I can see why people don’t love to go for grants. I don’t claim it’s an easy process. Rather, I view it as a “worth it” one in some cases.
In September, I applied for post-secondary funding for January. We’re two weeks til the semester start date, and I’ve received nothing. After I asked enough departments, I received confirmation that “funds will be coming.” Oh.
I don’t know how much, or when.
Further, I’m told that while I’m eligible to hire a tutor and have that cost covered, the following is also top secret until part way through the twelve-week semester:
- who is eligible to serve as tutor;
- the contact info of the person who knows some;
- how much I can offer the tutor per hour;
- how many hours of work I can offer the tutor.
The system’s expectation is that within the twelve week semester I will, in this order:
- start school
- at a specified date, become liable for the course cost
- some day—maybe before; maybe after that—maybe receive an unknown amount of funding
- become permitted to officially request a tutor
- begin the paperwork for that
- wait for the response
- receive approval to hire a tutor, and the details of that criteria and budget
- hire the tutor
- finally begin receiving tutoring
I live inside a different timeline, where tutors also have schedules and are often not available on a moment’s notice.
In my dream world, and probably the tutor’s dream world, all of this would have been arranged, say, two months—heck, even three!—after I had submitted my initial application.
So, I get it. Grants are weird and cumbersome and tricky. We aren’t allowed to know what’s coming, when. We can’t hire until after the program’s official start date. And so on.
Frankly, I worry about the effect this approach has on younger students. Not only might they experience significant additional stress—not knowing what’s coming when, and being unable to arrange anything in advance—they are actively taught at school to make financial commitments they may or may not be reimbursed for. They are pressured to just “wing it” and “hope for the best” and “trust that everything will be fine.” Is it any wonder so many bright students exit with a degree, massive debt, and a habit of buying on credit? They spent four years being taught to.
A lot of disability services—inside and outside of the postsecondary school system—urge likewise. It’s all “well and good” for a third party to urge us to rack up the bills without assurance; they’re not the ones left with payment due.
Similarly, a friend was ripped off by a large bank recently, because the bank pitched on vague promises, and asked my friend to trust.
Despite my frustration, I apply. The process is no better or worse than the irritation of most other jobs. At the moment, they’re offering me cash bonuses of $4000 per year, plus the in-kind equivalent of $2000. The system’s not ideal, but until I’m making an equivalent rate at any other activity, I’ll take it! But, I also keep an eye on their systems, so that I’m not the one left with a hefty bill if they err anywhere along the way.