I think about going back to school a lot now that I have my associate’s degree. Starting year 3 at a university seems so very appealing. Though I don’t mind waiting tables (it’s barely been a week after all), I don’t really want to be a waitress forever. Now that I’m actually working again I’ve remembered that.
I had a recent epiphany. You may laugh, scoff, or roll your eyes, but here it is…
I applied for food stamps and temporary cash assistance two weeks ago. I’ve had to apply for food stamps in the past, so that part was easy. I applied for TCS (welfare) out of panic because I was not doing so well in my job search. It was so easy because you just check the little box on the application. After I got hired I did my DCF interview and I mentioned my new job. She says she’ll send me a employment verification worksheet. I get it, have my boss fill it out, send it in, and I now have everything up to date.
Well the lady also tells me I have to attend an orientation for the cash assistance. I get that letter, follow the directions, and battle the line at DCF to get into orientation yesterday. I wait 30 minutes past the time they claim orientation is to begin. I go in and sit in the back. I raise my hand during orientation several times, sometimes mentioning that I now have a job and the orientation seems somewhat irrelevant.
Basically the orientation was about their job-placement program. You have to complete 35-40 hours per week of some “task.” This can be a job they place you in, one of their education programs, or community service. Well, I have a job, am okay with my education I guess, but I wouldn’t mind getting down on some community service for a little more stability.
Then, literally 5 minutes before the end she tells us that DCF will most likely deny temporary cash assistance benefits to anyone who is employed. Yes. This seems to be very true.
So after I got over my initial shock of having wasted an entire morning, I got angry. And then I wasn’t mad for just my waste of time, I was angry for everyone who has applied for assistance and been denied because they are actually trying their hand at becoming an actual part of society.
I’m not trying to stereotype here. I understand everyone is different and every situation is unique. But my problem is that as soon as someone tries their hand at making an honest living they are cut off from government assistance. There is no middle ground. You can’t have a job and get cash assistance because you make too much money at your part-time waitress job. They would much rather give 5 times as much money to someone who has been through the program 3 times and has no ambitions to change their life. It’s utter bullshit.
So, as my friend Tara suggested, I’m going to go back to school. I’m going to apply for financial aid and do a work study. It’ll be a second job, but the money won’t be taxed. She said I could quit my job at Denny’s, go to school, do a work study, and still get food stamps. If I got the most out of my work study (20 hours per week) I’d make enough for rent and utilities. And groceries are covered by food stamps. Plus I’ll be going to school.
And worse case scenario I could continue to work part-time at Denny’s.
I have a friend, Halley (remember the artist?), who did work study all throughout her education. That is how she paid her bills. She went to school and she was the curator at the college’s art gallery. She liked it because it was easy and she could do her homework when it was slow. Her work schedule worked around her classes, and it was pretty much stress free.
I’m not trying to scam the system or anything, but it would be damn nice to be able to continue my education and pay my bills. Doesn’t hurt to try it though, right?
Thoughts and suggestions welcome!