Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 117 - "Sugar We're Goin' Down Swingin'"

I read this article about whether or not children should pay for college completely on their own or with assistance from parents.

So, my opinion is a little bit biased on this topic, especially because I'm one of the kids who were told, "sorry, you are going to college, but you'll have to pay for this one yourself. Go find some loans."

According to the article, a study conducted by Public Agenda reported that roughly 42% of students who receive no financial assistance from home actually finish college. My parents paid for books, which weren't all that expensive given that most of my books could be bought used for a nickle, but everything else was me. I almost didn't graduate because of a $996 balance for my last semester that I couldn't just cut a check for and still take care of everything else. Like clothes, food, supplies, and sorority dues to stay in good standing so that I could keep the scholarship they gave me.

In reality, though, financial aid is designed to account for parents chipping in a certain amount of educational expenses. Sure, if a student has decided to get an apartment off campus instead of living in a dorm, I feel that the student should pay for the extras, not the parents. But if, for a student, it comes down to paying tuition or dropping out of school to work three jobs in order to pay off all of the previous loans, then parents should be better educated on the financial aid process.

When anyone who is a dependent completes the FAFSA, they are told up front that the expected family contribution (EFC) is x amount of dollars based on the information provided. That can be in loans, cold hard cash, or other forms of payment that do not involve selling organs or humans on the black market.

In all honesty, things would have turned out a lot differently had I gotten help from my parents paying for college. You can say yes, I chose to go to a private school and stay to watch tuition go up over $5,000 over four years, but in order to get the education and the challenge I needed, that was where I had to go. Even from the beginning, declining all student loans and making monthly payments couldn't even have come close to paying off tuition out of pocket. I would have to work every single minute that I was not in class, and forget about sleep, food, or studying.

With the rising cost of college, isn't there some way to help college kids out? Seminars for parents and students on financial aid? Lower interest loans? Or, heaven forbid, cap or lower tuition at ALL schools, not just state ones?

We can always hope, so that when I tell my grandkids that I graduated with $70,000 in student loans and had to walk up hill both ways through the snow to pay them, they'll think I'm telling three exagerated stories instead of two lies and a truth.


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