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From the comments:

> Being poor is discovering that that letter from Duke University, naming you as one of three advanced students in your class invited to test out of HS early into their scholarship program, is just so much firestarter because the $300 it costs to take the test may as well be $3 million.

Despair is finally realizing, at nearly 36 and with a barely-afforded AA in English from a community college, just where you could have been by now had you had $300, and what that missed opportunity has truly cost you.

Don't you think Duke University has financial aid programs in place exactly for this scenario? I realize the poster might not have known this at the time, but I would be willing to bet that if they called the admissions office and explained their financial situation they would be able to waive the test fee.

Usually they don't and/or if they do you have no guarantee of qualifying for it. At one point in my life I made about $12k a year working two full-time jobs, believe it or not, even though a meal at a "sit-down restaurant" was a once a year extravagance, I didn't qualify for many financial aid programs when I went to school. And student loan programs said I didn't have the guaranteed financial means to pay the loans back.

I've personally been on the begging end of paying for tests and the calculus is this, "how many meals do I have to skip to pay for this?"

I think that's another side effect of poverty: not seeing ways out. (Although I don't know what kind of programs Duke had decades ago.)

$300 is 15 lawns mowed, or 2k cans collected, or probably one post on your facebook page asking for donations.

"or probably one post on your facebook page asking for donations"

I seriously doubt facebook was around back when this person was in school.

And, how do you mow 15 lawns with no transport, and the people around you are too poor to even have a lawn, let alone have people mow their lawns for them? Hell, where could he even get the lawnmower in the first place?

And, 2000 cans collected is a noble (and green!) act, but there are states where they'll give a big fat nothing for recycling; in fact, the home state of Duke University (NC, USA) doesn't offer money for aluminum like up North, unless you're willing to collect a pound of it and sell it for 20 cents. I guess he could move to another state to get better recycling prices, but then there's moving costs.

Sometimes being poor sucks, and there's NOTHING you can do. Not saying his case was completely hopeless, but it's easy to find solutions when there are zero consequences.

There are scrapyards all over the country. See http://realcent.org/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=71 for example.

$300 is a whole lot of suppers you (and your siblings, parents, and whatever other dependents) won't need to skip.

Being poor is having people who were never poor tell you to do things that simply won't work.

When you work 80-100 hours a week just to keep a roof over your head, and eat at least 2 square meals a day, when exactly should this poor person mow 15 lawns (provided they had a mower and transport to get around) or collect 2000 cans (and again haul all that around)?

Being poor is living where nobody pays for lawn service.

Being poor is living where everyone collects aluminum cans for money.

But you and I know that it isn't the $300 that is preventing her from getting it.

It is the belief that she can't.

You realize that probably most poor people don't have friends that can trivially part with $300, right? Apparently not.

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