This piece is part of a series of financial aid-focused student profiles. These student stories are part of our ongoing reporting on financial aid. You can also read our analysis of a student survey about financial aid and our reports on the financial aid Day of Action and subsequent town hall.

Ibukunoluwa Aribilola is an M’22 from Nigeria. Overall, she has had positive experiences with Minerva financial aid. For Aribilola, financial aid packages determined which universities she applied to and even more in her final decision to attend Minerva. Minerva offered her the best financial aid package and the only she could feasibly afford. The other schools that she was considering, primarily U.S. universities, either offered very little aid or no aid at all.

In the three years that Aribilola has applied for financial aid, her package has been increased each year. However, she has not understood if the increase is a result of the increased cost of attendance or something specific to her package. Every year, Aribilola has struggled to understand the specifics of her family contribution and to even find her financial aid offer.

When applying for aid, Aribilola always tried to be as transparent as possible. Whether in reporting expected family expenses or ongoing expenses, she has been upfront about what financial contributions her family can make — and Minerva has met her needs. Due to the different tax schedules of Nigeria and the US, she has occasionally had a difficult time getting the correct documentation, but the financial aid team has worked with her on this. Although the process is long and replies from the financial aid team are not always timely, Aribilola says she has never experienced incredible difficulty with the process. Her financial aid package has not suffered due to the lags in communication.

Like many students, Aribilola was surprised by the Fall 2019 Scholarship Tax bill. For her, this raised concerns as to whether or not Minerva considered this tax when planning financial aid packages. She considered this surprise bill as another case of poor communication around the specifics of family contribution payments. Aribilola has found this lack of clear communication difficult and has had to use student-created resources to fully understand her family’s contribution.

As for the Day of Action in April, Aribilola signed the petition but did not cover her screen or face. To her, the protest came very suddenly. Wanting to ensure that her aid would not be affected or changed, Aribilola carefully approached the protest and the entire topic.

For Aribilola, the reality of paying for Minerva mostly matched her expectations. With work-study and budgeting, she has been able to pay for all of her own expenses since arriving at Minerva. However, she does not consider her work-study salary to be enough for travel between two cities, a visit home, and living one’s best life. To offset additional costs like flights, Aribilola found a paid summer position and encourages others to do the same. By remaining diligent about saving work-study income and staying conscious about her tuition payments, she has found a way to make her finances work. For Aribilola, financial management is a part of growing up. 

For students applying for aid, Aribilola recommends being transparent and submitting as much documentation as possible. She encourages students to work during the summer to save up and ease the future financial burden. Overall, Minerva financial aid has been helpful for Aribilola and her family.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences with money and financial aid at Minerva with the Quest, please reach out to Emma Stiefel ([email protected]), Erin Paglione ([email protected]) or any Quest editor.