Hi, folks! Boy, this feels like a hard thing to ask, but I'm just going to plow through and ask for your help.
The short of it, with both wonderful news and not so great news. I spoke with the Bishop, who affirmed my call to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church. Alleluia! A gift from God! The not so great part: I can't be admitted to any seminaries, as I owe a significant debt directly to my university, and cannot receive my transcripts until I pay the debt.
The long of it:
I had a hard time in college. Like, a really hard time. I went through major losses and myriad mental health crises. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar 2 and ADHD, and realized that, in fact, many of my failures could have been mitigated with appropriate treatment (and, well, fewer family crises).
I paid almost all of my own way through school (with just one $3000 loan, now paid off), but dropped out my last semester, and never finished paying the bill.
I ignored it for too long, as life went on, babies were born, rents doubled, and we finally bought a house. I finally inquired about the debt late last year. My original debt to the university, a portion of my last semester's fees and tuition, has more than doubled with fees and interest and is now approximately $10,000.
I realize that lots of people have FAR more than that in student loan debt. The issue is that until I pay that amount in full, I cannot receive my university transcripts. There is no loan or grant program for direct-to-school debt, nor can the university settle, given that it is a debt to the state, and not a private company or institution. You can read more about the issues of direct-to-school debt and how it prevents students from finishing school at this link.
There are a handful of seminaries that will admit folks without bachelor's degrees, like me, but they simply cannot do that without my transcripts, which I cannot receive without paying this debt.
It feels so strange to ask friends and family for help paying a debt--but here I am. I know that so many support me in this endeavor, and I feel strongly called to the priesthood, for all of the reasons you all have heard me talk about a million times: using the church as a liberatory institution and the transformational power of the love of God to reconcile the church to all and move forward toward the Kingdom of God--where we all have our needs met and then some.
Thanks if you've read all of this, and thank you if you decide to give (or not!).