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College Freshman Offended After Orientation Worker Calls Him ‘Low-Income’ And ‘Disadvantaged’

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Words are a beautiful part of life.

But words can hurt.

And we’ve been learning over the last few years just how much.

Looking into the nuances of our deliveries when speaking with others is something we all have to be accustomed to doing.

Words have consequences.

Case in point…

Redditor relivatean wanted to discuss her story for some feedback. So naturally she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“AITA for telling a kid he’s low-income?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I’m (19 F[emale]) a current college freshman, and I’m part of a student committee that reaches out to incoming students to help their transition into the school.”

“For low-income students, defined as kids who will be on 100% financial aid when they come here, we’re supposed to ask if they want to be part of special programs for low-income kids.”

“A lot of programs exist to help them when they arrive.”

“I met with an incoming student (18 M[ale]) whose family income is around $65,000 a year.”

“The cutoff for full financial aid at our school is an income of $70,000.”

“And students with family incomes of up to around $200,000 typically get some percentage of aid.”

“As one of the students on 100% aid, he’s marked as low-income and will be in the most economically disadvantaged 20% of students here.”

“I was supposed to ask if he wants to be considered for special low-income tutoring programs, low-income social organizations, and other programs for disadvantaged kids.”

“Our school offers a lot since low-income kids usually struggle the most with their grades and getting involved when they arrive.”

“The kid became very upset and started saying he’s not low-income or disadvantaged, and his parents have good jobs.”

“He was extremely offended.”

“I wasn’t trained on what to say in such an instance, and it was awkward, so I just had to be like ‘Well, your profile right here says you are…’”

“And he was mad.”

“He was super upset when the meeting ended, which was counterproductive.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole (per se). But she most definitely handled a few things wrong. 

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“Your school couldn’t have named it any better?”

“‘Hey do you wanna sign up for poor kid help? You want government cheese?'” ~ DwightMcRamathorn

“Lol… Seriously though. This will be a lesson for OP, albeit a tough one.”

“I think they should phrase it as ‘extra services that are provided to those on 100% financial assistance in order to possibly help their experience at school be a better one’ or some such phrasing.”

“They way OP put it to that young man was so offensive.”

“I also didn’t care for the implication that kids from poorer households don’t do as well in school.”

“That’s stereotyping at its finest and so fricken’ untrue in my opinion, regardless of what will inevitably be quoted from statistics by someone here in the comments.”

“I came from a very poor household.”

“A daughter of a single mother who was a waitress her whole life and I got straight A’s, graduated with high honors, and did very well for myself without all the ‘extras for poor people.'”

“You get what you work for.”

“I’ve nothing against the extra help available for low income kids because some need that extra assistance, yes.”

“But to make it a simple generalization that kids from poor households don’t do as well in school is a bunch of hooey in my opinion.” ~ OffMyRocker2016

“As someone who was in the field of education offering these programs is actually a good thing.”

“It’s the assuming that that low income = bad grades/automatic disadvantaged where OP really failed here.”

“Being poor doesn’t make someone bad with grades automatically.”

“Aldo being referred to as low income repeatedly is pretty shorty.”

“How we word stuff makes a huge difference.”  ~ noblestromana

“It is your opinion, but the data shows that low-income individuals are, in fact, exponentially more likely to struggle in education.”

“That said, the language associated with these programs needs to be sensitive to the stereotyping, bias, and stigma that low-income people experience.”

“And it certainly sounds like that isn’t being taken into consideration.”

“OP – you’re NTA.”

“You were just doing your job.”

“BUT, I think you should speak with your supervisors/managers about how the language is not sensitive to the people they are trying to serve, and is contributing to disinterest.” ~ theresbeans

“As a poor person respectfully disagree.”

“I have to work to put myself through school, something ‘well off’ folks don’t have to.”

“I’m 100% at a disadvantage because of it.”

“Okay yeah yeah there’s always that one prodigy who worked 3 full time jobs and got a double bachelors in 4 years.”

“But the fact is if you’re spending 30-40 hours a week just trying to afford college you’re at a disadvantage to people who can spend 100% of their time per week on it.”

“I know I’d do much better if I wasn’t working.”

“Many times I’m just exhausted and end up missing a few assignments or just not putting as much effort into them as I could if I wasn’t also working.”

“There’s also the fact that I’m a first generation student (which is also very common among low income families) and yeah, I’d argue I’m def at disadvantage.”

“I mean the name of this extra support at OPs school really rubs salt in the wound.”

“But it’s not wrong that many “poor people” would benefit from extra help.”  ~ BonBonShark

“I agree that this could be worded much better.”

“Just saying, ‘As part of your financial aid package, you can be considered for special programs like tutoring and social clubs. Are you interested?'”

“Let’s them know why they are being considered without being so blunt.”

“However, as someone who went to an elite college on full financial aid.”

“I 100% support these programs and wish they would have existed when I was there.”

“These colleges are designed for kids who went to elite high schools, and kids who did not are left behind.”

“The lowest level class I could take in almost every subject assumed that I had taken the AP class in high school.”

“I submitted an essay draft to my teacher Uni intro English.”

“And he told me I would get an F if I turned it in for the final assignment.”

“I struggled through every single class while my peers talked about how they were easier than high school.”

“It had nothing to do with my intelligence or how hard I worked.”

“I was seeing new material for the first time while almost everyone else got a year-long intro in high school.”

“And it’s not just about the academics.”

“It’s about the culture.”

“Despite the fact that $65K is a normal household income.”

“I would guess that most students at this college do not know anyone whose parents make that little.”

“Most of them come from wealthy areas, where $150-200K is probably a normal income.”

“I made a lot of wealthy friends, but I cannot describe the relief I felt when I met another poor person.”

“And I didn’t have to explain why I could not go out to a fancy dinner or blow $1000 on a ski trip.”

“I think OP is a kind of the AH for not navigating this better, but she was likely set up for failure by both her school and her life experiences.”

“I hope the school finds a better way of offering these services to students on financial aid.”  ~ ginger_ale_17

“OP was like: according to this form right here, which you had nothing to do with, and for which you provided zero input, classifies you as ‘poor.'”

“You could have replaced the word in quotations with anything and it’s still offensive.”


“And my parents could have been lying or provided incomplete information, or there could be an error somewhere.”

“So many missteps in offering free services…” ~ a**kicker1762

“I don’t think having tutoring programs for low-income kids is stereotyping low-income kids as poor in school, just that If they need assistance.”

“They won’t be afford tutoring like kids with wealthier parents could.”

“If statistically at OP’s school low-income students need more help, then it’s good that the school is providing these programs.”

“This situation definitely could’ve been handled more tactfully; the school shouldn’t have delegated this task to a 19-year old student at my Uni.”

“They just handed everyone brochures with a section called ‘education assistance’ for ‘qualifying students.’”

“So there was no need for someone to go around singling out low-income students.”  ~ emi_lgr

“NTA, but they should have given you a better script.”

“Obviously students know when they’re receiving financial aid, so maybe just phrase it ‘as part of your financial aid package you have access to the following benefits…'”

“People like getting benefits. =) “ ~ No_Rope_8115

Well that’s an unfortunate situation.

Hopefully OP has gained some understanding about what happened.

And perhaps her school could straighten out the dialogue for the future.