Why Aren't More Poor Students Applying For Financial Aid And Tutoring? - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-13-2006, 07:01 AM   #1
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Why Aren't More Poor Students Applying For Financial Aid And Tutoring?

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Student aid, tutors underutilized; Some families may not know of eligibility

Associated Press
February 12, 2006


Even as the price of college rises, more low-income students who would likely get federal financial aid aren't even bothering to apply.

A new report by the American Council on Education estimates 1.5 million students who would probably have been awarded Pell Grants in 2003-2004 did not apply for them. That's up from the council's estimate in a previous survey of 850,000 who missed out on aid in 1999-2000.

A major reason is probably confusion over the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Today, at stations set up in high schools, libraries, and other buildings in 25 states, volunteers will help students and families with the forms as part of a program called College Goal Sunday. Tally Hart, who cofounded the program and is director of student financial aid at Ohio State University, says too many students simply assume they will not be eligible because of their income level, when other factors, such as recently losing a job or having other children in college, can extend a family's eligibility.

Families ''adhere to some myths that exist about financial aid: 'My neighbor didn't get anything, so I won't; my older child didn't get any aid, so why go through it again?' " Hart said. Others mistakenly believe only merit-based aid is available and that without top grades they are out of luck.

The ACE study, released Wednesday, finds the percentage of undergraduates completing the FAFSA actually rose from 50 percent to 59 percent over the four-year period it studied, and the total number of applications increased by nearly 3 million, to 11.1 million. But the number of low-income students who did not file rose from 1.7 million to 1.8 million.

During this time the government expanded the Pell program, so ACE estimates 1.5 million people who failed to apply would have received grants. (This doesn't include people who never made it to college, but might have done so with aid.)

In a separate development, The New York Times reported yesterday that four years after President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind education law, hundreds of thousands of students are not getting the tutoring that they are eligible for under the law. Under the No Child Left Behind law, consistently failing high schools that serve mostly poor children are required to offer students remedial help.

Education officials and private tutoring companies give varying reasons for low participation rates, The Times said. The reasons they gave include: the program is allotted too little federal money, is poorly advertised to parents, has too much complicated paperwork for signing up, and that it has not fully penetrated poor neighborhoods.

Among the study's other findings:

--Community college students showed the biggest improvement in aid application rates, with 55 percent failing to apply for aid, compared to 67 percent four years earlier. However, the fraction of low-income students applying for aid held steady at about one-third.
--Half-time students, who are eligible for many aid programs including Pell Grants, significantly increased their aid application rates, with just 42 percent failing to apply, compared to 62 percent four years earlier.
--Independent students - older students who are considered independent of their parents, and who comprise half of all undergraduates - improved from 57 percent failing to apply to 44 percent.
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Old 02-13-2006, 10:04 AM   #2
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A major reason is probably confusion over the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Today, at stations set up in high schools, libraries, and other buildings in 25 states, volunteers will help students and families with the forms as part of a program called College Goal Sunday. Tally Hart, who cofounded the program and is director of student financial aid at Ohio State University, says too many students simply assume they will not be eligible because of their income level, when other factors, such as recently losing a job or having other children in college, can extend a family's eligibility.

Families ''adhere to some myths that exist about financial aid: 'My neighbor didn't get anything, so I won't; my older child didn't get any aid, so why go through it again?' " Hart said. Others mistakenly believe only merit-based aid is available and that without top grades they are out of luck.
I hope the serious disconnect here is only in the way the article is written.

If families believe the myths about (in)eligibility, who is going to bother to take the time on a Sunday to get help filling out useless forms?
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:11 AM   #3
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The amount of financial aid, grants, loans and scholarships available today is actually quite large. Motivated students can apply in multiple categories and collect quite a bit of aid towards college education. Sometime applications require an essay, completion of a questionaire or other efforts. It takes work, but the money is there.

It is surprising that when faced with a potentially large bill for college education that many would simply give up or take the most expensive route to finance their education.
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Old 02-13-2006, 10:47 PM   #4
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Don't you think the complexity of the application is rather secondary to the issue of people not being aware of their eligibility?

If kids and parents were properly aware of the opportunity, many more would figure out the process...perhaps even without "remedial" help.

That money won't be left on the table long.
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Old 02-13-2006, 10:57 PM   #5
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I can't imagine not filing for FAFSA. What have they go to lose?

I by no means come from a poor or lower-class family. While my parents live comfortably, they have no way of paying for my education. My tuition is just over $20,000 a year and financial aid (from FAFSA and the school) plus scholarships covers all but $3000 of that. One of the reasons I decided to go with the program I'm in (business communications) is because there are so many upperclass named scholarships, especially for women. So many people don't even care, I got a named scholarship without a 4.0 and very little extracurricular experience.
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:21 PM   #6
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I'd still like to know how schools in the US justify charging $35K/year for undergrad tuition. Or $20K for that matter. What are you getting? Lecture halls covered in gold? Professors who shit out Godiva? I mean, really.
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:33 PM   #7
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The bloated endowments of some elite colleges aside, it's often more a question of what schools aren't getting from the government, even as the costs of properly equipped facilities and other expenses keep rising. Many large state schools have had to lower admission standards considerably in recent years to maintain high enough enrollments to make up for what they're not getting from the state--tuition increases notwithstanding.
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:43 PM   #8
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But is it also possible that there is a proliferation of post-secondary institutions in the US, many of which are really low rate? I mean, if you want to go to a college in the US, you will go to a college. Heck, if you want to go to a law school, you will go to a law school somewhere, somehow. You would think that with all this extra competition, the tuition would have decreased, but instead what seems to have happened is that these "last resort" schools are charging you a pretty penny for a piece of paper because you can't get it at a ranked institution.

Which brings me to the financial aid - I would assume that highly driven students probably investigate this intensively and I know there are people who make their decisions on what school to attend either partially or completely based on financial aid or scholarships. But for those high school kids who aren't as motivated and whose parents maybe don't have a college or graduate degree, they are probably a lot more reliant on their high school guidance counsellors and the like. These people should really be pushing financial aid information. When I was graduating high school, I remember my guidance counsellor bringing out a huge binder of potential scholarships and encouraging me to apply. A lot of them were directed at certain groups (ie. Irish single mothers from a rural area), but some were also applicable to me. Same goes for financial aid - that was information we received in our high schools. So why isn't this being done?
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
I'd still like to know how schools in the US justify charging $35K/year for undergrad tuition. Or $20K for that matter. What are you getting? Lecture halls covered in gold? Professors who shit out Godiva? I mean, really.
I'm not defending our tuition b/c honestly I think it's rediculous to pay over $100,000 for an undergrad degree (freshman and sophomore year cost $26,000 b/c you're required to live on-campus), but these are the reasons I've been able to sort out...

1. It's a private school, so no gov't money
2. We recently added a new communications building with state of the art everything, including a news broadcast room, video and audio editing labs, and a movie theater. We also added a crosswalk bridge since our campus sits on either side of a highway and crossing is literally taking your life in your hands.
3. Our average class size is less than 30 (many classes are taught in seminar format, rather than lecture format), so we need more professors per students than the large state schools.
4. We don't get lecture halls covered in gold, but again the student-prof ratio is pretty damn appealing and the classrooms, for the most part, are all equiped with everything you need for audio/projection/video/computer technology.

Other than that, I'm not sure, but we were chosen as one of only 81 schools by the Princeton Review as "America's best values". Barron's Best Buys in College Education also ranked us among 260 and we placed 15 out of 925 in the number of students going on to earn a PhD.

The other two private colleges nearby who are as competitive in their academic programs are more expensive than us! I believe over 90% of students here receive financial aid.

It still sucks though. I think the larger issue is not who's applying for aid, but why EVERYONE should HAVE to. As a sophomore in my intro econ class, we watched this video about debt and bankruptcy and there was this couple who was forced to file for bankruptcy with credit card debt of $20,000. I remember this sinking feeling in my gut, knowing that by the time I graduated, I'd be around $50,000 in the whole with interest steadily accumulating....thank heavens I've been advised not to attend grad school for my profession!
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Old 02-14-2006, 12:01 AM   #10
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You know what else sucks about aid and scholarships? How competitive it is these days. My mom went to the same college as me. Back in her day, a 3.4 high school GPA with no honors, APs, or serious exracurriculars earned her a FULL RIDE academic scholarship. Now, a 3.4 is worth maybe $1500 in an automatic dean's scholarship (you don't apply, just get it based on academic merit) and worth jack shit for upperclass named scholarships (the BIG scholarships from donors). Now you need a 4.7 and 150 hours a week of community service just to be considered! Nevermind those of us who had to WORK during high school because our parents were not our personal drivers and cheerleaders.
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