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"For Low Income Students the Suburbs Are No Sure Path to College"

TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14875 replies1005 threads Senior Member
This article looks at the college outcomes of low income students graduating from high schools in affluent sububs. It raises many good points but the prime example they chose to look at was a mistake. She was from a low income family in Massachusetts. She chose to attend Penn State and was forced to drop out during her sophomore year for financial reasons.
From the moment she arrived at Pennsylvania State University in 2010, Atocha struggled to pay her bills, even with the help of financial aid and loans. At first, Atocha forged friendships with classmates in order to borrow textbooks. By her second semester, she chose her classes more strategically — based on whether she could eke out money for the book.

UMass Amherst would have likely been a better and more affordable option and not very different academically.

As CCer's know Penn State is the most expensive sticker price public university in the country and they are known for very limited financial aid, even for in-state students. If her high school guidance counselor had warned her away from attending her dream school (Penn State) that would have led to problems for the GC.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/11/16/for-poor-students-suburbs-are-sure-path-college/T1qo4bg3CaQ9L5nGmQIHIO/story.html
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Replies to: "For Low Income Students the Suburbs Are No Sure Path to College"

  • BmacNJBmacNJ 106 replies14 threads Junior Member
    really don't see it being a low income problem. There are many middle class students that can't afford living away at Penn State or Rutgers or UDel or Ohio State etc....

    It's a matter of COMMON SENSE, if you can't afford it, don't attend.

    Students and parents alike need to have a reality check on college. Living away is not an entitlement, its a privilege. Select an affordable college, even if it means living at home and commuting.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14875 replies1005 threads Senior Member
    The article does not go into what this student's other options were when she was making her decision of where to attend. But I cannot imagine that Penn State would ever be the lowest bottom line cost for an OOS students.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    As CCer's know Penn State is the most expensive sticker price public university in the country and they are known for very limited financial aid, even for in-state students. If her high school guidance counselor had warned her away from attending her dream school (Penn State) that would have led to problems for the GC.

    Why would the counselor telling a student to "check the net price calculators of the colleges on your application list before applying" and that "it is a bad idea to attend a college that requires cosigned or parent loans" lead to problems for the counselor?
    edited November 17
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14875 replies1005 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus GC's do not want to be the ones to "destroy the dreams" of high school seniors...and their parents. So the 3.2 GPA 1200 SAT student with no hook will not likely be told that HYPSM are out of reach. The parents who "will find a way to pay for it" will not get their bubble burst. We have seen many such students and parents here on CC. Add to that the low income discrimination factor that such honest information would trigger. Many of this student's more affluent peers at Newton North High School were going to their dream school even though their families were being stretched financially but won't admit it.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26935 replies175 threads Senior Member
    It raises many good points but the prime example they chose to look at was a mistake.

    And this is a surprise?

    She also could've attended UMass Boston and commuted if she lived close enough to the T. But then, let's not confuse journalists with the facts (of life 'when 'free college for all' sounds more sexy).

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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29661 replies58 threads Senior Member
    It isn’t just a low income issue. And GCs can throw more info out there than they do. Affordability is something they can address, in general, NPCs can be discussed in detail, and what the state and its state schools offer and cost should be put out there. Sadly, GCs have been largely inadequate

    HPY schools can be the very best deals for kids needing and qualifying for financial aid, and yet there have been many aspersions cast the GCs tend to steer kids AWAY from those schools I certainly hope that cost isn’t in that picture as the best financial aid packages often come from expensive private schools.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5946 replies10 threads Senior Member
    CCs at private schools can advise families to look into costs, and some private schools may make referrals to and/or pay for consultants who can help families work through how they will pay for college, but for privacy reasons, I think most CCs cannot/do not do more than ask "have you investigated the affordability of these schools?"

    I would imagine that a GC in a public school, even one in an affluent suburb, has even more constraints.

    It's tough because this is a critical issue while also being one that needs to be handled with great sensitivity. As mentioned by @TomSrOfBoston , there is peer pressure as it is. Having your GC suggest CC because you "seem poor" could come across as something far different than a good intention to get a kid to an affordable school (especially when the most selective schools have great FA.)
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26935 replies175 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    With 300 spots per unhooked gender (my back of the envelope post lawsuit estimate) at Harvard each year vs the 1.8 million USA based college applicants and countless overseas students in the mix - steering them away from these type of schools as the strategic financial option is basic, prudent understanding of the mathematics.

    Sure, it should be part of the aaply to the high reach and pray category - but without a well thought out plan for the statical probability of a denial (even for the most competitive applicants) is malpractice imho.

    Agree with PB. Moreover, a good GC knows with near certainty that HYP only accepts the xx students per class and if low income student is xx minus 10, the odds have just dropped to near zero. For example, our HS Val has been accepted to Harvard most of the last 10 years. But ONLY the Val has gotten into H; all others from our HS are just wasting their app fees (unless they like playing the Lotto).
    edited November 17
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5946 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus , they could. And many do. But ime, it's a small fraction of the families that actually pay attention, whether the info is mailed out, presented at a meeting, etc.

    So the counselors end up defaulting to what they see as the norm in their community. I certainly see this is our LPS.
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  • compmomcompmom 10922 replies77 threads Senior Member
    @privatebanker my reference to lunch table talk related to the Newton school system, which is pretty aspirational and high stress.

    We used a mediocre high school system in a working class town and didn't have that problem. However, our GC steered my kids away from Ivies because noone had ever gone to one and the GC thought they would be too expensive. We didn't listen actually. Our goal was to reduce costs and Ivies were a good strategy actually.

    My family has experienced a wide range of schools, from community college to Ivies. My favorite classes personally were UMass Boston, a very diverse environment with small humanities classes and teachers who care.
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  • Jon234Jon234 353 replies9 threads Member
    edited November 17
    Most people will do more research into their next phone plan than they will into the college application process and affordability.

    The first time you look at a college website and see the cost of attendance, if that doesn’t tell you it’s time to do some serious research I’m not sure what will.





    edited November 17
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29661 replies58 threads Senior Member
    I know student at University of Rhode Island who is a Massachusetts resident. Is getting some financial aid, but still paying more than what UMass would cost. Parents doing it because she preferred URI.

    It’s what parents do, what kids like, and that’s fine. But no sympathy about it costing too much from me.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26935 replies175 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    ...
    It’s what parents do, what kids like, and that’s fine. But no sympathy about it costing too much from me.

    Concur, but I'll bet that some journalist (with a pov) will still write a woe-is-me and loans-are-bad story on someone just like her.

    edited November 17
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79014 replies701 threads Senior Member
    Journalism seems to be a low income profession for most these days, so journalists may themselves be more likely to be struggling with student loans (even if only the federal direct loans). This personal experience may affect how they feel on the subject, whether or not it is representative of college students and recent graduates generally.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14875 replies1005 threads Senior Member
    @bluebayou There was an article about the student debt crisis recently. It featured a student who graduated from UCLA with $100,000 in loans. She was an OOS student at UCLA. She was living wih her parents and working in retail. No sympathy here.
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