I might have to spread some of the payment around my existing credit cards - which is obviously a Very. Bad. Idea. but am willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen for my mom.
Reading your messages and seeing your gifts today literally brought tears to my eyes. My mom is not going to ever be allowed to doubt that she is loved, valued and supported by many.
I'm still waiting to talk to the right person about the account; if I can't get in touch with the bursar tomorrow, I'll ask the vice president who has been helping me to cut through some red tape.
I'm so grateful to my friends for sharing this site and to every one of you generous souls helping me get my mother back to school. Every little bit really does help. I am expecting a call from her university on Monday from someone who might be able to negotiate the bill with me. If I do succeed in talking them down a bit, I'll update the total here so you know exactly where we stand.
The best part is, she still has no idea this is going on! :)
My mother is sharp, and this might be the first real surprise I pull on her. ;)
My mom posted this sweet comment on my blog today:
"My dreams HAVE been fulfilled by knowing all your dreams are coming true! I already earned the "degree" in more ways than a diploma could ever acknowledge. Love is the highest honor anyone can achieve and I'm so proud of you for the love and compassion in your heart to risk sharing your private thoughts to help others. There is no greater love than this! Our trials taught us this. It's the fruit we bear after the tree grows that shows the true nature of the seed. What an awesome daughter you have grown to become! And, yes, I am stubborn in my love for you!!! Of course, I'm reading this "“ I'm your mother!!! And I will always support and encourage you to be all you were meant to be "“ a love gift to the world! I'm honored to be your mom!"
The lovely lady in the photo is my mother. I'm Kate, and her name is Mary Ann. Seven years ago, she was enrolled as a student at Ellis College of NYIT, one semester away from graduating with her bachelor's degree after two decades of raising, homeschooling and preparing me for college, while working at my dad's small business and various odd jobs. Then, just as she was about to register for her last semester, the financial aid office announced that someone in the office had failed to submit her financial aid documents in time, and she was now on the line for the cost of the last semester and barred from registering for the new one. I was 19, and could only watch helplessly as she received "no" after "no" and finally stopped trying to fight the decision. She had to drop out. She quietly said that God would open another door for her one day, then she put on her soldier's face and moved on with life.
For the past seven years, it has been one of my life's most important goals to help my mother go back to school. But as a graduate student, I have been up to my eyeballs in financial difficulty myself. About a month ago, I discovered that this coming academic year (2012-2013) is the last year in which former students of Ellis College can get their degrees. The College has been closed and faculty relocated to Ellis University and back to NYIT's brick-and-mortar school. Ellis students now are eligible to take classes online via Empire State College, SUNY, to make up any missing credits and earn their degrees. But after June 2013, that won't be true anymore. This is therefore my last year to try to help my mother go back to school.
My mother's parents weren't big believers in girls going to college, so they gave money to her brothers but not to her. But my mother is stubborn. My father says it's our Polish heritage. My mom is the kind of person who will make this world a better place or die trying, and even then come back and haunt it until the job is done. She worked her way through an A.S. in Computer Science and graduated all by herself in 1978. And she never let anything stand in the way of her daughter (me) going to school. I want to return her investment in me. I want her to know that she is still worth it.
The trouble is, I'm still a grad student. No matter how I push the numbers around, I can't quite make it work. The number attached to this story is the amount it will take for me to pay off her debt from that last semester. I have a letter from NYIT that guarantees she will be readmitted and allowed to graduate with her bachelor's degree this year if I can pay the bill.
I haven't told my mother that I'm looking into this yet. I don't want to get her hopes up and find out that I can't follow through. Will you help me bring her dream back to life and give this story a happy ending?
I am one of the librarians at Empire State College. If your mom has any questions about how the college works, have her contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't know everything (far from it) but I can hook her up with the people who do.
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