Help keep Mary Kate in school!

Alright folks I'll get right to the point - I am short on money for my tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and am floundering in my attempts to pull the funds together by August 1. I have been saving like crazy, but am still coming up short. I cannot register for classes until I pay the remainder of my account balance with the university so any assistance is appreciated.

I am preparing to begin my second year at UIUC where I am pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance. I will spare the sob story but will explain a little bit about how I came to be a GoFundMe patron.

I was accepted to UIUC when I was a senior in High School at the Youth Performing Arts School. I had my sights set on this university as it was both a prestigious research institution and a renowned dance program (nothing of this caliber is offered in my home state of Kentucky). I could not attend UIUC immediately upon graduating in 2015. I have been financially self-sufficient since high school, but in the Spring of 2015 I had a myriad of unforeseen family circumstances strike and I found myself working full-time for one year prior to enrolling at UIUC. At 40+ hours a week, I was working in Louisville at Heine Brothers Coffee Company and Dittos Bar and Grill so that I could sustain myself and save for college. Against all odds, I finally enrolled at UIUC in the Fall of 2016. My lofty expectations were far exceeded in my first year. Not only is it an environment in which I thrive academically (3.8 GPA with an overtime course-load), but I have found a supportive home amongst my peers and professors. I was cast in 5 pieces throughout the year (the maximum being 6) and worked part-time at a local Urbana-Champaign coffee chain called Espresso Royale.

Here comes my plight. I was expecting to receive a grant from the university to subsidize my tuition expenses for my first year. Unfortunately, I did not receive this money as my wages from working full-time, along with my mother’s, placed me above the necessary income line to receive grant money. Although I do not receive ANY financial assistance from my parents, it was required that I include my mother’s income on my FAFSA because I am not a) married, b) with child, or c) military.

Here’s the good news – the dance department thinks I fit in well and increased my scholarship for my remaining years at UIUC. Additionally, through a lengthy paperwork process, I could prove to the university that I am self-sufficient (my father is incarcerated and my mother is … just not able to help) and was granted Independent Student status in the eyes of FAFSA. This means that from here on out, I will be receiving enough grant, scholarship, and federal loan money to cover all educational expenses if I can pay the remaining balance from my first year.

If you have anything that could assist me, I will be grateful. If you have any further questions, contact me. Thank you.

Also, GoFundMe takes 5% of all donations. If you would like to forgo this fee, my Venmo is @MaryKateFord and my SquareCash is $mkford2 and if you would like to send a check, contact me via phone or email - [email redacted]

PC: Natalie Fiol in Rebecca Nettl-Fiol's choreography, "In The String Room"

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Mary Kate Ford 
Louisville, KY
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