Commuters are whiney

Contributing Writer

As an upcoming senior at Piedmont College, I am all too familiar with the frustrations associated with financial strain when trying to pay for school. A student loan is a bad word and is something that most students are either dealing with now or will in the near future. Regardless if the student lives on campus or commutes, loans are simply a part of life when choosing to go to college.
For residential students, the academic scholarships they are eligible for range from $8,000-$13,000 per academic year. Residential students can also have the HOPE scholarship as well as Pell Grant. However, all commuters over the age of 25 aside from commuting nursing students receive the Neighborhood Grant scholarship, are eligible for Pell Grant, and receive the HOPE scholarship if it is within seven years of their high school graduation.
The Neighborhood Grant scholarship covers half of the tuition cost for commuters. In addition to that, commuters can apply for FAFSA the same way that any residential student can. Of course the amount of Pell they are granted is based on the same basic information that a residential student would have to provide.
For example, how much annual income the household acquires and how many dependents they have in their home. I am willing to bet that if students were to compare their award letters to commuters, many of the residential students would actually pay more to attend Piedmont College. Even if a residential student were to have the highest academic scholarship awarded, had full Pell grant and HOPE, their cost would still be higher than a commuter who also receives Pell Grant as well as the Neighborhood Grant Scholarship. The only way this would be different for a residential student would be if they receive a departmental scholarship.
Both residential students and commuters can have full- time jobs, family members to help take care of, and many other stresses that come with being an adult. I understand that raising a family while being a full-time student and having a job can be an incredible challenge and I greatly look up to those that do that.
However, to imply that commuters should be eligible for all of the same academic scholarships as well as the Neighborhood Grant program, Pell Grant and HOPE simply because of their strenuous life is unfair. If this were the case, many commuters would probably make money while attending Piedmont College.
At many other institutions, commuters would be expected to pay for full tuition if it has been more than seven years since the student graduated high school because they would not be eligible for HOPE. This means that each commuter would more than likely be paying well over $20,000 per academic year either up front or through student loans.
Honestly, Piedmont College is doing many people in the community a favor by offering scholarships to commuters.
It is important to understand that not all residential students have parents or guardians helping them pay for school. It is disrespectful to imply that these students do not hold jobs and carry vital roles for their families. I have friends who attend Piedmont that work almost every day, help their families pay for food, and also pay their cell phone bill and car insurance all with a minimum wage job. I’m sure they also help pay for other expenses that they do not share with others.
Piedmont has done a good job of making sure residential and commuting students can attend all school events. Any student, residential or commuter can get into all sporting events, and theatre and music performances for free with their student ID. It may be a bigger challenge for commuters because they do not live on campus but the school is not to blame for that.
If you would like to be involved, always ask before assuming that the staff or professors will not allow you too simply because you do not live on campus.
For example, any Piedmont student can be in Piedmont Chorale if they wish regardless if they are commuters or live on campus.
Residential and commuter students should take advantage of all of the experiences Piedmont offers. Attend some sporting events and performances and be thankful that you are able to attend college