The chuft-chuft-chuft of the wall clock kept time with the ever-tightening knot in Henry’s stomach. His meeting with the admissions officer should have started eleven minutes ago. Instead, he sat outside their office, trying not to fidget with the Windsor knot in his tie. He reached for his magic to calm his nerves, letting it slide through his fingertips like sand.
Rich or poor, no one wants to deliver bad news…
The office door opened. “Mr Wrexford?” She was petite and neatly dressed in a skirt and jacket that matched the blue of the school’s logo. “Please come in,” she said.
She waved Henry to a seat and went to her side of the desk and sat. “I’m sorry for the wait--,”
“You’re telling me no,” said Henry.
She fidgeted with the papers on her desk. “Yes.”
“The university accepted my application months ago,” said Henry. “I don’t understand what the problem is.”
“You were offered a spot at Duke Law School,” she said, shaking her head. “That you were accepted at such a young age is miraculous.” She took a breath. “You are now applying to the paleoanthropology department of Trinity College. This is a very separate institution.”
“So what is it? Are my grades not good enough?”
“No, your grades are excellent and the personal recommendation from Professor Lieberman is a nice touch. What are you hoping to study?”
“I want to know more about when we evolved to use magic. There’s evidence that at one point we didn’t have it, and yet now we do. That line, though, is very fuzzy.”
She nodded. “That’s a significant area to focus on, and I know they would normally accept you without a moment’s hesitation.”
She swallowed. “It’s a payment issue.”
Henry frowned. “I don’t understand. I have a trust fund to pay for college.”
“You do, but your trust manager included a clause in the payment contract that the fund would only pay for your education at the law school. Should you take classes in any department that is not part of the law school curriculum, the trust will not cover them.”
Henry’s face flushed and his hands clamped on the smooth wood armrests of his chair.
...but the rich never deliver it themselves.
She reached for the phone on her desk. “I can call him back. Maybe if you speak with him?”
Henry took a breath and forced his hands to relax. “That won’t be necessary. He’s only doing what my father told him to do.” He swallowed the bile that rose from his stomach. “What about scholarships?”
“It’s a bit late for that,” she said. “And your options for financial aid are limited, given that you have a significant source of funds available to you.”
“Only if I go to law school.” Henry shook his head. “My father badgered me about becoming a lawyer for months. I told him no enough times that we’ve stopped speaking to each other. That’s why he set up the trust fund.” He cocked his head. “You said there’s some financial aid, not zero. Did I hear you right?”
“Yes. There’s a private foundation you can apply to that would support you, given your grades and desired field of study, but it’s not enough to cover your tuition.”
“So I’m screwed.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Family difficulties are stressful, believe me, I know. If there’s no chance of reconciling with your father…?”
Henry snorted. “That ship has sailed.” He frowned. “Would that private foundation cover the cost of a part-time tuition, or maybe a community college? I could get some of my basic courses out of the way while I try to figure this out.”
“Yes,” she said. “But I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“If you really have split from your family, there is a scholarship that you could apply for that would pay for everything. I’m confident they would fully fund you, next year.”
Henry leaned back in his chair. “So I go to community college now, then come to Duke next year. That sounds good to me.”
“That scholarship is for first time college students only. If you even audit a class at a community college they will deny your application. I’ve seen it happen.”
Henry’s eyes narrowed. “So. Law school or nothing.”
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