Metro Weekly

Georgetown gives free tuition to gay teen rejected by his parents

Seth Owen's teacher raised over $140,000 through GoFundMe, which will now be used to start a scholarship

Seth Owen – Photo: Jane Martin / GoFundMe

Georgetown University has given free tuition to a gay Florida teen who was kicked out of his parents’ house because of his sexuality.

Seth Owen’s story went viral last week after his application to Georgetown was in jeopardy over financial aid contributions. The university had initially calculated his financial aid based on parental contributions, leaving him with a $20,000 shortfall.

However, Owen — raised Southern Baptist — said that after his parents forced him into conversion therapy, he was told to either attend church or leave their house. He opted for the latter.

Unable to pay his tuition — loans would have required his parents to be guarantors — a former teacher and mentor stepped in and started a fundraiser for his fees, eventually raising over $140,000.

Georgetown had allegedly  refused to recalculate his financial aid, despite Owen submitting “letters from mental health professionals, school personnel, mentors, and community organizations,” according to his GoFundMe page.

However, in an update posted to GoFundMe, Owen says that the Office of Student Financial Services “have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality,” with the university reducing his $20,000 shortfall to zero.

“Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0,” he wrote. “With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.”

Calling Georgetown his “dream school,” Owen said that, with his tuition fees covered, he would be using the $140,000 raised to establish a scholarship fund “to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year.”

Owen also thanked those who had contributed to the fundraiser.

“Thank you to all who have donated to the campaign. Your generosity will help me succeed academically this year and in the years to come,” he said, adding that he would “[seek] to pass on the kindness and generosity that I have been shown.”

Read Owen’s full statement below:

Thank you.

Thank you to all of my supporters in Jacksonville and across the globe who have given their time, talents, and financial support to help me make my dream of attending Georgetown University a reality.

Thank you to the staff and professionals at the Georgetown University Office of Student Financial
Services. Over the past several months, the Office of Student Financial Services has worked to address the situation that I faced after I was forced to leave my home, in February. In mid-June of this year, the Office of Student Financial Affairs adjusted my aid package to take into account my circumstances; however, there was still a gap that would need to be filled by private loans. These loans were not a viable option for me, as my parents would not act as the necessary guarantors of the loans. At this point, I thought my dream of attending Georgetown University was over.

Hearing of this situation, my former teacher, Jane Martin, started a Go-Fund-Me campaign. To date, the goals of the campaign have been met many times over.

While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality. Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.

The Office of Student Financial Services was instrumental in helping me enroll in the Georgetown Scholarship Program, whose purpose is to make attendance at Georgetown possible for students in a financial situation similar to my own. This program also includes mentoring and networking opportunities which will help me to assist others in situations similar to the one I found myself in earlier this year.

Georgetown is my dream school because of the limitless opportunities it provides to its students. In particular, my interest in the school was piqued by the prestigious program of study in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. I am honored to be selected to attend Georgetown University and am elated that I am now able to attend Georgetown because of the gracious donations to the GoFundMe campaign and the efforts of the Office of Student Financial Services.

Thank you to all who have donated to the campaign. Your generosity will help me succeed academically this year and in the years to come. At the moment, I am in process of exploring the establishment of a scholarship to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year. I am looking forward to utilizing the resources of Georgetown to help with this effort.

Again, a simple “Thank You” seems to be not enough for all of the support I’ve received from so many. I will be seeking to pass on the kindness and generosity that I have been shown.

Best regards,

Seth Owen

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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