Charlcie . Knoxville, Tennessee

Not Enough to Thrive


Charlcie was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She lived with her mother, Theodora Etter, who had a passion for cooking and spent her career as a chef. In 2008, when Charlcie was only 14 years old, her mother tragically passed away from breast cancer. Charlcie went to live with her father. She received Survivor Benefits of $1,310 per month, which helped her father to care for her through her high school years. Since her father was a low-wage worker, these benefits were essential for taking care of Charlcie and making sure her needs were met.

Charlcie was a solid high school student. In her senior year, she applied and was accepted to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she planned to major in pre-law. Unfortunately, when Charlcie graduated from high school in 2012, her Survivor Benefits ended. Although Charlcie was paying in-state tuition, had financial aid, and received some scholarships, it was not enough to cover all of the costs associated with college (the University of Tennessee estimates that the total cost of attendance per year for an in-state student is over $25,000).

Charlcie was determined to go to college, and she attended for one year, but was unable to afford to continue. She is back at home this semester working for a security company on the night shift. She is determined to save enough money to return to school next semester. If Charlcie’s survivor benefits had continued while she attended college, she would still be enrolled in the University of Tennessee today, pursuing the education needed for her chosen career.