Michael's College Tuition

Hello! My name is Michael Harding and I just recently graduated from Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA and I am an incoming freshman to Boston University, where I will be pursuing a double major in Physics and Math with a minor in French before moving on to eventually pursue a PhD in Physics. I graduated from Freedom as #5 in a class of about 460 seniors and was elected by the faculty to deliver a speech at graduation. I was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with over 300 hours of community service. I took 8 AP classes throughout my four years in high school and scored the maximum score of 5 on all 8 AP exams. In addition to this I also earned a perfect 36 on the ACT exam, a 1530 on the SAT exam (out of 1600), and I was a National Merit Finalist.

On July 9th, 2001, when I was only 2 years old, I lost my father to brain cancer. This left my mother and I, and my whole family, with years of pain and sorrow. Knowing that pain all too well, I don’t want anyone else to have to know what that is like, to lose a family member to cancer. Growing up, I always tried to donate my dollars and cents here and there to St. Jude’s and other cancer research hospitals, but my $0.73 change dropped in a tin at the local CVS could only do so much. Luckily when I got to high school, my school had a Mini-Thon organization that partnered itself with Four Diamonds at Penn State University to raise significant amounts of money to help fight pediatric cancer, which I became a member of as soon as possible. During my time at Freedom, our Mini-Thon raised well over $300,000 for the fight against cancer. On a recent visit to Boston University, I learned about a research project one of the professors is working on to use low energy particle Physics to create advanced medical imaging technology that could revolutionize the future of medicine and help us combat complex diseases such as cancer. Now I know I will be able to use my career in Physics to give back and continue to fight cancer so some day, no one will have to live through what I have and lose someone you love to such an awful disease.

Unfortunately, my family doesn’t make much money. We are living solely off of the income of my stepfather, who works nights in a warehouse, and with two little sisters at home, (one of them being diagnosed with ADHD with Anxiety Disorder and Sensory Issues, which requires expensive weekly therapy) my parents cannot afford to help me with my college tuition at all, and thus I am entirely on my own. I was awarded Boston University’s Presidential Scholarship, which gives me $20,000 towards my tuition per year for my four years, and was also awarded $10,800 in need-based aid, which gives me a total of $30,800 of my tuition paid for per year; however, cost of attendance at BU is $70,300, leaving me to make up the $39,500 difference. I appealed to the university’s financial aid department, asking for more need based aid to help me, but was denied and left with the original aid package. Thankfully my parents have some money saved for me, about $13,500, but unfortunately that still leaves $26,000 unaccounted for, for my freshman year alone. Without help from somewhere, I will graduate from college with well over $100,000 in loans, and because I will be going on to pursue a PhD in Physics, I will not be done with schooling until I’m nearly 30, by which point that debt will have grown astronomically. My goal at this point is to get through my freshman year without taking out any loans, and I will reevaluate my situation after this year when more scholarship opportunities will hopefully arise and I may potentially get more aid from Boston, but for now I am trying to get rid of the $26,000 difference I can’t make up. I’m not asking for any one person to give a large sum of money, any little bit helps, and I’m grateful for those who have taken the time to read my story this far, even if you decide not to donate. Thank you so much!

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Michael Harding 
Bethlehem, PA