For about 36 hours, I was banking. Then that alternate reality only existent at FAMU kicked in.
I received a phone call from my parents inquiring about a strange piece of mail with a FAMU letterhead.
“Go ahead and open it,” I said, curious about what the letter could be about.
A gasp came from my mom when she realized the envelope held a check for more than $1,200. A few expletives probably escaped my mouth because, in my two years at FAMU, I’ve never received that life-changing net check everyone always talks about. I’ve come to accept the fact; it’s just not a stipulation in my scholarship.
That’s when the journalist in me kicked in, and I went to financial aid to figure out why I suddenly was receiving a large sum of money. My scholarships had not changed and I had not accepted any loans.
I made it to the front of the financial aid line at 1:30 p.m. I pulled out a copy of my financial aid disbursement and asked where the money was coming from. The financial aid employee told me the money was left over after all my fees were paid.
My issues: a) the numbers on the paper and the numbers on the check didn’t add up and b) why hadn’t I received a net check before now?
45 minutes, 10 face palms, three phone calls and several impatient exchanges later, the employee looked at me wide-eyed and mouthed, “Don’t spend that money. Send it back.”
It was a clerical mistake. No skin off my back; the money was never mine in the first place. The only thought in my mind was how many other students had received grossly incorrect amounts of money in their net checks and thought nothing of it. How many other clerical mistakes have been made that, if no one raised the question and asked, could and probably have cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars?
I could see the kids behind me shaking their heads as they probably thought, “Why did she bring the money back?”
Because I’m not a thief. So the next time a necessary staff position or degree program is cut from FAMU’s budget, I can sleep with a clear conscience knowing the blood is washed off my hands.