FAFSA Put A Latina On Notice After She Posted Her Lavish Prom Video That People Read Too Much Into
In late March, 17-year-old high school student Lizbeth Rivas opted to have a video taken of her prom experience, instead of traditional photos. In the prom video, Rivas appears to be living the high life. She dances to the song “Clout” by Offset and Cardi B, models her expensive-looking white prom dress, and flashes a luxury Mercedes-Benz with her crew of friends. To any of her followers, it looked like Rivas was living a life of privilege.
Rivas’s video went viral, prompting comments that mentioned the disparity between her lifestyle and those who can’t afford the same prom experience.
One Tweet in particular took off: Twitter user @_Ferrrg responded to the video with a meme that alluded to FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid organization) watching the video and keeping note of Rivas’s extravagant lifestyle.
Although the official FAFSA account was never tagged, FAFSA itself responded through Twitter with a meme of a little boy side-eyeing and sipping a cup of tea. Translated to internet speak?: “We’re watching you“.
Most found the interaction hilarious and it wasn’t long before the response from FASFA went viral.
FASFA’s tweet received over 13K retweets and 48K likes. Though many users found the interaction funny, some expressed concern Rivas would have trouble with financial aid.
According to Rivas she is just an average student struggling to make ends meet like anyone else.
Rivas revealed that the videographer of the high-quality video wasn’t an expensive professional they hired, but a talented friend-of-a-friend. “We wanted to do something different and memorable to us,” Rivas explained to mitú. “I honestly did not think it was going to blow up like how it did on Twitter nor was I looking for attention.”
Rivas went on to state that she paid for her luxurious-looking prom from money she earned at her job at the mall. “People started speculating that my parents paid all this money,” Rivas said. “When in reality, I have a whole job that I was saving up checks since December”.
According to Rivas, people on Twitter have made wrong assumptions about her financial situation.
FAFSA’s response prompted Rivas’s initial Tweet to go even more viral, putting Rivas in fear of receiving the financial aid she sorely needs.
“How [FAFSA] responded made me upset because that just fueled more people and their misconstrued opinions,” Rivas said. According to Rivas, her parents are neither in the financial situation to give her an expensive prom experience nor in the situation to pay out-of-pocket for her college tuition.
Rivas worries now that the viral video and its response could damage her access to financial aid for college, as well as her dreams of going to art school.
Rivas revealed that due to her financial situation, she’s looking at public universities for a college education. “I wanted to go to art school but it’s really expensive so I’m just looking at public universities,” Rivas says.
This ordeal brings up a larger conversation about privilege, the performance of wealth that many participate in (regardless of their financial status) and the crisis younger Americans are currently facing when it comes to paying for higher education.
Hopefully this will be a lesson for everyone not to assume what’s in someone’s bank account based on what they see on that person’s social media–especially when most of what we see on social media rarely represents reality anyway.