Corey Arvinger found out he had been purged from the Howard University system when he went to the cafeteria, swiped his card and a worker said he no longer had a meal plan. This began a year-long process to get back into school, as he owed $14,000.
“My mom didn't get approved for the Parent Plus Loan, which was $10,000, and then my aid went from $5000 to $1,000 and so I had owed $14,000 from the semester before they charged me. But they never notified me of that,” Arvinger said to BET.com.
Arvinger used a crowd-funding campaign to successfully raise the money to get back into Howard University. Yes, his story had a happy ending, but for many other students who are facing financial hardships, this is not the case.
Arvinger, 22, shared this story at a roundtable discussion on financial aid during the first webisode of BET's new web series, What's at Stake, hosted by BET News correspondent Marc Lamont Hill. This week's panelists include Orlando Watson, the Communications Director for Black Media for the Republican National Committee; singer Elle Varner; and Tamika D. Mallory of National Action Network.
Arvinger was determined not to let this roadblock stop him from getting his degree. Although more African-Americans are graduating from college, many are losing out on an opportunity to finish their education because of financial shortcomings.
With a strong following on social media, he and a friend came up with the idea to launch a crowd-funding campaign called “Four for $14,000” to raise money to pay back his debt. “My thought process was if I could ask all my followers on social media to donate $4, I could get back to school. And it actually worked.”
Arvinger then returned to his hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, and worked three part-time jobs to save more money until he raised the funds completely. It took him a year to accomplish this. He then received a $12,000 scholarship from MTV and Howard handed him a check matching that amount for his education. He also took out a loan from Sallie Mae. He is expected to graduate in December 2015.
"Corey's story is the story of 28,000 other students that are at our HBCUs across this country, all of who were not able to receive funding to go to college, and it's a crisis that we're facing and we have to find a way to fill in the gap and to fix it," Watson said during the roundtable discussion.
"And I know that there are elected officials on both sides of the aisle who are looking at solutions to address that problem," he continued.
Arvinger said he wished the university had done better in communicating with him about his financial status before he was purged. But he has no regrets. In the meantime, he looks forward to finishing his degree and has an interest in working in marketing or communications with a sports organization.
He also shared his thoughts on the upcoming midterm elections — Election Day is Nov. 4 — and what people should look out for in order to choose the right candidate to put in office.
“Know who you're voting for, don't just know their platform. Know the person," said Arvinger.
Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege_
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