This story was supposed to be born of joy and gratitude, and in anticipation of both it was already mostly written, in my mind at least. But the first feeling, joy, has been suddenly replaced by acute disappointment, with anxiety and occasional dread thrown in for good measure.

For I just received news that the youngest of my four children, all daughters, won’t be getting much financial aid from my alma mater, one shared by my wife and my three older daughters: UNC Chapel Hill. For the first time, my wife and I will have to foot the bill for almost the full cost of attendance. Though the aid package we’ve been sent is just preliminary, the final package will probably be the same.

Duncan Shaw lives in Hillsborough and has worked at Alamance Community College for 15 years.