• [In] a recent survey of 116 U.S. cities, there was an average of 42 tanning salons per city. This means that tanning salons are more prevalent than Starbuck’s or McDonald’s.

    Paige Goedde
  • Males today have become much too obsessed with maintaining a masculine image in order to be constantly climbing higher on the social ladder

    Sarah Pierce
  • If the TV industry really wants to give these teens hope, they need to portray gay teens as they are—uncertainty and all. 

    Ashley Davidson
  • If we were all to just put down our devices for a short while and pull our eyes away from our phones and television screens, we might save some lives, treat everyone a little nicer, pay attention to the things that really matter, and succeed more in schoolwork and in life.

    Jillian Leedy
  • Pro-life supporters believe those who are pro-choice think that fetuses are not human, while pro-choice supporters actually think that fetuses are not human beings, a distinction that clearly needs to be made and clarified. 

    Todd Testerman

No Aid For You: Cheating the Middle Class

By Jennifer Hutchison

How many students do you know are in college and racking up thousands of dollars in debt because their parents make too much money to qualify for Federal and State Financial aid? About two thirds of college students graduate with student loans. The average debt for a four-year graduate of a public university is close to $20,000. Federal and State Financial aid is focused and given to low-income students leaving the large group of middle-class students to fend for ourselves. The Federal and State Financial aid systems need to be reformed to widen the requirements for grants to include the middle-class since the current recession has been hitting them the hardest.

When Financial Aid systems were created in the 1960’s their main purpose was to increase enrollment rates for higher education. This meant focusing grants toward low-income students who could not otherwise attend college because of financial barriers. Expectations of high school graduates have changed dramatically since the 1960’s. It is expected of high school graduates to go on to higher education, even if we do not have the money to do so. Since these expectations have changed, the price of college tuition has also changed, increasing 439% over the past several decades as reported by The Economist. Due to this large increase in tuition, middle-class families can no longer afford to pay for their child’s education, putting them in the same situation as the low-income students. The average cost of a public four-year university is around $7,500, not including room and board. Compare that too the average middle-class family income of between $37,000 and $75,000 and it is easy to see that it is impossible for families to pay for college when they have a mortgage and more than one child. However, unlike low-income students of the 1960’s who could not afford college, instead of going out into the workforce after graduation, middle-class students are now expected to go on to college. The workforce has become more competitive and the only way to get ahead of your competition is having a better education. Because of this they are racking up thousands of dollars in debt that they will be paying off the rest of their lives. 

Many middle-class students are frustrated with the system and some are starting to speak up and inform the public of what is going on and how this is affecting us. In an article written by Ahnalese Rushman on mndaily.com, a struggling middle-class student’s story is told. Like a large portion of students who attend colleges and universities around the country, Theodor Maghrak is being put further and further into debt because he was not given Federal and State Financial aid grants. He was not eligible because it appeared that his mother made enough money to pay for a large portion of his tuition, when in reality that is impossible. The financial aid formulas used to decide who gets grants and who doesn’t does not include other financial obligations that families have such as mortgages. Maghark said in his interview “I shouldn’t have to work the graveyard shift at UPS…[or] sign my life away to ROTC just to pay for college.” This shows the extraordinary measures that we as middle-class students are having to take in order to attend college and that it is not right. Shouldn’t the government help shoulder some of this financial responsibility that us young adults are having to deal with just to attend college?

This lack of Government-sponsored Financial Aid is an all too common occurrence in our country, and studies are showing that the debt facing students when they graduate is affecting their career choices. In a scholarly article written by Bridget Terry Long, an economist who specializes in education, she reported that student loans are causing students to deter from careers in public service fields such as teaching and social work. According to the State Public Interest Research Group’s Higher Education Project, 23 percent of students who graduate from public universities would face unmanageable debt burdens if they entered teaching based upon average starting salaries. Students avoiding careers in public service is doing nothing but hurting our country even more. If college students are avoiding careers such as teaching and social work, that will only continue the downward spiral our economy is already in. Teachers and social workers careers are based on helping people and educating people. The government should be taking larger measurements to change this and keep it from happening.

Some private universities are taking matters into their own hands to help out middle-class students more. Universities like Amherst College are replacing loans in their student financial aid packages with grants in the hope to attract more talented students who might be turned off by their sticker price. Private universities can afford to do this because they have substantially higher alumni contributions than most public universities. However, if public universities took the initiative, they too could come up with programs to help out middle-class students even if they do not currently have the same resources as private universities. Small budget cuts from sports teams, or a more aggressive approach to donations could open up many more possibilities for students like you and me.

Just because middle-class students may have grown up in nicer homes and in better neighborhoods than low-income students, that does not mean that the government should deny them the financial aid grants that they so desperately need. If these financial aid systems do not get fixed and set on the right track, this problem will only grow bigger. The debt that students face because of a lack of financial aid grants could potentially cause students to not graduate, or even avoid college all together which will do nothing but hurt our country even more. If American students do not graduate and finish college, we will fall even more behind other countries like China and Japan economically and educationally. This is also hurting us on a financial level in the long run. About fourteen percent of college graduates end up defaulting on their loans 3 years after they graduate because they are not making enough money to keep up with their massive amounts of debt. The government needs to intervene now before things get even worse, because as we all know, tuition is still rising and jobs are getting harder and harder to come by.

Spring 2011

University of Cincinnati

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