Thursday, September 22, 2011

Extreme Skint Tips: Gate crash clubs with free food

At the beginning fo the year, especially during Week of Welcome, lots of clubs have their first meetings or socials for new students to meet. If it's a club you're remotely interested in, GO! There is usually free food. In my first term at OSU, I ate so much free pizza that I went off it for six months because I was sick of it. If your'e religious or at least comfortable with religion, groups like Collegiate Christian Fellowship and University Christian Fellowship often have snacks or meals at their gatherings. International Student Association hosts a free coffee hour in their room in the EMU. Bring a mug and meet a bunch of students from all over the word over a cup of joe.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food Stamp Flop: (hopefully) Part 1

Knowing that my financial need for this school year and those to come will far exceed my means, I submitted an application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progam, SNAP, also known as food stamps. Filling out the form was easy. Oregonians can apply online here But when I got to the DHS office, I was in for a big disappointment.

The restrictions on food benefits for students are strict. A student can only receive SNAP benefits if they are:
A full time student working 20 hours or more a week
A single parent with a child under 12
A married parent with a child under 6
Working any hours of work-study

Ah, there it is, my weird student situation rearing its ugly head again. Since I already have a degree in English, I'm ineligible for work-study (and most scholarships). But I'm not a graduate student, so I can't work a graduate teaching position. Therefore, in addition to paying out the wazoo for school, I also can't eat.

The worker at the DHS office was cold. As I failed to hold back tears wondering how in the world I was going to afford to eat, he passed over a list of places that hand out food boxes and told me it wasn't his decision. Them's the rules. I was really counting not having to worry about where I would find my next meal. It took a hit to my pride to admit that I needed government help, and finding out it was all for nothing is depressing. I don't know how any full time student can manage to work 20 hours a week and still get good grades like I want.

I'm not taking the denial lying down. I'm going back with my employment verification and financial aid in hand, and writing my elected officials to explain how unfair this is for independent students without help from their parents. I encourage other students in this situation to do the same.

Meanwhile, I'll have to stop by Kesey Square in downtown Eugene for Food Not Bombs, free food every Friday at 2pm and pull my weight for church dinners at The Gathering Place in Springfield on Sundays at 5:30. This blog may turn into a lot of "eating well on the cheap."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Extreme Skint Tip: Internet Free

Internet can cost $30-$40 per month. Over the course of a year, that could be nearly $500! What skint student has that kind of money? Here's a wild and crazy idea: try living without internet at home. This really only works if you've got a laptop that you can take with you to the campus libraries, the EMU, the Eugene or Springfield Public libraries, a coffeeshop (although if you're really a skint student, what are you doing going out for coffee?), anywhere you can get free wi-fi. It may be a moderate inconvenience, but you're likely to be more productive at home, and if you've got to submit something online late at night, you can always park for a quick second outside one of the public libraries with your laptop. When I first started experimenting without home internet, I would park at the public library parking lot and put in two quarters, enough for 40 minutes. I found that I could pretty quickly get my stuff done if I opened up my email, facebook, and all the blogs I followed in tabs, read them one by one, then when my time was up, I left and didn't waste time on the internet the rest of the day.

Extra tip: Keep a little notebook in your laptop case for stuff to Google later.