For Poor Students, An Ivy League Full Ride Isn’t Always What They Imagined

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To reach the Ivy League after growing up poor seems like hitting the jackpot. Students get a world-class education from schools that promise to meet full financial needs without making them take out loans. But the reality of a full ride isn’t always what they had dreamed it would be.

Here at Columbia University, money pressures lead many to cut corners on textbook purchases and skip city excursions routine for affluent classmates. Some borrow thousands of dollars a year to pay bills. Some feel obliged to send money home occasionally to help their families. Others spend less on university meal plans, slipping extra food into their backpacks when they leave a dining hall and hunting for free grub through a Facebook network called CU Meal Share.

“If you want to have some sort of social life, you have to pay for that, too,” said Lizzette Delgadillo, 20, a junior from Los Angeles. Her father is a trumpet player in a mariachi band, her mother a housekeeper. “New York’s very expensive. I’m happy. But financially, it’s pretty hard.”

Such challenges are widespread in higher education, and at many schools far more severe. But awareness of them has grown in recent years at top colleges seeking to diversify what were once bastions of exclusivity and privilege. The more they recruit from impoverished and working-class neighborhoods….

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One thought on “For Poor Students, An Ivy League Full Ride Isn’t Always What They Imagined

  1. Part of the problem is that the student is suddenly in another
    completely different culture, with classmates who have had a lot
    of privileges growing up. I think minority students are prepared academically but not emotionally for that change. I saw it happen when I worked at an out reach program trying to entice minority students to go to go (and stay) in college. Their Latino parents were always coming to campus, telling them they missed them and interfering with their adjustment. It was sad when those talented students left their future education because of pressures from their families.

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