Philosophy Paper on Maintaining Financial Aid in all Universities
There is a growing concern that federal, state and institutional financial aid programs have become too complex. As a result, many students do not qualify for financial aid. The financial aid system in the country is no longer serving students, institutions or public policy goals effectively. The rich can afford to pay the expensive tuition fees while the poor, most of whom are minority groups, cannot. “In this country, you are better off being rich and dumb than poor and smart ” (U.S. Department of Education n.p.). The financial aid programs are locking out students from poor families most of whom have the potential. To these poor students, higher education is the only ladder out of poverty. When financial aid makes it hard to achieve an education, they are either left to remain in poverty or take several years to complete their degrees as they have to take on extra jobs. No wonder the country does not have a growing middle class, as there are no people leaving the lower class to join it. The few that survive university end up taking student loans and by the time they graduate they are buried in up to $200,000 student loans. Therefore maintaining financial aid in all universities will ensure that all students who qualify to join universities can access an education.
Evaluate Calculation of Expected Family Contribution
When young people are admitted into their dream university, parents cannot help but be happy. However, this happiness is short lived when the acceptance packet arrives and the cost of paying for university makes your heart sink. One such scenario involves Richard Morais’ daughter being accepted into John Hopkins University. The cost of attending the university amounted to $54,470 per annum whilethe daughter received financial aid amounting to only $6,000 leaving the family with $48,470 to pay (Farington n.p.). The family could not raise that amount of money with their income. The daughter was left with the choice of working her way to university or acquiring student loans. This is case of a family that was too poor for university but too rich for financial aid.
What methods are used to calculate the expected family contribution (EFC)? The EFC takes into account the family’s assets and income before determining the amount of aid a student will receive (Farington n.p.). Dependent students, like teenage freshmen and students whose families earn low incomes, have low EFCs and should therefore receive a lot of aid. The federal government does not give aid to the student directly but it goes via the university. The latter uses the amount of aid it is giving to the student, plus the state aid the student is receiving, to calculate the amount of financial aid a student should receive. This all sounds so simple and geared towards giving the highest financial aid to the neediest students. However this is not always the case as university students from poor families end up receiving little financial aid, which effectively is of no help at all.
Therefore 3 things should follow: the EFC calculation should be done and evaluated by federal, state and institutional financial aid programs to prevent locking out students from poor families. There should be transparency in such calculations so that students and their families know what to do in order to lower their EFC. The US government should increase the momentum in changing policies used in the financial aid programs. The above will ensure that students from poor families receive the most aid possible and so are able to complete their education without dropping out.
Remove Academic Bottlenecks
On securing the little financial aid available, students have to ensure satisfactory academic progress in order to continue receiving financial aid. Financial aid programs use the recipients’ GPA and the number of years the student is expected to be in university before they complete their degree. To satisfy SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) requirements recipients must ensure they achieve the minimum required grade point average, desist from calling off school semesters more than twice, and earn extra credit hours.
As a result, they stop receiving the aid and have to drop out mid course or take on loans to continue with their education. On the other hand taking on a part time job takes away some of the student’s quality of education, while loans leave the student indebted for life.
Financial aid ensures that student persistence continues during their university life. The financial aid providers argue that the financial aid program’s requirements are aimed at ensuring students score high grades in school. I had mentioned above how the financial aid system in the country is no longer serving students, institutions or public policy goals effectively. There are however those arguing in its support saying that financial aid requirements motivate students to work hard at school in order to retain their financial aid.
Financial Aid Motivates Academic Performance
There have been arguments for financial aid requirements. According to some individuals, expecting certain academic requirements from students ensures that the students in question perform effectively so as not to lose their financial aid. According to this argument, financial aid is not geared towards removing recipients but towards motivating students to excel academically and achieve their goals. Students have been known to put in extra hours in a bid to score a high GPA that will ensure they retain their financial aid. Students who receive financial aid are less likely to take time off school. They follow their academic calendar to the letter as any diversion might mean losing financial aid. This is considered a good thing by some as it means the students remain focused on their school work and the completion of their degree.
Motivation of Overall University Performance
When students perform optimally, the results reflect on the university’s performance record. Most school boards of governors use financial aid requirements to motivate students to work hard. It is noteworthy that most of the students that dependent on financial aid are either dependent teenagers or students who come from poor families that cannot afford to pay the fees. With the knowledge that financial aid is their only ticket to a good life, these students tend to work hard and in turn raise the university’s performance record.
Why is the Opposing Thesis Wrong?
Financial aid does not motivate performance, it creates result oriented students. While being result oriented is not a problem, being goal oriented is better. Recipients of financial aid do not have room for flexibility while pursuing their education. Rich children can change their majors with no trouble but financial aid recipients do not have the same luxury as changing the course could result in losing financial aid. Changing one’s major requires one to fill papers and meet deadlines. Sometimes, time elapses in the process and one has to start the new major in the next semester. As mentioned above, taking time off is reason enough to be disqualified for financial aid. Those who change their majors risk losing financial aid while those who continue with majors they do not want, end up losing the same financial aid they were fighting to keep because of bad grades.
Maintaining financial aid in all universities will enable all qualifying students to receive the education that they need. Financial aid is important to the well being of students, institutions and the country at large. Our country loses an important person every time a poor student cannot enroll for higher education simply because they could not access financial aid. America would not have had the chance to elect a black president if Obama had not gone to university – history would not have been made. Therefore, financial aid programs need to be assessed and their policies re-evaluated to ensure recipients continue to receive the financial aid they need in all universities. Calculations of EFC should be geared towards ensuring that students who come from low income families and from families with many children receive the total aid as opposed to 1/8th of the expected fee. SAPs should be made realistic and leave room for flexibility. Students will no longer have to work odd jobs and take longer to complete their education nor take hefty loans. In making aid more accessible, financial aid programs will be fulfilling their goal of promoting higher education in the country. At present, it is doing the exact opposite.
Archibald, Robert B. Redesigning the Financial Aid System: Why Colleges and Universities Should Switch Roles with the Federal Government. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
Farington, Robert. Too Poor for College, too Rich for Financial Aid. Forbes, 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/robertfarrington/2014/06/17/too-poor-for-college-too-rich- for-financial-aid/#78b7fc5f6922 Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.
U.S. Department of Education. (,“Secretary Spellings’ Prepared Remarks at the National Press Club: An Action Plan for Higher Education. Sep. 2006,www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2006/09/09262006.html