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Financial Aid Unfair? psh, It's Absurd!

tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
Warning this is a rant. Does anyone else think that financial aid is absurdly unfair to middle-upper-middle class students? Even the ivy leagues charge absurd amounts. I find it funny how if you make less than 100k a year, then they're super gracious, but one penny more and nope, all that help is gone! I find it very hard to believe that most of those families can easily dispose 25% of their yearly income to helping one of their children go to college. It's absolutely ridiculous! The reality is that most of those kids will have to either take out insane amounts of loans, or wind up being forced to say no to ivy league schools and their dreams for Community College which is often the only affordable option.

Why do colleges expect that students with a tad bit wealthier parents can take out more in loans than their sub 40k counterparts? These loans are the students responsibility, not the parents. As everyone exits college with a clean slate, why should a kid with poor parents come out debt free while a middle class kid has 80k in debt for just their undergraduate years? It's wrong! Punishing students and their parents because their parents worked hard and with some luck got a better job than others?

Schools that are holistic in their admissions process should be more so with their financial aid. Numbers don't tell the entire tale, and it's cruel to lead kids to believe that if their accepted, college will be affordable because they "Don't want finances to be a barrier" from attending. Grade A BS is what that is.
Post edited by tipa891 on
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Replies to: Financial Aid Unfair? psh, It's Absurd!

  • kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,461Super Moderator Senior Member
    Am I to assume that you are advocating that all schools do away with financial aid? Since your model would mean all students would get aid, then there is no purpose for aid. Schools would publish a sticker price and everyone would pay it ... or not. Those who cannot or will not, will not go to the school. Only the students whose parents earn enough, save enough, AND are willing to part with the money would get to go.

    Not sure how this solves anything.
  • tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
    By no means am I saying do away with financial aid, I'm saying the way it is implemented at top schools is unfair. It's distributed wrong. They give crazy offers to kids of somewhat low income allowing them to graduate debt free, while the kids who just pass the cutoff are left out of luck and are forced to take on significant debt or say bye bye to all they worked for in the admissions process.

    Outside scholarships don't help because most that could do anything significant to an ivy league fin aid package are also based on "financial need". You don't receive Pell? Oh, sucks to be you!

    The number of options for low income students to attend and afford college if they work for it are boundless. There are opportunities everywhere, but for these middle income kids? You better either cure aides or be a football prodigy or your dreams are out the window.

    Financial aid needs to be distributed better. Much better.
  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 34,900Registered User Senior Member
    Parent here. We are in that upper middle class income. We had no difficulty at all paying for college out of current income. It was more than a third of our take home pay. Sorry, but I don't happen to agree with you. I think with good planning and applications to the RIGHT schools, college can be affordable to folks
    In this income range. Now if you HAVE to attend HTPSM or the like, that is another issue. No one HAS to attend these colleges to get a more than fine education.
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Posts: 2,065Registered User Senior Member
    I understand your rant and your frustration, but I must disagree with the premise that everyone who exits college does so with a clean slate. I work with low income students. I probably can't convince you that even with lower loans (and by the way, most of them don't have lower loans), they are not on equal footing with the wealthy (or upper middle class as we sometimes like to call them).
  • tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
    I understand it's not universal, but I've heard more stories than not about the difficulties of paying for college in this range. I'm glad it worked for your family, but I know several kids who are waaaay out of luck, more than not. When instate public schools are costing 20k out of pocket, there's a problem.

    My main issue is I hate how kids are punished due to this system. Some parents expect their kids to go to good colleges and have a game plan for them fresh out of the womb, some are in the middle ground, and some never expected it and find themselves blindsided. Who gets punished by this? The student who's tirelessly worked for their goals to see them fall right before their eyes because the schools they applied too put on false white hats and gave them the impression that it would be possible.

    I know tons of kids in this situation and it deeply upsets me.
  • tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
    Btw, I would like to mention that I have a good understanding of the lower middle class/poor (I say the first those these schools classify me as the latter). I am one of those students, and I've had boundless opportunities. My parents didn't go to college and now paying for my higher education is a cakewalk! In contrast I'm having to watch close friends be torn apart by the financial aid process, kids who have worked as hard or harder than I have.

    I've seen their homes and their lifestyles and I've seen mine, and I KNOW that they deserve more funding then they so often receive. My family doesn't make much, but they could contribute some. 3k? 4k? Would it be hard, yes, but it wouldn't be any harder than many of these other kids? No, it would not.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,461Super Moderator Senior Member
    If there is no assumption that parents bear the responsibility for paying for an education, then who the heck is going to bother? Why scrimp or save if your kid would not be penalized if you don't? I mean this in all sincerity. Parents do not have to pay, but to absolve them of their responsibility to do so does not level the playing field in any way, shape, or form. It changes the playing field, and not in a positive way.

    There has to be a cut-off for aid somewhere. Being just on the other side of it is no fun, but every time you move it, someone else is just on the other side.

    It's been said before, but life is not fair. It just isn't. But there are options available to students, and even if it takes a few extra years because you have to work to get through school, it can be done. Sure, the expensive schools might not be open to you, but many other fine schools are.
  • sosomenzasosomenza Posts: 2,122- Senior Member
    Consider that the biggest preference in college is the ability to pay. 30% of Stanford students are full pay, which I think means that family income is greater than $250K a year. Since only 2% of the population make more than $250K. A 30% full pay enrollment is quite the preference. (BTW-Stanford doesn't have to give anything, and I'm respectful for what they do give. I'm just pointing out the power of paying)

    Stanford sets undergraduate tuition, reaffirms commitment to financial aid
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,292Registered User Senior Member
    I find it very hard to believe that most of those families can easily dispose 25% of their yearly income to helping one of their children go to college

    FAFSA EFC is typically 1/3 to 1/4 of before tax income for everyone.
    So even if you are attending a school that meets 100% of need, and your family BEFORE tax income is less than $50,000, your EFC will be 1/4 of that.
    Say $14,000.
    If families living on 48,000 can spend 1/4 of their income, is it really that much of a hardship for families making six figures to do the same thing?
  • BobWallaceBobWallace Posts: 1,695Registered User Senior Member
    The problem is not the financial aid structure - it's the fixation you and many others have on a small set of insanely expensive colleges.
  • dietz199dietz199 Posts: 1,892Registered User Senior Member
    Yes, the system is ... um...silly. For example... I know for a fact that one can be full CalGrant (CA system) and 75% Pell Grant eligible via FAFSA data and at the same time be considered a full pay based on the CSS-PROFILE. FA, same as the whole college acceptance process is not fair, logical or even ethical. It is what it is...the best one can do is figure out how to game the system.

    Those in the middle need to decide how to spend their limited resources. As the Stanford example in #9 shows, the elite colleges will continue to need more and more full pays to subsidize their FA students. IMHO, the smart middle class will refuse the option to subsidize and move on to institutions which provide a fantastic education for a considerably lesser cost.
  • tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
    I'm not saying that in every case parents shouldn't have to pay, I'm not even saying in most. But when some kids get in for free because they're "poor" while others are expected to what? take out a second mortgage on their home?

    I'm not saying raise the cutoff exactly, I'm saying the system needs reform. Instead of plugging everything into a calculator, they should really look at the family and what their real expenses are. Instead of a novel of numbers like the CSS profile, maybe they should ask for an essay explaining household life? What about people from large families? Often upper middle class (I'm saying this because as I said earlier, I'm friends with several kids in this income range, and I would definitely not consider them wealthy). Often people with large families contribute to many family members not considered dependents, but these schools don't care about that. That's just one example. The list of circumstances goes on and on, and although these can be reported, they don't get much weight.

    These students were admitted holistically and their aid should be holistic. Family tax brackets and finances are definitely not one size fits all.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 32,292Registered User Senior Member
    Often people with large families contribute to many family members not considered dependents, but these schools don't care about that

    Having a large family is a choice. Schools dont feel obligated to subsidize those choices.
  • tipa891tipa891 Posts: 333Registered User Member
    @BobWallace, I'm not just talking about a small set. I know kids in this bracket where the only affordable option is community college, which, although I'm not dissing on it by any means, isn't the most optimal path to graduate and professional school down the line. Top privates with supposed great fin aid? waay too expensive? Public universities? way to expensive when most scholarships go only to the absolute top of the top academically or fantastic athletes. Even In state Universities are often too expensive. Asking anyone to contribute a fourth of their yearly income for anyone is crazy! What are those multi-billion dollar endowments for?

    I wouldn't be so upset if these institutions were straight up about this whole mess, but no. They act all Mother Teresa like. Talk about false advertising :/
  • Lydia15Lydia15 Posts: 172Registered User Junior Member
    You need to get over yourself and be happy that you can afford new clothes and have 3 meals a day. So what if poor kids can graduate debt free at HYPSM. You do not understand the kind of struggle they had to go through and the lack of resources they had when going to the poorer high schools. Finally, life is not fair to the rich.
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