My name is Yasmin Adams, I am 21 years old, and I am a college student. I just completed my third year of schooling at Pomona College in California. I am passionate about completing my degree at Pomona College, because I believe that a college degree in the liberal arts, at this school, in my majors (Linguistics and Theater) is integral to my learning, growth, and ability to give back to the communities that have raised me. I love working with the creative minds here. I love learning from these professors. I struggle like hell to get through school at all, and this is one of the few places where I think that struggle is worth it. I have worked so hard to get here, so hard to stay here, so hard to get everything I need and want out of this experience, and I want the degree to show for it.
I applied to Pomona College with the understanding that I was financially dependent on both my parents, who have had split custody over me since they divorced when I was four years old. I understood that they, as co-parents, were willing and able to pay for me to complete my degree. I have been finding out over the past year or so that this is not, in fact, the case. My mother, who does not really have the money but can therefore receive financial aid, used financial control over me as a way to continue her childhood abuse of me, and so I cannot depend on her for support. My father, who can afford the college, and whom I was depending on to pay, has chosen to ignore his responsibility to support me in the past year. I did not know about this choice until I was fully in debt for a semester that nobody has paid for, and now I have no support to continue at the school.
My options to remain in the school are incredibly limited:
1. Petition to change my dependency status with the school so that I can be evaluated as an independent student and be given financial aid based on my own income.
This is the option I want the most, because I think the school should offer financial aid to students whose parents are not the people the college wants them to be. In order to self-declare as an independent student, I must be married, have kids, be in the armed forces, or be twenty-four. Otherwise (as is the case), I must petition to be an independent on the grounds of estrangement or abuse. In order for that to work, I have been told by the Office of Financial Aid that I must bring in three signed letters from “objective professionals” attesting to my abuse or estrangement. These people cannot be related to me, must have witnessed my situation firsthand, and must be some sort of authoritative professional in my life – a schoolteacher, a clergymember, a therapist, etc.
Now, I feel it is necessary to mention a certain point: a huge part of the nature of emotional abuse, especially of children, is that we are told not to tell. I was constantly told by my mother that nothing was wrong, I couldn’t tell anyone anything about her or what was happening at home, I was remembering things wrong, my emotions were invalid and actually I was the one abusing her. To this day, she gaslights me about events that I recall as traumatic, telling me they either didn’t occur because she would never do something like that, or that I am remembering them wrong and here’s how she was actually very sweet and kind to me that time. I didn’t dare to think of the word “abuse” until 11th grade in high school. I didn’t dare to think of actually describing things she said or did to me in detail to anyone until college. I never filed for emancipation, because the one time I ran away from home, my mother called the police, and they asked me if anything was wrong, and I told them no, and they told me I could file for emancipation if something was wrong, and then they laughed as they drove away, and my mother screamed at me until 7am the next morning. I was afraid. That’s the whole problem. I barely said anything to my friends who noticed something was wrong. I barely said anything to my therapist who my mother hired “to deal with ADHD”. What I did say, my mother was swift to counter. So I may not have three professional “objective” authorities who can attest to abuse in a signed letter.
2. Sue my parents for the money for my education.
Given that both my parents have been listing me as a dependent on their taxes, as far as I know, I think it might be illegal for them to also not be supporting me. So I might be able to sue them for the money for college on those grounds. This issue might be complicated by the fact that I don’t know what was in their divorce agreement about paying for my education. I’ve only been told a paltry amount of information about what monetary agreements my parents have made about me at all; in my dad’s recent email, he told me my mother owes me $100,000 that neither of them have ever talked to me about (and I doubt she has). Also, I don’t know if either of them have filed their taxes for this year or even the last one.
How You Can Help
Regardless of how those two processes go, I am forced to take leave from the school. Hopefully, at the most it will be until I am 24 and can self-declare as an independent student. In the meantime, I’ll be spending the next three years keeping myself afloat, going through the two processes listed above (which includes costs for legal help), trying to pay back my debt of $27,636 to the school and my current loan of $20,000 back to Wells Fargo, which I am obliged to start paying a year after my “expected graduation” date (May 2017), and trying to save money for the cost of the final year of school ($70,000 is the current estimate, though hopefully I would be able to pay less due to financial aid based on my own financial information).
I’ve set the campaign amount to $27,636 because that’s the bare minimum I need- the amount required for me to remain enrolled at the school (to pay off my debt from last semester). However, as you can see, there are many other costs I need help to cover, and I would appreciate a donation of any amount to help me cover these costs.
Thank you for your time and support,
Yasmin D. S. Adams
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