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Getting by with a little help from his friends

Getting by with a little help from his friends

By Jane Simonton

After a meeting with the accounting office last Friday, Josh Samuels 14 who is on track to graduate in December knew it was time to ask for help.

Samuels left Kenyon in the spring of 2011, immediately after his junior year, and did not return until this semester. During Samuels hiatus, his mother retired. As a student who receives need-based financial aid, Samuels submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) his first three years at Kenyon and did so again when he returned this January. The problem, though, was that Kenyon was still operating on Samuels old FAFSA, the one he had filled out when his mother was still working. The FAFSA application is due in the spring, and because Samuels was not in school last spring, Kenyon is using the most recent one on file: its backdated two years and says Samuels mother is employed.

There wasnt enough money that was available [to pay Kenyon, even after] financial aid, so my mom wrote a letter, we looked into things, [and] Financial Aid was able to give us a little more money, [but] there was still this remaining balance, Samuels said. The problem is that they had been working off my mothers FAFSA from back when she was still working, so that was from a while ago, and then there was this hiatus, and she retired and they hadnt gotten that.

Samuels and his family explored taking out loans to cover the remaining balance, but decided not to pursue this option.

My mom has really good credit, so shes not going to get denied from one of these plus loans and Ive already maxed out my federal loans, and my mom is still dealing with the loans that shes cosigned for from my other two sisters, Samuels said. Shes like, If something happens where they default, its going to [fall] on me. And shes 66 years old this March. And shes like, I just cannot … take that risk with adding another loan to the pile, on top of the bills she already has to pay. And I dont feel right. Im a grown man, so I have to do what I can to make this work without my mothers help.

After factoring in his mothers contribution, his financial aid package and his research job with the psychology department, Samuels knew he still had to take other action to drum up funds.

I had left that meeting on Friday feeling slightly overwhelmed at this situation, and I just knew I had arrived at a moment where I had to go beyond myself, he said. I arrived at this moment where I need to reach out to the community in a way I hadnt done before.

So he went back to his room, set up a crowd-funding account on and sent out an all-student email advertising his fundraising campaign. So far hes raised $450.

According to Samuels, this measure was necessary, because of how flexible the College had already been in extending his financial deadlines he needs to get the money in before the end of the semester. His sense of urgency didnt make it much easier, though, to send out an email informing his peers that he still needs $4,325 to complete his semester at Kenyon.

I dont usually use the allstus and … I was like, Oh my gosh, people know me on campus, and I sort of went into this state of mind where it was more about doing and less about thinking, because I can overthink stuff, Samuels said.

Samuels credited the independent attitude he cultivated during his hiatus he lived on his own in Minneapolis with giving him the confidence to send out this financial plea to his peers.

After having gone through everything that I went through in Minneapolis, I was able to make this decision, knowing that the benefits outweighed any potential uncomfortableness that I might feel putting myself in a vulnerable position, Samuels said. Thats what it really comes from: I cant do any more, [but theres] strength in numbers, so well see what happens.

Despite all of this drama, Samuels insisted he is appreciative of Kenyons administration.

The administration and I have gone through quite a bit, Samuels said in a follow-up email. With regard to my financial situation, those involved have been very accommodating and patient in handling such a stressful and sensitive situation.

While the accounting office declined to comment on the principle of protecting a students privacy, Jennifer Delahunty, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, said the College has done all it can.

We have done everything we can to help Josh within the parameters that the College and the federal [government] have established, she said in an email.

Above all else, Samuels said he strives to stay positive about the situation.

I find it advantageous to maintain a hopeful perspective. At this point, with everything I have been through here, away and back at Kenyon, theres no way I am not going to continue fighting for my degree, Samuels said. This is just another hurdle put in my path for me to deal with and show how important crossing the finish line is to me.

Josh Samuels website is

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