As a waiter and working musician, Tyler R. Vunk was no stranger to making ends meet. Powered by travel, odd jobs, and restlessness, his twenties had kept him living paycheck to paycheck. But, shortly after the 2008 recession, Tyler, at thirty-three, struggled with the idea of spending another decade refilling ketchup bottles and playing guilty pleasure tunes to unruly tourists. Attempting to reinvent himself, he decided to return to college full-time.
Like many students, Tyler soon discovered that the greatest obstacle he faced was not getting accepted into an undergraduate program, but instead figuring out how to pay for his tuition and living expenses. Having earned a B.A. in music from Wheaton College (Norton, MA), he was ineligible for state and federal funding. Most of the scholarship opportunities people told him about were for either high school seniors or students under the age of twenty-five.