Former UC Berkeley student fundraises for tuition through GoFundMe campaign

Photo of Adonis Brooks
Adonis Brooks/Courtesy
Adonis Brooks first enrolled at UC Berkeley in the summer of 2016 before withdrawing from the fall 2018 semester. He decided to take a gap year due to medical reasons and was not able to reenroll due to the $16,611 tuition fee.

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Adonis Brooks, a low-income and first-generation former UC Berkeley student, created a GoFundMe campaign Tuesday to cover his tuition fees in hopes of being able to reenroll by spring 2021.

Brooks first enrolled in the summer of 2016 before withdrawing from the fall 2018 semester. According to Brooks, he decided to take a gap year due to medical reasons and was not able to reenroll due to the $16,611 tuition fee.

“My reason for making the GoFundMe had mostly to do with the feeling that there was no other option,” Brooks said in an email. “I had stressed every realm of possibility.”

After withdrawing from that fall semester, Brooks was notified that he had to pay off the tuition in order to re-enroll. Brooks said in the email that he searched for loans, applied for scholarships and attempted to save money through various jobs.

However, Brooks said in the email that these tasks were “strangely futile” as he was no longer a student. He hopes to return to campus to finish his studies as a comparative literature and film student and complete his thesis.

While at UC Berkeley, Brooks was an active member of the campus community. He was an honors student under the guidance of the Haas Scholars Program and McNair Scholars Program. Brooks was also a member of the Black Student Union and Zawadi: Black LGBTQ Community at Berkeley.

“When I saw Adonis posted the GoFundMe, I wanted to support him because I know how much he has struggled in the past to get back to Cal,” said Sabrina Sellers, a UC Berkeley alumna and former Daily Californian video producer who lived with Brooks in the student cooperatives, in an email. “I hope that this is a successful way for Adonis to get the funds he needs to come back to Cal.”

Haas Scholars Program manager Leah Carroll said in an email that low-income students similar to Brooks who seek readmission after withdrawing from a semester due to unforeseen circumstances need to pay back fees owed before readmission. Caroll added that students in these circumstances are unable to use grants or loans to cover past-due fees.

With a lack of a degree, according to Carroll, it’s unlikely for these students to earn a sufficient amount of money to pay back these fees. As there are a limited number of other options, platforms like GoFundMe “seem to work” and Carroll said in the email that she hopes Brooks’ campaign succeeds.

As of press time, Brooks has raised $5,116 of his $16,611 goal.

“I want to feel normal again, like I’m on the right path, like I didn’t lose an opportunity, and as if I can still shoot for the stars,” Brooks said in the email. “I’ve been overjoyed that I’ve had such a good turn-out with the fundraiser. I hope I can make my goal. I won’t give up.”

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.