After attending Bulldog Days and committing to Yale, I arrived at Yale in the summer of 2019 as an First-Year Scholars student, participating in Yale’s program for incoming first generation, low-income students. Throughout the summer, I was given many pamphlets about the affordability of a Yale degree, the excellent and free medical care available to me, and the comprehensive mental healthcare I would receive so I could thrive. Then the fall semester started, and all these promises were broken.

Firstly, there were delays in my financial aid. They claimed I was missing a form, even though I had received my first financial aid letter when I was admitted in Dec. 2018 and had no issue in the almost year since. Consequently, I struggled to afford my language textbooks–which cost around $200–and I ended up falling behind in the first few weeks of classes. I grew up in New Haven; I had taken Yale classes before and I had felt confident that I could thrive. But I quickly started feeling nervous about being called on in class. I wasn’t able to submit my homework without the textbook code. I started to wonder why this place was so hostile and whether I could even survive here. When I tried to get support through Yale Mental Health & Counseling, I had to wait an entire semester, and the therapist I was assigned was incredibly insensitive and didn’t take certain symptoms of mine seriously because of my gender.

Then COVID-19 happened. After spending an entire year online, I was excited to return to campus for my junior year. The summer before, however, my orthodontist told me I had six months to get my wisdom teeth out — or I could risk permanent facial paralysis. My family insurance would not cover the procedure, and Yale doesn’t offer dental coverage. I felt stuck with a false choice  — take on debt or go without an essential surgery — that involved a cost that was huge to me, but would be a rounding error for Yale. 

As a student on aid, my family couldn’t pay this $2,000 emergency expense, so I had to pay by racking up credit card debt. This was a massive extra expense that was necessary for me to continue being a student. I had to work more hours to meet the monthly payments and cut back on everything from books to my social life. Once again, Yale’s broken promises meant that I had to focus on working more, while studying and thriving less. This was around the same time I joined Students Unite Now and became part of the fight, initially for bettering financial aid. 

I know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Students of color from working families can thrive on this campus. I am resilient and resourceful, and I still consider myself fortunate. I worked three jobs my junior year, and I was lucky to have understanding professors who could be flexible with me as I had to put extra time into work to pay off medical debt. After another four-month wait, I was paired with an excellent Latino therapist through Yale Mental Health & Counseling who understood me and helped me. If therapy with someone who could relate to my experiences made a difference after four months of waiting, I wonder how much support I missed out on due to long wait times. If I made the most of my Yale education with three jobs on top of classes, I wonder what I missed out on had I had the costs of attendance fully covered like I was promised. 

Students Unite Now held a mid-day rally in front of the Schwarzman Center on Tuesday. Students missed class to show to the Yale administration how Yale’s broken promises on healthcare and financial aid leave us more sick and tired every day. After four years of being let down, I was proud to be part of sending that message: physical and mental healthcare are part of the costs of attending Yale, just like winter clothing, textbooks and travel. Yale can afford to cover these necessities better than we can. The Yale administration needs to listen to our stories and provide the level of financial aid and healthcare it already promises to us, or else it perpetuates an unequal education along lines of race, class and ability.

For students on aid like me, the University needs to provide comprehensive insurance and full financial aid so I can have the care I need to focus on my studies. I graduate next month. While it is too late for Yale to fulfill the promises it made to me at my 2019 Bulldog Days, it is not too late to keep fighting. You can start by filling out SUN’s survey and telling your story.

MARC GONZALEZ ’23 is a senior in Davenport College. They are an organizer in SUN. They can be reached at