Just When You Think The Worst is Over...
So obviously you have to get financial aid right? Well try getting your parent's tax information(aka W2 forms) from a third world country. Until now I never even knew people paid taxes in Nigeria. So for the last 2 months I was waiting to get this tax information from home to submit my financial aid (FA) forms...you know...they have to verify that your dad isn't the King of Zamunda before they start giving you all kinds of scholarships and loans. So here I was with a deadline and waiting on the govt to release my parents tax information. One week before the deadline my mom's information was released (after paying $250 in "processing" fees of course), apparently my dad's will follow shortly. I got a phone call later from my mom telling me that they were now asking for another $750 to get my dad's information. You gotta love the inconsistency of the Nigerian bureaucracy. I proceeded to stare at my bank account for about 10 mins to try and figure out how I could squeeze out all that money...never mind that I still have to somehow pay rent, purchase a car and oh-yeah EAT. At this point I call the Oh-so-nice people in the admission office and begin to ask for some kind of extension seeing as there was no way one week would be enough to submit and process my FA application. I was thankfully granted a five day extension. Hopefully that would be enough. [By the way this deadline is the time within which I must show that I have the funds to cover my expenses for the first year of school (~60,000). If I had my financial aid award, I could deduct the amount I was given from the 60k and just show the balance in an account in my name. So say I was given 50k in aid, I needed to show that there was another 10k sitting in my bank account to cover the balance...you get the drift?]. Of course if I missed the deadline, my acceptance will be withdrawn, I will be back to square one and all the other good stuff that came with that...
After looking with no success for a way to bypass feeding the corruption of the Treasury Dept back home, at the end of the day I figured I would rather pay the 750 and face the possibility of starvation than wake up 10 yrs from now and realize I tanked my dreams because of what will then look like a very meager sum of money. It was after coming to this decision that I got on the phone with another Nigerian at the medical school to ask questions about apartments and such. We were about to round up our conversation when I casually decided to vent and ask how she went about getting all the tax info and stuff during her time. Her response was a life saver:
"What tax information? Who has such a thing in Nigeria??"
Apparently the lady I had been communicating with in the FA office was somewhat new and did not know how foreign students went about such things. All I needed was a Notary Public stating how much my parents earned. REALLY?!! I resisted the urge to call my parents at 3am their time and waited till they were up to give them the good news. Within two days I had all the necessary documents, submitted the application, still had my $750 in my account and waited to see how much I was going to be getting from the school.
On the day of the deadline, I got the information. I was hoping that with the need I showed on my application, I would have gotten most of my expenses covered either by scholarships or loans (all the aid is Need Based, no merit aid) and maybe have to show about 5-10000 dollars to cover the rest. Well, when I received the fax that afternoon, there was a gaping hole...30k wasn't covered by any of the aid. So somehow between now and the end of the business day(ahem 3hrs) I had to show 30k in my account. I quickly called the FA office to let them know what was going on and if there was any other way I could get the 30k covered. There was, thankfully, but it was a loan that I had to apply for and that would take about a week plus to go through.
I obviously did not have a week.
By LEGAL(I promise) means that I do not currently care to go into, I had 30,000 dollars in my account the next day, printed off the statements and faxed it over to the admissions office. For the next few days, I had to battle the urge to take all that money and get myself a lexus or something instead of the run down cars I had been looking to buy for a while now.
As we speak, the loan I applied for has gone through, I have returned the 30,000 to my benefactors (bye,bye Lexus) and I can now confidently say that the application process is finally over. [I have also prepared some form of speech ready in case the IRS or some other kind of watch dog wonders what kind of business I am involved in that involves juggling large sums of money between multiple bank accounts(especially with the "great" publicity we Nigerians are getting in the financial world)] I wake up most morinings now and count my blessings. I got into a school I actually wanted to go to, I will be financially independent- I didn't have to take out a loan under anyone's name, I got a better deal than expected on my car and I'm vacationing for the next month trying everything possible not to use my brain.
I hope this journey has inspired someone, it was the most vulnerable I have felt in my short life but it paid off in the end. There are probably people out there wondering if they're good enough to get into medical school or whatever dream career they plan on going into, I felt the same way at the beginning of this process and wanted to back out before the end just in case I didn't get in anywhere, at least I could withdraw my apps before they all actually rejected me. But I'm glad I saw it through. Thank-you all for the support, being able to share the process with you even during the most difficult parts was a very potent stress reliever.
Honestly if this whole process didn't work out, I would literally have had to pack my bags and go back home because I would have lost my legal status...but He really did not bring me out this far to take me back again...
PROMISED LAND HERE I COME!!
Please continue to send emails and questions my way, I love hearing from you and will try to help the best I can (firstname.lastname@example.org)