Winners of the The Broke-Ass Student Scholarship Contest
We teamed up with SALT, a nonprofit with free student debt solutions, to find the most broke-ass student in America and try to lighten their load with a $5,000 reward. After searching through many broke-ass students, here is the brokest-ass of all! This brave student has built a mountain of debt, loan by loan, and will spend the bulk of her working life chipping away at that mighty edifice. And she did it all for the honor of a college education, which will allow her to get a fantastic job, so she can pay back the loans she took out to get the education to get the job! What a wonderful system! Anyway, congrats to our winner who will hopefully be able to afford to eat at least one meal that doesn't come from a gas station freezer now.
It was a long, depressing search but we finally found the brokest-ass student. Here are some highlights, or lowlights, of Thelsea's poor existence. Just because the Sam Houston State University Sophomore has two unemployed parents, little financial support, and spends most nights subjecting her body to a helping of SPAM, doesn't mean she's down on her luck. Heck, it was only a couple days ago she was lucky enough to find a loose Cheeto atop an anthill, so it's pretty safe to say that things are finally coming up Thelsea. Sporting a bread tie in her hair and paperclip jewelry around her neck, she maintains a positive outlook even though most nights are spent sleeping on an air mattress with sheets cleaned in the magic mist of Febreze. Congrats, Thelsea, here's to another year of not marrying dad's friend Wayne!
If you've got two unemployed parents, and you're not at least an 8, you should probably just give up, move to a trailer park, and marry dad's friend Wayne. You know, the one with the three-legged pit bull? He may have choked his ex-wife a few times , but he has kind eyes, y'know? Well, instead, I decided to pursue higher education. Great choice compared to the alternatives; however, as the first Harmon in the history of ever to go to college, I don't have much financial support. That is why I need your help, Collegehumor. The following are a few ways I have either saved money, or just in general been poor: I have said sentence "Why has SPAM gotten so expensive?" in earnest at least twice. I have eaten a cheeto off of an anthill. In retrospect, that may have had more to do with my personal demons than with my financial issues... I once used a bread tie as a hair band. When I was on homecoming court, my necklace was made of paperclips. My freshman year, my English teacher asked me why I was even in college if I couldn't afford the books. I defiantly replied that it was so maybe one day my kids would be able to. Also, I told her very dramatically that tearing me down wouldn't bring her up. Also, I made an A in her class. Suck on that, society.
Our first runner-up, Alex, a Senior from the University of Florida, has a story most students can relate to -- shitty clothes, cheap food, and mediocre friends who won't spot him all the time. He once tried to give a used dining hall coupon in lieu of a tip. At the Olive Garden. Now Alex resorts to eating canned tuna without bread and is seriously considering selling bodily fluids for a quick payday. Did we mention he wears decade-old hand-me-down underwear from mom and dad? But don't worry ladies, he can sew. Be sure to watch his informative video submission on how to get the most bang for your buck at McDonalds.
So where did we leave off? Oh yeah, I wasn't selected to be one of your "average" students last semester. Now this can be examined in two ways. (1) My friends and family's way of "You're just too good to be average, Alex." or..... and this was the conclusion that I ultimately chose (2) To stew within my usual, neurotic "glass-is-half-empty" mentality of "You can't even win a contest for 'losers.' " Now, I'm not one to hold grudges, (never mind what my ex-best friend says). I am just a simple guy with simple needs and wants. Like, I really need and want this money... In light of the recent recession, mixed with the fact I can't find a single scholarship rewarding regular white guys on their ability to quote Seinfeld. I've had to become resourceful. The following are some of the ways I try, (regardless of how embarrassing, outrageous, or socially unacceptable) to avoid spending money and "stretch the penny until it screams." Though I'm an only child, our family still utilizes the hand-me-down system. What no longer fits my dad goes to my mom, what no longer fits my mom goes to me. I'm currently wearing faded aqua colored underwear (that's how I'm using them) that used to be my mom's green spandex shorts in the 90's, and my dad's dark green bicycle shorts in the 80's. Thank god we're all roughly the same size; other-wise I might have actually gotten new clothes growing up. BTW no girl likes dating a guy who can boast, "I wear my mother's clothes." I also sew. Not only do I sew, I patch. And not only do I patch, I sew my patches. I also patch my patches and re-sew my previously sewn sewing. I own a pair of jeans that I've repaired so many times; they're now referred by my friends as the "Frankensteiners." Because of their protests, I pulled them from the "lineup", so now, I don't have any jeans. But hey, at least I get to live in Florida, right? My pantry is a nightmare. This morning I tried to make a tuna melt but realized after opening the tin that I ran out of bread. I didn't buy any bread the week before because I was holding out for a good deal that never came. Look at the attached pics to see what I ultimately did. I've turned two ply into one ply.. On more than one occasion. I tip horribly. This one is actually becoming a serious issue. Whenever my friends want to go out to eat, unless it's counter service, I'm usually the one who dips out and says "Not tonight guys gotta study. I just remembered I have an exam tomorrow." I will literally lie to my friends, get out of their car at the next light, walk home to my apartment, and make the same patty melt I would have otherwise had with my friends at the restaurant three blocks away. All this just to save myself a few bucks, the horrible tip, and that awkward glance I would receive from the waitress. But now that I'm committed to the lie, I have to continue the charade and grab a textbook to pretend study in my room when they come home. Now, when I mean horrible tip, I don't mean like 10%; child's play. I once tried to give a used, tattered dining hall coupon in lieu of tip, (Meggen L. from Olive Garden handed it back with a message- this story is a recurring favorite with friends). I once left a Krishna Lunch punch ticket at a steakhouse that still had a good few punches left. I've offered gum; I kid you not... Like from a scene out of Home-Alone 2, I'm sitting there at the booth at 3 am holding out a stick of Juicy Fruit to the puzzled waitress at Waffle House. Now, Macaulay Culkin may have gotten away with this stunt at 8 years old, but I'm 21; I know (or at least should know) better. Luckily the waitress assumed (correctly) that I was drunk and felt bad for me. "Keep the gum, 'Shugah' rain check on that tip." Having taken an economics class, I've learned that I weigh the cost of embarrassment in front of strangers much less than the cost of actually leaving something for them; so I keep doing it. My rationale for all these bad tips? It's a recession and I need the money for necessities, i.e. beer, club cover, and StarKist Chunk Light. So.... Just how poor am I? I haven't resorted to selling my body, but I'm strongly considering selling "fluids." I'll stop there.
Olanrewaju is not your average broke college student. The University of Oklahoma Senior redefines what it means to be frugal. Not only does she reuse cooking oil on fish and chicken, she repurposes tin foil after baking something! She can't even donate blood because the blood bank is too far away and that'd be a waste of gas. However, those habits don't really differentiate one broke college student from the next. To really grasp how broke she is, well, ok, you should read her submitted story. As Olanrewaju put it, you know you're broke when you can't afford the generic yeast infection home treatment. Just… just read her story. We can't do it justice.
I don't even know where to start with my brokeness. So when I moved out of my parent's house the first thing I thought about was finally being independent and making a way for myself. I had a job and a car. Obviously, the world was my oyster. Boy was I wrong, so very very wrong. I got laid off from my job and had enough money to last me a few months, that is until my car and computer both broke down and I had to spend some decent money to get them both fixed. But hey, I'm an optimist, so I tried to see the good in the situation. I couldn't find a job yet (even though I was applying at different places). Then my resources started to run out. Yikes! So I stopped eating out and made my own food. I reused oil to save money. I fried fish one day. Since I have no common sense, or maybe I'm just broke as hell, I fried chicken strips in that same oil. As you might guess, I ended up with disgusting fish tasting chicken strips. Did I eat it? Yes I did! Broke people can't afford to throw away food. Then I began to bake things. I started reusing the same foil and cookie sheets as well. I found that my wallet was allergic to grocery stores. I honestly felt like Walmart was my wallet's kryptonite. After months of eating from food pantries and not being able to afford basic things I turned to ramen. My utilities stated to pile up so I would reuse the water from the ramen cups. Wow, I know this is a lot to take in, but I hope I haven't bored you yet. I'm about to bring out the big water guns! I'm talking straight up 1990's Super Soaker. I don't think you can handle what I'm about to unload all over you. Like when I bird takes a huge crap on a brand new car. Are you ready? I don't think you're ready yet. Ready? Okay, here we go! So me and my broke ass ended up getting a nasty filthy straight up disgusting yeast infection. I don't have any insurance so I decided to go to the local pharmacy and get help. They showed me a yeast infection home treatment for 30 dollars. I clearly couldn't afford that so I thought about buying the generic version. That was 18 dollars. You know you're broke when you can't afford generic. So I got on my laptop (which I had just picked up from the shop) and googled home remedies for yeast infections. I saw that garlic and plain yogurt helped. Don't be fooled by that statement. The remedies didn't involve eating the garlic or yogurt. So this is what happened during the day I would periodically put yogurt on the outside of my va-jay-jay to stop the never-ending burning sensation, and at the end of the night I would put a freshly peeled garlic clove inside as well. How disgusting! I change my mind from what I said earlier. You know you're broke when you have to put yogurt and garlic in my...well you already know. Did I let that keep me down. Hell no! I proudly put that garlic in my vagina! The good news was that I didn't have to eat garlic bread while enjoying spaghetti and meat sauce. There was more than enough garlic taste in my mouth thank you very much. I'm so broke I haven't even thrown away the 50 cent garlic bulb I bought. Like I said, I can't afford to waste any food. I'm actually working on a book called The Dirty Girl's Guide to Women's Health. So that other broke ass college students can help cure their "female pains." I heard guys can get yeast infections too, but I don't think they'd be able to stick a clove up their willy; at least I hope not. So I'm broke. Broke as hell. I couldn't even donate blood because the the blood bank is an hour away and I can't afford to waste gas in case they turn me down. College is expensive. Really, really expensive. Sometimes I want to pass out when I see my bursar bill. And it's not like I'm not trying to help myself. Talking about how broke you are and not doing anything to help yourself is like writing a letter to Santa asking for a Xbox 360 and not giving it to your parents to mail for you. I work three freaking jobs and come home every night worn out and all I want to do is sleep. I apologize if this essay seems disorganized, I actually just got off a shift and feel like sleeping right now. But instead I'm writing to plead with you to bestow upon me this prestigious award. So please CollegeHumor pimp my ride! Wait, did I just say pimp my ride? I mean, help my broke ass pay my bills. I'd appreciate it, I'd even dedicate my next cup of ramen to you!