Today I read an interesting article about Harvard boosting their financial aid. Specifically, Harvard’s goal was to make the $45,620 yearly tuition price tag more affordable for everyone. The first thing I thought when I saw the headline was “about time!”
Students who come from families that make less than $60,000 annually already don’t have to pay anything to go to Harvard, but what about students who come from families that make more? Harvard found that students from financially well-off families (meaning middle class, and upper middle class) were forced to hold jobs that sometimes hampered their overall college experience. This is much like the plight I have had in college, as well as my siblings and many of my friends.
What do we do for the students who aren’t poor enough to receive FAFSA or university financial aid, yet aren’t rich enough to have their parents fund their entire education? It seems that this gap is ever increasing in today’s economy. When I fill out the FAFSA, it claims my parents can afford to give me $40,000 a year for college. I’m not sure in what universe my parents could ever give me $40,000, but it’s not this one. They can’t give me very much at all, yet I am denied aid because they just surpass a certain economic bracket. Therefore, many, many students like me are forced to take out huge loans and work constantly to afford tuition and fees. Which, as Harvard leaders saw it, can take away from the college experience. I still think it’s a great idea to get a job in college, but if you’re having to work 40 hours a week for school, you won’t be able to go through some of the greatest learning experiences in college (you’ll be too busy).
Harvard has now made it so that families between $60,000 and $120,000 would have to pay 10% of their incomes. That’s still a lot of cash, but paying $12,000 a year for a Harvard education, down from $19,000 is quite a drop when you think about it. If a family earns $180,000, their bill would drop from $30,000 to $18,000. To be fair, Harvard is the world’s richest university, so other schools won’t have the type of endowments to support that much aid. However, even making a little effort would have a positive effect.
Given these often trying economic times, it’s nice to see that some Universities are finally coming around and realizing how difficult it is to afford a college education these days. In March, I will most certainly fill out the FAFSA again. I know I’ll only be eligible for low interest rate loans, and I’ll have to continue to work my way through college, take out loans, and even try to find a few weird scholarships to make up the difference. Maybe other schools will come around and realize that despite what a family may make, they may not be able to simply pay for all (or even most) of a college education.
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