The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

Financial aid, flawed necessity

December 5, 2016

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Massive student debt, skyrocketing college tuition and a widening education achievement gap has fueled the discussion about federal financial aid for college. President Barack Obama has made student debt a national initiative when he announced the “Student Debt Challenge”, which was meant to raise awareness for student loan debt. Federal financial aid is very important, however it needs to be renovated. In general, the tuition cost of public college needs to be decreased.

Federal financial aid for college began as a result of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and today it is managed by Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA gives out federal grants and loans to those whose financial situation would make going to college a tremendous financial burden. FAFSA supplies $150 billion yearly to students who are accepted for financial aid.

Junior Joseph Hesse-Withbroe said, “It [federal financial aid] levels the playing field, and allows a person who would not be able to go to college because of financial reasons to go to college.”

Junior Sintra Nichols added, “It [federal financial aid] allows people from all tax brackets to access higher education.”

Financial aid lessens the income and educational inequality gap by giving access to college level education to those who would not be able to afford it. This can break down the cycle of poverty, because with a college-level education a person can on average, obtain a higher paying job. Thus, federal financial aid programs are a necessity in our society.

However, the current federal financial aid program does not come without flaws. According to Jeffrey Dorfman, a writer for Forbes magazine, “Based on appropriate and sophisticated statistical techniques, they found that colleges actually benefit more from increases in student financial aid than students do.”

These studies have shown a link between increased federal financial aid and the rising cost of tuition. Therefore, financial aid is doing more harm than good. Those who are in need of, and getting financial aid, are not actually being helped as much as they are led to believe. And those who do not get federal financial aid are stuck paying more than they should for college.

There is also a focus on making college tuition less expensive overall. Hesse-Withbroe said, “There public colleges so it is the government’s job to regulate them.” Both Hesse-Withbroe and Nichols agreed that the price of college tuition could be reduced by taxing large corporations.

A more educated population is a better population.”

— Sintra Nichols

By reducing the price of college tuition, one of the negative effects of federal financial aid is combatted. It would also allow more people to attend college, and would be less of a burden on federal financial aid. More people would get college degrees and work at a higher paying jobs. Therefore, they would be able to give back more to the government and take less.

Nichols said, “A more educated population is a better population.”

However, there is a concern that more people would go to college just for the sake of going to college, especially if college was free. This was a topic heavily discussed in the presidential election. If people went to college just to go to college, they would be taking funds away from other students and possibly abuse the system.

Financial aid has two opposing sides, one side wants to spend more, and the other side wants to spend less. Those who want to spend more cite the fact that it has led to increasing college tuition. Though they fail to offer up a reasonable compromise, which is necessary because financial aid is necessary to elevate the earning potential of those who otherwise would not be able to attend college.

Those who want to spend more on financial aid are causing colleges to raise their tuition prices, which burdens those who do not get financial aid, and those that do are still stuck paying a large sum of the cost. The key is finding middle ground, and addressing the base issue, which in this case is that the cost of college tuition is simply too high.

Although there is little someone can do about federal financial aid, the cost of college tuition greatly affects high school students, especially those planning on attending college. The best way to make a difference in this situation is by being informed on the issue and what the different sides of the issue are. When the topic of financial aid is brought up, a person will know what their position is on the matter.

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