College affordability haunts the minds of parents (and kids) everywhere, pretty much from the time the little ones are born until they finally (hopefully) graduate with a degree. Costs have soared to the point where many cannot afford it, at least not without taking on obscene loads of student debt – so you can see why being promised scholarship money in kindergarten would have been an enormous relief for a family.
South Florida student Ynette Lopez was promised $3000 a year towards to Florida university of her choice back in 2007, but now that she’s finally getting ready to graduate from high school, the organization is telling only her, not the other 96 kids in her ‘class’, that she hasn’t qualified.
Ynette’s mother, Zondra Aimes says that she’s been in contact with the organization, I Have A Dream, but hasn’t gotten the answers she wanted.
“They stated that each kid would receive $3,000 per year for whatever four-year college or university for Florida only…Now that she’s a high school senior, she has been told that she hasn’t qualified for the tuition fees they promised.”
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She was given two reasons: one was that they moved (not out of Florida, just to a different county), and the other was that she “did not keep up with the program.” Zondra claims that she had confirmed with I Have A Dream that their move was ok, and that she checked in with them every year or two to make sure everything was still on track for the scholarship – and up until this year, I Have A Dream kept saying it was.
Legal expert Howard Finkelstein weighed in on the matter.
“Legally, this is really tricky, because the contract is not clear, and there is wiggle room for both sides. The foundation has a strong argument, because after Ynette moved, she did not go to any of their programs, and Zondra said she only contacted them every year or two. But favoring Ynette is that she got great grades, did volunteer work and became the kind of student the scholarship was created for.”
The head of the I Have a Dream Foundation Miami chapter, Stephanie Trump, confirmed that even though 21 kids moved out of the area after kindergarten, Ynette is the only one to be denied the scholarship.
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The senior is currently applying for scholarships elsewhere, but her mother is considering suing the foundation in small claims court. She would be willing to compromise, but believes her daughter deserves some amount of scholarship because she put in the work.
“She participated in at least six years of it, so $1500 every year instead of $3000? Something, because she did participate.”
It sounds reasonable to me, but I’m no lawyer – we’ll have to keep tabs and find out what happens, but whatever it is, I hope that Ynette has a great college experience and doesn’t let this stop her from the education she’s earned.