Navigating college as a first-generation college student can feel like making your way through a maze with no map, filled with “learn as you go” lessons, and “crap, I wish I knew this then.” When you combine that with being low-income, it can feel like you’re navigating the same maze blindfolded, on a tightrope, balancing multiple responsibilities. It should not be like this.
I started OSU in 2008 and graduated with my masters in 2014. Recently, I returned to OSU to serve as the first ever Basic Needs Navigator at the HSRC. My role boils down to connecting students to resources that help ensure basic needs are being met. I also support students as they navigate institutional policies and procedures in search of resources.
At the end of the day, I am most concerned with connecting students to resources (this often means $$$), so they may only worry about studying for midterms, not about how they will eat or pay for rent. Since July, I’ve helped students access over $161,500 dollars in resources. Keep reading to learn how I can help alleviate financial stress.
Above are some common ways I help students access $$
I know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate college on your own. Of seven siblings, I was the first one to attend college. I have one memory in particular about my transition to OSU, no matter how far removed I am from it, I feel what I felt then by just thinking about it. 10 years ago, I was walking across from where my office is now, Champinefu Lodge, eating cheerios out of the box- it was the only thing I had eaten that day. I had no money to buy anything else. Out of the blue, I began to sob as I stuffed handfuls of Cheerios into my mouth. It was 10pm, dark with no lighting, I assumed no one would see me cry. I had never felt so alone in my life. Not knowing where to go or who to turn to for help, I felt like I had no choice but to get through this experience alone. “Who else would be experiencing this in college?”I thought to myself.
The reality was that I was not alone in my experience. Of the 970 OSU students who applied to the Food Assistance Application in the Fall of 2018, 54% percent were “very-low food secure” as determined by USDA’s Definition, with 18% of applicants reporting to have gone an entire day in the past 12 months without eating because of financial concerns. That is 172 students, 42% higher than last year when 117 students reported that!
I was not alone in my experience back then, and you are not alone in your experience today, WE SEE YOU! The HSRC is here to help.
What can I help you with?
Almost anything! I’m kind of like a generalist who is pretty savvy about finding things out and navigating resources. I get paid to navigate, it’s literally in my title! If I do not know the answer to your question, I know the person who does & I will walk you over to meet them (unless it’s raining. I can’t do wet socks). Here are some common things I can often help with:
- Access to food & groceries
- Unforeseen emergency expense causing barriers to enrollment
- Tuition refund due to an extenuating circumstance
- Lost scholarships due to unforeseen circumstances
- Finding help paying for utility bills
- Signing up for Oregon Health Plan
- Grant money!- parent lost a job/financial situation does not reflect that of 2016 tax year?
- Financial Assistance with a medical bill/emergency
- Pell/financial aid running out a few terms away from graduation!
- Hard time making ends meet
- Feeling like you are a bill away from homelessness
- Place to stay- homeless or housing insecure
- Financial stress!
Why should you come see me?
“Miguel came in clutch when I needed help with resolving a hold I had on my account.” – HSRC student fall 2018
I helped 120-ish students access over $161,000 since I started in July. You might be missing out on resources that you would otherwise be receiving. Looking back at my college experience, I identified over $10,000 dollars that I missed out on because of bad advising or not being aware of resources. I will do everything I can to try to make sure that you will leave our meeting with knowledge of at least one new to you resource ($$) that you have access to, if not more.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are what your peers have to say:
I will try my hardest to figure things out together
“I took your advice… and I was awarded a scholarship of $1360 to cover my balances. As of right now, I have been able to sign up for a few of my classes…. I am forever grateful”
“Miguel’s best quality is empathy, he connects with the student in a way that he feels the student’s pain and stress, this leads him to want to fight and resolve the issues!…”
You might leave with a lot more than what you came in for
“Miguel has your back. Not only will he help you with what you’re seeing him about, but if he overhears another concern he will help with that too.”
“…Meet with Miguel about financial aid, food stamps and finding other financial help. He helped me so much!!! I really appreciate him”
Wrap around support in a supportive space
“Going into these types of meeting can be difficult because suddenly you are talking about yourself and the difficulty of your situation, which is hard to talk about in itself…Miguel works with you to meet you in a spot that you leave with a plan or next move and is focused on your overall well-being and your individual needs.”
“Miguel is very understanding and knowledgeable. He’ll ask you questions to get a full understanding of your situation without prying for any personal detail. He’s really pleasant and easy to talk to.”
I am here to support you!
You should not feel alone in your experience. College and academics are hard as it is- financial stress is the wrong kind of rigor many student face. Let me work alongside you to make it a little less stressful by connecting you to resources.
If you would like to find a time to meet or have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.