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This Gay Valedictorian Received $50K from Donors to Pay for College After His Parents Kicked Him Out

Paying for college is probably one of the top worries that so many college students have—we bemoan our tiny financial aid package, we take on part-time jobs, we resign ourselves to paying off student loans until we’re well into middle age. Especially at private schools, where the price tag can go up to a hefty $50,000 a year or more, worrying about college finances can be a huge burden. This is—or rather, was—especially true for Seth Owen, a recent Florida high school graduate.

NBC News reports that Owen had been accepted to Georgetown University, and was planning to attend when he got his financial aid statement. Owen had originally been depending on help from his parents to pay for college, but cut ties with them in February after they rejected him because of his sexuality. Owen made the decision to leave after being subjected to months of Christian gay conversion therapy.

“They made it clear their intention was to make me straight,” Owen said.

Despite his parents kicking him out, his financial aid package from Georgetown was still based on expected family contribution, with a fall tuition price of $20,000.

“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” Owen told NBC News. “Georgetown was my only option, because I had already denied my other acceptances.”

“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” Owen told NBC News. “Georgetown was my only option, because I had already denied my other acceptances.”

But this isn’t a sad story—in fact, it’s a reminder of the hope and help that the community around us can provide, especially for queer teenagers. Owen’s former biology teacher, Jane Martin, who is also gay, decided to take matters into her own hands and help Owen achieve his dream of attending college.

“We know that he’s not the type of person to always say, ‘I need help,’” Martin said. “He tries to be very solution-oriented and deal with things on his own. We just got to the point where we came together and said, ‘This is something where we need to take the lead, and make sure that he gets what he needs.”

Martin’s way to get Owen what he needed turned out to be a GoFundMe page, where she attempted to raise the $20,000 he would need for his first semester. The result blew everyone away: over 750 donations were made to Owen’s cause, and over $50,000 was raised in total.

Martin was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the support. “He has had so much support and so many people reach out and say ‘You’re not alone,’ and ‘It gets better,’ all of the things that we all need to hear when we’re queer teenagers and are suffering,” she said.

Owen was also grateful for the support, making a short video to say thanks.

His financial aid package from Georgetown was eventually amended, as NewNowNext reports—he got a full ride! He plans to use the money raised on GoFundMe to start a scholarship fund to support other queer teenagers in unsafe home situations.

In the meantime, he’s preparing to start his freshman year at Georgetown. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s going to do great, and though his parents’ refusal to accept him and love him unconditionally is heartbreaking, it’s comforting to know that his community will continue to look out for him.

Erica Kam is the Life Editor at Her Campus. She oversees the life, career, and news verticals on the site, including academics, experience, high school, money, work, and Her20s coverage. Over her six years at Her Campus, Erica has served in various editorial roles on the national team, including as the previous Culture Editor and as an editorial intern. She has also interned at Bustle Digital Group, where she covered entertainment news for Bustle and Elite Daily. She graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Barnard College, where she was the senior editor of Columbia and Barnard’s Her Campus chapter and a deputy copy editor for The Columbia Spectator. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her dissecting K-pop music videos for easter eggs and rereading Jane Austen novels. She also loves exploring her home, the best city in the world — and if you think that's not NYC, she's willing to fight you on it.