By Miranda Holguin
My mother came from a very humble background.
Since her father wandered in and out of her life, she was raised almost entirely by her mother, who had to work to support the whole family. Because she lacked a good support system at home, she eventually dropped out of high school.
Later on she got her GED and took the extra steps to get a high school diploma.
But she knew she wanted more for herself and her future children, so she worked hard and put herself through nursing school to become an RN in the hopes that she could give my siblings and I everything she didn’t have.
Ironically, by bettering her financial situation, it made it harder for her to pay for our education because the only financial aid we are eligible for is loans.
Clearly, the system used to determine how much financial aid will be given to students should be more effective.
Any student who wants financial aid is required to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, making it impossible to avoid the government’s method of determining how much aid will be awarded.
And how is this amount determined? By looking at a student’s parent or guardian’s annual income based on their taxes.
Less money will be awarded to students who have higher household incomes.
This is a flawed system because a parent’s income typically does not reflect how much money he or she has to spend on a child’s education.
In cases where the student is not in contact with his or her parent or guardian, the only alternative is to file as an independent, but this can only be done in certain circumstances, for example, if a student is an orphan or a veteran.
This can also be problematic for students who are paying for college on their own.
My ex-boyfriend faced some of these problems when he tried to enroll in college.
He had lived on his own since he was 17, but his financial aid was based on his father’s income, which made him appear to have enough money to afford college.
In reality, he was living off of a Carl’s Jr. job, barely making rent and hadn’t spoken with his father in a year or so.
When he went to the financial aid office, he was told that his only option was legal emancipation from hisparent – a lengthy process that would not guarantee his qualification as an independent.
This is just one of the many cases where someone who does not have the means to pay for college is denied the aid he should be receiving.
Honestly, aid should be rewarded based on academic performance.
We live in a democracy. Basing financial aid on academic performance is more egalitarian because it is something a student has control over.
Students who receive a GPA of 3.5 and above would get enough money to pay for their tuition and textbooks.
For example, students who are in the 3.0 to 3.5 range would get enough money to pay their tuition and anything lower than a 3.0 would only be eligible for loans, if anything. The number of classes being taken should also be taken into consideration.
Not only will this motivate students to try harder in their classes, it is only logical to invest federal student aid in students who are putting in the work to get their degrees.
Currently, there is no system in place to monitor what students spend their financial aid on once they receive it.
This leaves students the option to treat federal aid as if it is their personal income.
I am only eligible for loans that at times do not even cover the full cost of tuition, while I have friends who go out and buy drinks with their financial aid money. One even used financial aid money to take a vacation to Rome.
In order to combat this problem, a system needs to be put in place where financial aid students are required to provide proof of purchase for school-related items. Any excess funds should be returned.
In addition, I think a law should be put in place requiring students who drop out to repay the money they received from the U.S. Department of Education so that the money can be invested in the education of others who will finish their schooling.
Every person who wants to pursue a higher education should have equal means of paying for it, not based on something that is out of their control, but based on their dedication to achieving academic success.
Miranda Holguin is a fifth-year communication student with an emphasis in journalism.
Sungah Choi / The Poly Post
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