College, for a lot of candidates, but especially for the economically downtrodden kind, is an assuring experience; forget about the like-minded Richard Brautigan readers you come across in the quad or those dudes who “get” Spinoza and want to turn the philosophy club into a beer symposium, I’m just talking about meal plans here, that, and the general fact that if you live on campus you don’t have to worry too much about the lights getting turned off.

 

For a good number of young people whose studies might otherwise be interrupted by consistent money worries, there is stability in the student life structure that higher education provides: a real four year (or however long it takes you to get out) respite from what the critics of college call “the real world.”

 

Once you get into school you might even get a cush student job and feel yet another level of comfort.

 

I had several of these gigs: editor of an undergrad lit journal; writing center red marker guy; and one fine semester I was the dude who microwaved coffee for a Picasso expert and walked it over to her during her lectures. That job had its perks. I was soon privy to the construction of a student art show wherein someone caked over a wooded cane with chocolate frosting.  After a week the piece smelled like sweet misery and even the ants stopped coming by.  Then there was the guy who placed a dead cat on an even deader looking couch; when I asked the artist where he got the corpse he said some guy had found it in an apartment and it had been passed around for several projects — so even for “found art” this thing was not exactly novel. Highlight of the whole event was some lady walking into the gallery, seeing the “silent auction” sign and carefully whispered an inquiry to me, very afraid she was being too loud: “Is this a silent auction?”

 

So there is all sorts of fun like that, but you’ve got to get there first; and assuming you did okay on the entrance exams, the real barrier is gonna be the bill.

 

There are several ways to not pay for college: you can come from money; you can come from folks that stashed cash, denying you those AstroWorld trips and the cool looking Trapper Keepers just so you could get that Communications degree; or you could take student loans and hope there will be some amnesty for you in the end.

 

That last one is the main one to avoid. But there is a way around.

 

Founded in 2004, The Hispanic Scholarship Consortium, HSC, has striven to increase the number of Hispanic students who want to access their higher education. It’s actually a pretty sweet deal. Once you are accepted into the program — providing you are a full-time student able to maintain 3.0 average — they’ll stick with you for up to three degrees. So: you can get an English Degree, a Creative Writing MFA, and become a PHD expert on PKD, and not have to worry that your barista job doesn’t handle the loan payments.

 

It’s one the safest, and smartest way to pay for the privilege of higher education.

 

Not that I took that route.

 

I have some vague memory of applying for something like this and not getting it.  I blame the laziness of my Media Studies prof who swore to me that he mailed off a letter of recommendation to the right committee, but likely delegated the task to an overworked TA who, really, now that I think about it, had a much easier job than having to stare at a dead cat and not stare too hard at the guy who was trying to sell it for $500, dirty couch not included.