“Broke” College Student: Poverty vs. Privilege

The phrase “I’m a broke college student” is tossed around like lunch in tubber ware. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this, I would not be a broke college student! I have no issue with people embracing their brokeness. However, I do find it problematic when people who aren’t actually broke say this phrase as if poverty is not a reality for many of us.

What does it mean to be broke? 

You can’t go to dinner with friends or you can’t eat dinner at all?

You tell me!

You do not know about this broke life! You do not know about the ramen noodle every other night, life!

Being a broke college student is no joke. For a student coming from poverty, pursuing and successfully receiving a college degree is a battle in itself; getting into college is the easy part!

As an English Major, the cost of my books are at least $200 per semester. I wanted to be a Studio Art Minor, but thats a pretty pricey diploma! Depending on what kind of  high school you come from, reading all of these books is an entirely different struggle, one that has a direct correlation to poverty and educational inequity.

Many [poor] students also have to work. I work at least 6 hours a week. Many of peers have a jobs in addition to being full time Residential Advisors. This means they can be working 15 or college mememore hours a week. This is 15 hours taken away from their studies.

Colleges and Universities are [unconsciously] perpetuating a system of oppression by neglecting the needs and circumstances of students from poorer backgrounds who have to work and studying and maintain their sanity.

The ramifications of being a broke college student don’t simply start and stop at not being able to buy alcohol and Chinese food on the weekends. Being broke affects how we work, when we work, and host of other things that more privileged students do not have to even consider.

I’m not saying that institutions have to hold our hands, but what I am saying is that institutions need to give us more money to not only fund our educations, but to help sustain us during this very difficult journey.

Just in case you are still unclear, below are 4 ways to help YOU determine whether or not you are actually a “Broke College Student”:

  1. Do you receive a PELL Grant? What is your families annual income? What you’re EFC?  (Are you broke or nah?)
  2. Do you get an allowance? Can you call your parents and get more if you run out?
  3. Do you have a work study job or are you an R.A to help fund your education? (Yes! 1 more point on your broke chart!)
  4. Can you afford eat out more than once a week? (Hell No! 1 more point for you!)

If you do not know what a Pell Grant is, chances are you are not one of us, broke college students! Truth be told, you are not really broke… just for now. When you get home you will be freed from your college poverty…


Must be nice
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*if you could see my face, we would not be friends*