So this year, I'm on my own. Where school is concerned, that is. I'm out of funding until I pass my exams (which I should have passed ages ago). So I'm paying my own way this year. Which means I'm dependent on financial aid. Can't pay tuition without a loan. And yesterday--yesterday I got this horrible message form the financial aid office telling me I wasn't eligible for financial aid due to insufficient academic progress. Mind you, this is one day after I put nearly $4,000 in tuition on my credit card, depending on my loan to come through to pay it off.
So I panicked. For about 45 minutes. Just sat on my bed with thoughts of failure and not being able to finish my program whirling through my head. It was miserable.
And then I snapped myself out of it and got to work. Prepped a brief lesson for my classes. Got to school to teach. Let my students out a bit early each hour so I could make phone calls while campus offices were open. I made an appointment with the ombudsman to begin the appeals process. I emailed a faculty mentor to get her advice. I emailed the chair of graduate studies to alert him to the situation and ask if we could meet to discuss it. I called the office that helped me procure a leave of absence last year to see if they could help advocate for me. I did everything I could think of to set an appeal in motion and get my ducks in a row.
Everything except talk to the financial aid office, that is. Because they never answered their phone, there was no voicemail option (even though their phone said there was), and no email option (even though their website said there was). It was very frustrating.
So first thing this morning I went to campus to visit the financial aid office. Where I discovered there had been a clerical error. Their computer had not registered that I was on academic leave last year and so had disqualified me. Three minutes and it was fixed. I should get my financial aid award tomorrow.
And I am proud of myself. A year ago I would have had a massive panic attack had this happened. And then just given up. Six months ago, I would have melted into a puddle of tears. But yesterday I did what needed to be done. Calmly and rationally assessing the situation and finding alternatives. Nary a tear. It felt lovely. It's so good, after years of depression, to feel like myself. To be capable and productive.
So here I go. Back into the breach, prepping for exams which I will take in may or june. And next year I will write two chapters of my dissertation, with a third during the summer, so that fall of 2011 I can go on the job market. And June of 2012 will see me robed to receive my third degree. Just watch and see.