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Concord teen starts GoFundMe page for tuition due to cost of higher education

A first-generation, college-bound student says she can't afford a college degree even after being awarded scholarships.

CONCORD, N.C. — A Concord parent has a dream for her daughter that many parents have for their children. 

That's pursuing a college degree.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the cost of higher education is making it out of reach for some.

Aaliyah Shah said she's enjoyed being Mariyah's mom. 

"It blows my mind. She's going to be a first-generation college graduate," she added. "She loves art. She also loves science. So, it's been a journey and I've enjoyed the ride."

However, as a single parent on disability, the parent's pride isn't enough to send her soon-to-be high school graduate to college.

Mariyah Shah has been accepted to three universities so far to study animation.

"What I love is animate, draw some things, make some stories come to life, make some people laugh," she explained. 

Mariyah Shah said the least expensive university is in Florida, which is still costing upwards of $80,000 for a bachelor's degree. 

"The online program is the exact same," she explained. "It's just stretched out over a longer period of time. There is no room and board either way. They don't have housing on campus or meal plan."

With their combined yearly income of $20,000, Mariyah would qualify for need based scholarships. 

"They talk to us about scholarships for needy families, but we would have to apply for loans first," Aaliyah Shah said. "She has a few scholarships, which Full Sail has offered pretty good scholarships, compared to the other schools that she was accepted at. But yeah, I kind of don't want to be paying loans for the rest of my life."

WCNC Charlotte looked into some of North Carolina's higher education costs. According to North Carolina State University's website, half of its undergraduates qualify for need-based aid. The average need is $16,000. 

NC State says they're able to meet almost 80% of that need through scholarships, grants and loans. It offers arts and design but doesn't seem to offer animation as a field of study.

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Mariyah Shah did apply to a couple of state universities including University of North Carolina - Charlotte and is waiting to hear whether she'll be accepted.

In the meantime, she started a GoFundMe page for her tuition.

"I want her to be able to take care of herself, do a career that she loves," Aaliyah Shah said. "That means she'll do it good. I just want her to be successful. I don't want her to have to struggle like I did."

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She said their plan B is to go ahead and apply for loans. She added she has about a month before having to go that route.

But mom and daughter both said they are determined to see Mariyah Shah continue her education.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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