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The Scarlet & Black

SGA to introduce new guide for low-income students

Photo by Shabana Gupta.
Photo by Shabana Gupta.

If you are having trouble navigating financial aid at Grinnell or want a more accessible and user-friendly guide to make your life easier, you’re in luck: there will soon be a new guide aiming to accomplish just that.

Not long ago, Tucker Haddock ’21, diversity and outreach coordinator for SGA, began designing a guide for low-income students out of a desire to ease their struggles at Grinnell. They noted that the guide would be aimed at assisting students in working through the red tape and bureaucracy surrounding financial aid at Grinnell.

Haddock noted that they had heard of low-income students encountering significant difficulties in dealing with their financial aid packages and with the Grinnell financial aid office. But they also mentioned that they had heard of people being helped by fellow students with such troubles.

This guide is to help spread such helpful information more broadly, and make it more accessible, said Haddock. “People don’t understand how financial aid is actually flexible, and I think people don’t sometimes know how to navigate the package they’ve been granted. And from anecdotes, I know there are people who’ve gone here for three years and their financial aid package has changed, and they were really struggling with that until they ran into the right person who told them how to go to the financial aid office and negotiate,” said Haddock.

The guide is to be for students and by students, and it will hopefully be able to give low-income students a more personal perspective from their peers that might not be available from College administrators. “I think that the simplest way to [describe the guide] would [be] that it’s formatted almost like a Wikipedia so that people can give input, because I think students have something really valuable that you’re not going to be getting from administrators,” said Haddock.

Haddock took inspiration from a similar project that had been in progress by Carrie Stallings ’19, but much of the documentation for that project was lost. “The concept was kind of floating around last semester, with Carrie Stallings, who graduated last semester,” Haddock said. “She had been working on something very similar, and that had been going on for a bit. Earlier in the semester she unfortunately lost a lot of documentation on that project, so this has been sort of a starting from scratch project, but she had been looking at something very similar so that’s how I got the original concept.”

Another inspiration spurring on this new project was the creation of a similar guide at the University of Iowa. The Iowa guide, called “Being Not-Rich@UIowa,” covers everything from employment, to housing, to financial aid, to health. The Grinnell guide, although it is especially aimed at helping students to navigate financial aid, is also intended to be comprehensive.

“The intention is to have a lot of information, centered around a single theme—instead of having to click through various parts of the Grinnell website—and then to have information that [students] have gained from just attending the College,” said Haddock.

Haddock aims to publish the guide within the first two weeks of the spring semester, and they intend to work on it more intensively over the winter break. “My hope would be to have it released in the first two weeks of spring semester,” said Haddock. “I mean the thing is, winter break is the largest block of time that you have except for summer break. I think this kind of thing really should be put out now. After classes start, it’s going to be difficult to put my time into this, so I’m putting pressure on myself by saying I want this out in the first two weeks of spring.”

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