Grasping at straws-- will everyone really die of the tackiness if I do this? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-09-2009, 02:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am totally, totally grasping at straws, and I need to ask a sort of etiquette type question.

We are pretty darn poor right now. I have determined that we won't apply for holiday helpers this year as we've received help in the past and I feel strongly like our turn is over. Which is all okay because I'm not worried about the holidays...we believe in keeping it simple anyway...and meanwhile a kind mama has spent the last year sending us clothing so I think we'll somehow or another make it through on the basics. But now I am starting to worry about something that both is and is not basic...

The thing is, I have decided to apply for grad school in January. I have reason to believe I may not have my job as of the new year, or at least not in full-time form. We all got a salary cut this last year, and it's not looking any better. Likely cuts will go deeper this year. I believe I can get funding for school, and school seems the safest place right now...so financially, I think I'm actually making a pretty wise decision.

Anyway, the problem is that the whole application process is adding up and I don't have money for it. I had to scrimp and save to get my GRE study manual and sample tests. Now I need to come up with $150 to pay for the GRE, and I need it in short order to take the test on time (you have to pay when you register). Soon after that I'll need to pay for transcripts (four schools from which I need transcripts multiplied by four schools to which I am applying). And then there are the application fees for all four schools. Of course I am most worried about the $150 for the GRE, since that is what is coming up immediately.

In the past I might have used my professional expense money, since it is part of my salary package and a discretionary fund, but that was cut with the salary cuts this year.

Anyway, I don't have anyone I can ask for help (a loan OR a gift). I am not on good terms with my family. We have been slowly but faithfully (month by month) paying off a very small loan from dw's parents for a car repair with which they volunteered to help us. My dw's siblings help us in so many other (non-monetary) ways that I feel like it would be wrong to ask for help.

Like I said, I am sure I am grasping at straws...and dw would surely die of embarrasment (she told me it was WAY TOO TACKY when I mentioned this to her in passing), but just how bad would it be if I sent out an email to the family and friends to whom we send an email periodically with pictures to update them on our family, and asked if anyone would be willing to sponsor me?

LOL. I am so beyond desperate!

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Old 10-09-2009, 02:28 AM
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Well... I would start by looking for ways to reduce your costs. There is a GRE fee reduction program for low incomes students, whch cuts the fee by half. You can google it. Some grad programs also will waive application fees for low-income applicants - I know UC Berkeley does, anyway.

I think an email like that is tacky, honestly.

 
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Old 10-09-2009, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I won't do the email. I knew I was on a ledge. Just needed some sanity to talk me down.

I am queen of the love for etiquette, so it doesn't take much more than the word "tacky" to scare me away from doing anything.

I tried to go the route of the GRE cost reduction program but they said I would have needed to apply long before I even knew the GRE was a requirement (its a new requirement for just one of the programs, the rest don't require it), as it often takes months. Also, the process was extremely confusing and required certain documents that I had never heard of. Ugh. The schools all state on the applications that the tuition fee must be paid in full and can't be waived, but I will still double-check with the schools.

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Old 10-09-2009, 03:02 AM
 
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You know, if I were really desperate, and it meant the difference to me in terms of affording the GRE and not doing it .... I'd swallow my pride, and go all out tacky. I mean, it's family and friends - what is the worst that can happen? They'll think you're tacky?

Honestly, people ask for sponsors to go on missionary trips. People ask for sponsors for charity walks, marathons, readathons, etc.

If you've eliminated all other options - just ask.

If I received an email like that from a friend, I wouldn't think she was tacky. I'd think the economy sucks, the job market sucks, and everyone is feeling that these days.

Btw, you can try asking on Craig's List too. Or freecycle. My freecycle group lets people ask for food. You could ask for a GRE fee.

I know it's difficult to ask. I have a HUGE problem asking people. I mean, I have way too much pride for my own good. My dp used to tell me that I could be homeless and I still wouldn't tell my family and ask for help. He's probably right. But .... sometimes, it's OK to be tacky and ask. Though, for the record, I don't think this is tacky.

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Old 10-09-2009, 08:42 AM
 
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I believe I can get funding for school
Not to be a downer, but this may not be as easy as you envision, or you may get partial funding and be expected to cover the rest. If I was truly struggling financially, I probably wouldn't be considering graduate school. Especially if I were having trouble coming up with GRE application fees. Graduate school loans are many people's main source of debt.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:13 AM
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Anyway, I don't have anyone I can ask for help (a loan OR a gift). I am not on good terms with my family. We have been slowly but faithfully (month by month) paying off a very small loan from dw's parents for a car repair with which they volunteered to help us. My dw's siblings help us in so many other (non-monetary) ways that I feel like it would be wrong to ask for help.

...

just how bad would it be if I sent out an email to the family and friends ... and asked if anyone would be willing to sponsor me?
Whoa, way way tacky. If you're going to ask for money, do it in person, to people you are close to (like parents) - not an email list of second cousins.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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yeah, I agree with the others - way to tacky to even consider, really.

What sort of grad program are you looking at doing? Is it one in which you'll definitely be able to get a better paying job at the end of? I'd be very, very hesitant to take on more debt for something that wasn't a "sure thing" and honestly, not being able to swing the application fees is a big red flag to me that you won't be able to afford the program. What if you don't get 100% funding - books and other incidentals are mind-boggling-ly expensive!
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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Before you drop any money on GRE feees, etc, I would do more research on what kind of funding you might get.

For example, in egnineering, I got full tuition + ~24K living stipend. For ag, my sis got full tuition + 21K living but has to pay ~2K of fees (which is a lot on a 21K income!). For english, philosophy, etc.... you probably aren't going to get a cent unless you get a federal grant which it doesn't sound like you are applying for.

I think if my finanaces were that tight, I would get a 2nd job before I went back to school. After all, as a grad student you will be working 50-60 hours a week anyway!

In terms of raising the money, if it was just a 150$ one time thing, I would be ok with asking friends/family. But it sounds like you need 150$ now + transcript fees (16 transcripts x 10$ each) + app fees (4 x 50-75$) This could add up high, and why start down the path with the GRE if you don't have a plan to pay for the rest of it? I personally wouldn't be ok with asking for the total 600$!

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:44 AM
 
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I agree that you'd probably be better off trying to find some other job, and postponing grad school for another year at least, if paying for the GRE is a problem for you. The thing with graduate school is, even if you get funding, it usually isn't commensurate with the number of hours you have to work.
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Old 10-09-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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What about picking up a menial second job to earn enough for the gre, etc? Like, if you can work, maybe as a temp or babysitting or something on the hours you aren't working for a month or two you can save up? Or would that take too long? i'd look for things to do. It's leaf raking season in my area... maybe post signs that you'd rake leaves for $X/hr or something?

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Old 10-09-2009, 12:44 PM
 
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The good thing about this time of year is all the retail stores will be staffing up for the holidays - could you take on a shift or two a week temporarily to gather the money? Or be a newspaper carrier? Or have a little garage sale?

I would explore these kind of options first, if it were me.

Best of luck to you!

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Old 10-09-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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I was just put into a similar situation with my cousin.

Like other's said, I would exhaust all other opportunities prior to asking anyone for a gift/loan. I would also be willing to tell anyone I was asking why I couldn't get a second job/cut expenses to come up with the money on my own.

While I did give my cousin the money (as a loan) I was annoyed after the fact. Cousin could go waiter or bartend to pick up extra cash but he doesn't want to as it interferes with how he thinks he should be living his life. He won't be getting another loan.

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Old 10-09-2009, 01:21 PM
 
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yeah, I agree with the others - way to tacky to even consider, really.

What sort of grad program are you looking at doing? Is it one in which you'll definitely be able to get a better paying job at the end of? I'd be very, very hesitant to take on more debt for something that wasn't a "sure thing" and honestly, not being able to swing the application fees is a big red flag to me that you won't be able to afford the program. What if you don't get 100% funding - books and other incidentals are mind-boggling-ly expensive!
Good advice. I am constantly amazed how many people in the USA seem to have advanced degrees and low paying jobs. Do the research and make sure that it will be worth your while so that you don't end up still in a crappy job but with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
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Old 10-09-2009, 01:30 PM
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Before you drop any money on GRE feees, etc, I would do more research on what kind of funding you might get.

For example, in egnineering, I got full tuition + ~24K living stipend. For ag, my sis got full tuition + 21K living but has to pay ~2K of fees (which is a lot on a 21K income!). For english, philosophy, etc.... you probably aren't going to get a cent unless you get a federal grant which it doesn't sound like you are applying for.
I think this might be a question to ask in Working and Student Parents, or else check the websites of the schools you're applying... I'm fully funded by my university for 6 years in cultural anthropology (tuition + stipend I can live on in my very low COL area). I had other offers that also included generous funding.

 
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Old 10-09-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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Not to be a downer, but this may not be as easy as you envision, or you may get partial funding and be expected to cover the rest. If I was truly struggling financially, I probably wouldn't be considering graduate school. Especially if I were having trouble coming up with GRE application fees. Graduate school loans are many people's main source of debt.
Yeah that! Something really important to consider is if this is the best time to go to grad school. If things are that difficult financially, it would most likely be better to put it off for a year or two, take a second job, and build up some savings. You don't want a dire financial situation to distract you from school.

Also, it is important to consider school loans and the debt that accumulates from them. I borrowed 45k for undergraduate and graduate combined. I didn't think of the reality of it before taking them out, that I'd have to pay the money back someday I'm paying $250 a month and they'll be paid off in about 20 years, less when I start paying more per month.

Good luck with whatever you decide

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Old 10-09-2009, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the responses. Interesting responses. First of all, I am working a very demanding (albeit low-paying) job that ranges 40-60+ hours per week and I am already still doing as many side jobs as I can get. dw was unemployed for a long stretch but is now employed again, fortunately doing childcare which means we aren't paying for childcare for our own kids. We are fitting in as many opportunities for extra income as we can. I think it is interesting that folks assume that if you are doing poorly financially, that somehow it means you aren't working enough. Hurtful really.

We have also cut all that we can out of our budget. It's not like we just aren't making wise choices. We don't have credit cards, we don't have car loans, we *never* eat out, we cook everything from absolute scratch (no canned beans or pre-made tortillas, for example), we use the absolute minimum level of heat in the winter and never use A/C in the summer, we use a modified electricity schedule at home, etc. etc. The list goes on. Our situation does involve one poor choice (purchasing our home after a move that ended up being extraordinarily expensive for reasons beyond our control), but equally so involves significant medical debt (which we aquired while also having health insurance...hence why I am all for massive health care reform).

I'm not going to go into details on my personal finances. I don't feel like I posted asking for advice on that.

I've already admitted my idea was tacky. I posted late at night in a moment of pure desperation and hands-wringing. I was quick to realize how stupid the whole thing sounded, and I posted that.

As for whether I should put off applying for school, it is relevant that I have already waited for this for a notable number of years, putting it off largely because of financial reasons. I determined early on it wasn't worth it to take on student loans, at least not significant student loans, for this. My earning potential will be greater, but not by that much. Aside from my mortgage and medical debt, I am debt free and feel strongly about keeping it that way. Actually, if I could sell my house now without losing money, I probably would.

Anyway, the reason I decided to apply for school is because I heard from *two* very reliable sources that there was a good amount of funding being offerred at this time in my program of interest. I've since talked to a number of folks who are getting full tuition assistance and a living expenses stipend, and I think with my academic history, I am as good a candidate as any for such an offer. If I don't get an offer for funding, I probably won't go, but right now I might as well try.

I've been living under the illusion for a few years now that with time, things will get better for me financially. It seems like just when I've figured out how to come up for air, another wave washes over me. I'm not going to live like that illusion is reality anymore. I need to stop putting my dreams on hold for the "someday" when money isn't an issue. For all I know, if I wait another year to apply, school endowment values will further drop and funding offers will be lowered. The economy is still a mixed bag. I don't understand the point of waiting when I am looking at a possible job loss in January anyway. Though my job is currently not a particularly high paying one, as I don't have a masters, I'm not going to suddenly find something equal or better (especially not in this economy) when I lose that job or my position is cut in half. I might find another job, but it isn't likely going to make up for my full loss of income. If that's the case, why not have the shot at a stipend, which also might not make up for the full cost of living but is something I actually *want* to be doing?

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Old 10-09-2009, 03:34 PM
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OK it is probably a little tacky but a friend (on facebook no less) recently asked for people to sponsor her on her mission trip to Kenya. I don't believe in mission trips and I'm an atheist so I didn't donate but I did send her an email wishing her luck. I don't think any less of her either. I'd be much more likely to sponsor someone's GRE endeavor.

Why not do a little fundraising for your own future?

GL
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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I don't think it's a terribly tacky idea, overall. I would probably contact people in person (or at least over the phone) rather than by e-mail. Especially with the holidays coming up, I would speak to anybody who normally sends a gift and ask for this as your single "wish list" item.

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Old 10-09-2009, 06:25 PM
 
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I think it is all a matter of presentation. An email could be tacky or it could be funny or it could be fundraising or it could be enterprising or any other sort....

From a practical viewpoint, coming up with the GRE fee is just the tip of the iceberg. All those transcripts and app fees add up, too. Not to mention all this education and low-paying jobs, which is really a different topic, so I'll stop there.

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Old 10-09-2009, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I've still decided I won't do it, and I am still not sure how I'll come up with the money, but I really, really appreciate the last few posts that have helped me feel a tad less like the most tacky of all tacky people in the world for the thought running through my head. Thanks .

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Old 10-09-2009, 07:55 PM
 
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I guess I've still decided I won't do it, and I am still not sure how I'll come up with the money, but I really, really appreciate the last few posts that have helped me feel a tad less like the most tacky of all tacky people in the world for the thought running through my head. Thanks .

Tacky or not, you have to do what you have to do for YOUR family.

If it ends up tacky so be it.

If friends and family treat you poorly for it, then they are the ones that have a problem.

Do what you have to do.

And everyone deserves to do something they love. I wish the world had that option!

Resistance is futile Matey
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:13 PM
 
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Tacky or not, you have to do what you have to do for YOUR family.

If it ends up tacky so be it.

If friends and family treat you poorly for it, then they are the ones that have a problem.

Do what you have to do.

And everyone deserves to do something they love. I wish the world had that option!
That, my friend, is exactly how I feel.

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Old 10-09-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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I think it is interesting that folks assume that if you are doing poorly financially, that somehow it means you aren't working enough. Hurtful really.
I don't think anyone was implying that.

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha

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Old 10-09-2009, 08:42 PM
 
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It's less tacky if you ask people in individual phone conversations, rather than in a mass e-mail.
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's less tacky if you ask people in individual phone conversations, rather than in a mass e-mail.
There were some people I thought of asking specifically, but decided not to ask for the reasons noted about these folks in my original post. I think in some ways it would be less tacky to ask an individual person, but then again, I wouldn't have wanted anyone to feel pressure.

We once had a family member ask us for a loan (don't know where he ever got the idea we'd have money to loan him...but I think he was just desperate and had already hit everybody else up LOL), and it was really awkward. I'd personally rather have someone send out an email to me and a whole bunch of other people and ask for sponsors for something they are doing than have that person ask me one-on-one and feel all kinds of pressure about it.

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I don't think anyone was implying that.
I guess the implication seemed implicit in that several responses talked about taking on a second job. I'm probably sensitive, though. I really wish it would be that easy.

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Old 10-09-2009, 09:33 PM
 
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I think people were just brainstorming, WRT the second job.

However, if it's all right to say this, I saw on another thread that it's divinity school you're applying to. So I take it you belong to the same religion that you'd be going to divinity school for. Have you asked the pastor of your congregation for funding suggestions for your GRE? There may be some kind of slush fund somewhere, it's worth asking.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:41 PM
 
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I don't know the field of study you're going for, but if you've already been accepted to a particular universisty would there be the chance that some assistance or support is offered through the department you'll be studying with? Is there a chance that there is a professional organization related to your field that you might find some help from? Do you have a mentor who might offer some suggestions? I doubt in this economy that you're alone in finding the fees a stretch.

And, I'll also caution about how expensive grad school is, even w/loans. Hopefully your field of study will allow a better paying job afterwards.
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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lolar2, I actually already work in a vocational ministry, so I don't have a minister of "my own" per se. I do know the church I serve doesn't have a slush fund I could use for this. I've told the few key people at church who need to know at this stage, but I am going to wait until I know exactly what the implications are and what next year's budget situation looks like before I share this in a broad sense, which would be required for me to ask for money.

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Old 10-10-2009, 12:45 AM
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I have reason to believe I may not have my job as of the new year, or at least not in full-time form. We all got a salary cut this last year, and it's not looking any better. Likely cuts will go deeper this year.
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lolar2, I actually already work in a vocational ministry, so I don't have a minister of "my own" per se. I do know the church I serve doesn't have a slush fund I could use for this. I've told the few key people at church who need to know at this stage, but I am going to wait until I know exactly what the implications are and what next year's budget situation looks like before I share this in a broad sense, which would be required for me to ask for money.
Wait, your ministry is the job you're about to lose? Are you really sure they would rehire you with a degree? Or are just hoping that their budget would be better in a few years and they could hire you back?

I'm struggling with the idea that you could repay your grad-school loans on a minister's salary. AFAIK they aren't paid well.
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Old 10-10-2009, 01:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wait, your ministry is the job you're about to lose? Are you really sure they would rehire you with a degree? Or are just hoping that their budget would be better in a few years and they could hire you back?
It doesn't work like that. I wouldn't be serving the same church most likely . After completing my internship, I'd be looking at settlements all over the country. I'd also be serving higher up in the "food chain" LOL (I am getting this degree as a part of working toward ordination, and ordained ministers are simply higher up in the life of the church), though a "food chain" is sort of a weird way to think about it.

Also, I really don't know what the job situation will be like in January. We're looking at cuts, and there is no way to know at this point how those will play out. I suspect my position may be cut, but if so the "how much" question will not be answered for some time.

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I'm struggling with the idea that you could repay your grad-school loans on a minister's salary. AFAIK they aren't paid well.
As I said earlier, I won't be going to school if I am not offered enough funding to largely avoid student loans. I am applying now because of the funding being a more common offer at this point than it was even five years ago.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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