I recently graduated with my AA and transferred to a Saint Leo University Education Center on the campus of my two year college. While at my two year institution I was granted the honor of being invited to my schools Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter. PTK is an International Honor Society for two year colleges. To be invited to PTK you must have a 3.5 GPA and 12 college level credits; after paying your membership fees and joining members are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing and a member.
Many schools including Saint Leo advertise their PTK Transfer scholarship in an effort to gain members to their schools. These students have proven that they are serious students and often take a leadership role on their campuses. The only known requirements I was aware of for Saint Leo was that you graduated with a 3.5 GPA and transferred to their school. I not only graduated with a 3.52 GPA but as the president of my school’s chapter.
When I did my registration and they showed me my financial aid package, I was shocked to see that I was given no transfer or academic scholarships. I inquired as to what was going on and was informed we don’t offer scholarships at the Education Centers but you can call the financial aid office and discuss it with them. It took me two days with two separate people saying that didn’t sound right, to find out that it was the school’s policy not to give scholarships to students at the Education Centers because our tuition was already lower than that on the Main Campus in Tampa Florida.
My aid package was only $3850 (Pell Grant and Florida Residence Access Grand) and the tuition just for the classes themselves was $2868. I was given a book voucher for $450 of which I used almost all of in books before receiving my syllabuses which one noted we needed a special kit for the class which was going to be nearly $100 by the time you paid shipping. What was more the site we were required to get this kit from didn’t accept our vouchers anyway. Luckily I was able to borrow money to get the kit I needed for my class. I took a loan of $3500 to be able to ensure I had a working computer and cover my books because a majority of the works I’m doing at this Center is online work. When I do manage to have a class in seat I drive almost an hour one way to attend and sit in class for at least three hours before driving the same to return home.
I’m in a situation where I can’t relocate to the Main Campus but I’m being told I’m not deserving of scholarships because my tuition is lower than the Main Campus. If a student on Campus has their laptop die, they might have to walk across campus to use the computer lab. If my three year old laptop dies, I have to drive forty-five minutes to the campus the Education Center is on to hopefully make it before their computer lab closes. Students on Campus have a roof over their head, food on the table and their electric and energy bills paid for. Then I start trying to figure out when my aid check for what little I was getting back was going to be cut and it looks like the $3500 loan I was counting on to get a new computer and pay some bills will end up being a little over $1000 split in half.
Saint Leo prides themselves on the fact that they provide education to our military personal and some of their centers are on armed forces bases. They have 20 centers in Florida where I am, 6 in Virginia, 4 in Georgia, 2 in South Carolina and 1 in each California, Texas and Mississippi. They are putting more students through these Education Centers then the main campus. It’s past time that this policy be removed and nontraditional students be given the same rights and advantages as traditional students.