Poverty costs brilliant DC teen Ivy League summer program

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- A brilliant young man from one of D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods finds himself stymied by poverty from a spot in the Ivy League.

Zach Wood has won admission to some of the country's most prestigious summer college programs. But he can't afford to go, and the wealthy private schools are offering very little help.

UPDATE: Viewer foots rest of student's bill for Ivy League program

Wood has struggled for every bit of his academic success. And he's going to one of the country's best liberal arts colleges in the fall. But he just can't believe money would bar him from a half dozen prestigious summer programs where he's earned a spot, at places like Yale, Stanford, and Brown.

His last hope is raising donations at a gofundme.com page he's set up.

"A decade from now, I would like to have an undergraduate degree from Williams College, a double major in political science. I would like to have a degree from Harvard Law School, graduate summa cum laude," says the 18-year-old, who dreams big from a sparsely furnished room, where books tumble from a chest of drawers.

The high school senior woke up early to travel two a half hours a day by bus and Metro every day from his home in Ward 8 to the private Bullis School in Potomac. He is currently finishing up his final high school credits online.

He's earned a raft of awards: Honors Society. White House Service award. "I just love learning in general."

At first, he was overjoyed when Yale, Stanford, and Brown offered him a place in their special summer programs for scholars. "I was excited, I was thrilled, I was ecstatic. I had a chance to go to some of the best universities in the country."

But Wood's single dad makes far too little to cover the bills for him, his sister,his grandmother and pay an extra $10,000 for summer classes for Zach. "Unfortunately, I cannot hold your place any longer," he reads from an email from Yale. "We have canceled your spot."

"Despite the fact that these institutions have prodigious endowments, they won't give financial aid in my case. And I don't know why," says Wood, who thinks his situation says something about the access low income young people have to quality of higher education in America.

Many of the colleges say they cover the entire costs for needy students starting on their undergraduate degrees in the fall. But aid for low income students attending summer programs is far more limited.

"I was just so excited to engage in the intellectual atmosphere and cultural ambiance. But unfortunately, just because of money, I'm unable to do that."

Wood still dreams he can somehow raise enough money to enroll in one of these Ivy League academic programs.

He also takes to heart that in the fall, he'll be headed to one of the country's highest rated liberal arts colleges with a nearly full ride scholarship.


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