Hi. This is long. It might be triggering if you’re sensitive to discussion of depression.
I graduated from high school in 2008 and started at the local community college immediately. It’s what I had to do to continue living in my parents’ house. (A reasonable expectation.) But I’d been depressed and suicidal since age 16 and spent 7 years signing up for classes, dropping them, failing them, and even passing some of them. I ended my career at that college with 141 attempted credits (66 earned) and a GPA of 2.3. I was receiving counseling, psychotherapy and medication most of this time. I did not apply for or use financial aid. (I know the government doesn’t care about this.) I just … didn’t have a plan, didn’t care, didn’t want to be alive. Didn’t care about my future because I didn’t have one anyway. All of my energy was devoted to mental illness. The only thing I wanted was to die.
I turned 25, moved out of my parents’ house (the alternative was suicide), and eventually started community college in California. So, at this point, I have attempted about 200 credit hours across the two schools and I have a 3.7 GPA at my new community college. I stopped getting treatment for depression 4 years ago because I was no longer suffering. I’m fine now.
A few months ago, I filed for a graduation check and discovered that the school didn’t have my previous transcript on file, and they had no record of me ever meeting with an advisor or counselor despite the fact that I did. I had no idea! I sent them an official transcript at that point.
My new school has paid me about $6k in Pell grants (before I submitted that transcript). Last week I read about SAP and now know that I was ineligible for that money. I’m terrified now that I’m going to have to repay that money. (My finances are abysmal and I’m both unemployed and ineligible for unemployment right now.)
I’m starting at a CSU in the fall and my plan was to power through my BA as fast as possible to get this over with, finally, so I can start a career and no longer be broke and in debt. For the first time in my entire life, I don’t want to die. I don’t know how to make this work but I want to. I have to.
So, basically, I messed up over and over and over and over again,
currently have 200 attempted credit hours and am not meeting PACE,
was awarded Pell grants no one knew I wasn’t eligible for,
and am terrified I’m going to have to repay them,
be barred from any federal financial aid in the future,
and have to drop out of school for good,
just as I figured out how to make things right and restart my life.
I know I can appeal but I need to finish half a BA, so that’s about 60 more credit hours … I think the school would have to be insane to approve further aid for someone like me. I’ve also seen some schools say that chronic illness isn’t a justification, which is … fair. I shouldn’t have done what I did.
If you have any experience with this process, please advise me. I know I have to talk to my school’s financial aid office but I need some idea of what’s going on, what might happen, and what I need to do at this point or I’m just going to call them on the phone and cry hysterically.