i College isn’t just for the rich | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Collin Zovnic

Low-income students need financial aid to keep them in college or they will drop-out, and be left with debt. Many students go into bankruptcy because they can’t afford to pay off their tuition fees. This seems to be a problem exclusively for the poor, as the colleges and universities, seem to not care at all about their situation. Exploiting poorer students for financial gain, such as for profit universities, doesn’t make their financial situation any better either. Despite this richer and more wealthier students are given even more financial than their poorer counterparts. To our low-income graduates and students from going broke, we need to support them in and out of college, so they don’t carry around as much debt.

At SNC our focus on “communio” makes our school more diverse. Diversity is important in universities, it helps open up new ideas to students. In “Diversity Makes you Brighter,” students benefitted from having a more diverse group. “Diversity prompts better, critical thinking. It contributes to error detection. It keeps us from drifting toward miscalculation.” This is because when are with people of the same group like “ourselves” we tend to just go along with the ideas that are presented instead of challenging what the popular idea is. Being with a diverse group promotes searching for newer, less mainstream ideas, which allows us to spot the ideas that are accepted, but wrong, in a group of similar people. I believe that SNC provides a diverse setting in which people can express themselves, and differing ideas openly.

Nowadays colleges hand out financial aid based on “merit,” not the financial need of the students. In the article “How colleges are selling out the poor,” Jordan Weissman points out that colleges believe it to be more profitable to give out aid to wealthier students, than students who can barely afford to be there: “It’s more profitable for schools to provide four scholarships of $5,000 each to induce affluent students who will be able to pay the balance than it is to provide a single $20,000 grant to one low-income student.” Many colleges will give more aid to wealthier students because they know that the wealthier the student the better chance they can actually pay the college back. This is terrible because colleges just pick students based on how big their bank accounts are. There will be students coming onto campus with lower grades than their peer. According to a study from the department of education, “19 percent of undergrads at four-year colleges received merit aid despite scoring under 700 on the SAT.” This is what happens when universities pick students based on their parent’s bank accounts, instead of academic performance.

That doesn’t mean, however, that all colleges are like this, schools such as SNC have several programs that hand out aid to students with financial need. The “Federal Pell Grant,” and “St. Norbert College Grant,” supply students in need of finacial aid. Schools like SNC give out student aid to those who actually need it, however, not all schools are like SNC. For profit colleges like the University of Phoenix and ITT, produce the most student debt in the country. In the article “Student Loan Defaults Surge to Highest Level in nearly 2 Decades,” for profit colleges take up more federal dollars than the average university, yet have the highest number of student defaults in the country. “For-profit institutions educate only about 13 percent of students, yet takes in nearly a quarter of federal loan and grant dollars and contributes to about 47 percent of loan defaults.” Clearly these schools aren’t like SNC which has a more generous financial aid system. As their name suggests their purpose is to draw more students in to make a profit. Schools like this shouldn’t be funded by the government if they’re just going to profit off of students and then put them in massive debt. Schools like SNC, that have a fair, non-profit, financial aid system should recieve the federal loan and grant dollars, instead of for profit colleges like Phoenix University.

Just because a student gets good grades doesn’t mean that they’re going to the college of their dreams. Low-income students like “Carlos” from “College for the Rich,” can’t afford the expensive colleges they’ve been accepted to so they have to go to a community or less university. “It’s like I’ve been set up for community college since the start.” Despite having an above average GPA (3.7) his family wasn’t able to provide any money to send him off to college. Even with a federal aid package he still couldn’t afford to go any public colleges. This financial barrier has made public universities exclusively for the middle and upper class students.

Higher education is expensive and for everyone to afford it there needs to be large enough funds to make its price for each students affordable. However, some politicians want to cut massive amounts of funding to universities. Particularly our own states’ governor Scott Walker, who has aimed for massive budget cuts for higher education. At the same time claiming that ACT scores are up and his education policies are working. With this act, higher education will cost more and fewer services will be available for students who need them. This will create an even worse situation for the low-income families that wish to send their children off to college.

The high price of college forces students to work for their education, sometimes even more than they can handle. In the article “Why do students drop out?” Because they have to work at jobs too,” by Elyhe Ashburn, states that the pressure to pay for college tuition contributes to higher dropout rates. In a survey “About 35 percent of those who dropped out said they had tried to balance work and study, and found it too stressful.” Students with jobs, don’t perform as well as students with out the burden of bills pilling up on their desk. No student should have to work for an education, they already have enough trouble with academic grades.

Students shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities because they’re either too poor or can’t afford to keep up. The system which hands out money based on “merit” isn’t fair to students who need it more, than the students with wealthy backgrounds. Colleges need funds to survive but they shouldn’t be based on profits. Either more money needs to be put into college or universities will need to change the way they give out financial aid. Although it may be expensive it’s worth the amount we invest into colleges.

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