Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Overdue Revisions To America’s Financial Aid Program
By Aimee La Fountain

According to the Washington Post, the average graduate of a four-year college takes out $20,000 in student loans for public school and $40,000 for private schools. In response to this growing problem the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would reduce loan interest for students by approximately $30 per month. This, however, is only the first in a series of actions that need to take place in order to properly reform America’s college assistance program.

In a country as rich as America, we should be dedicating more federal funding to aid worthy students. By doing so, we are investing in the future welfare of our country. Other countries already treat higher education as a high priority. There is no reason that our country shouldn’t progress in the same direction. Too many students today who have trouble affording college are spread thin trying to manage working while also attending college. Students who are funding their own education dedicate much of their day to class, followed by work, and come home exhausted to a pile of homework. Such a grueling schedule makes it challenging to do well on assignments.

Conversely, when hard working students have the proper amount of time to dedicate to their studies their work will reflect that. This, in turn, will translate into a work force of well-trained professionals in the future. Our government should be rewarding students’ academic excellence. Any career involves compensation for one’s labor. The college process should be no different. If students don’t have financial support to go to college it makes the decision to attend college, or which school to attend more difficult.

Our federal government should also provide more non-partisan financial aid advisors to help students in need of loans through the process. Travis Macy, a student taking out loans said, “I regret not knowing more about [factors such as] interest rates, repayment options, and loan consolidation.” It is unrealistic to expect inexperienced teenagers to be informed of all the intricate stipulations of fiscal bureaucracy. This is why many adults hire help when filing their taxes. The role of our government is to help students attain the education to become professionals in their field instead of capitalizing on students’ financial vulnerability.

The loan process itself needs to be simplified. Student Vin Buttaro said, “The loan application process makes going for a loan very discouraging. It takes me almost a month to a month and a half of calling up and paperwork after I fill out the application that I finally get word that I can go to school.” Students already go through enough pains to get into college and successfully complete undergraduate studies. They shouldn’t be punished because they need loans to go to school.

Students who put in the work and earn acceptance into college should be deciding on an education that is best for them and this decision shouldn’t be influenced by which school is affordable. Attaining a college degree is an exceptional accomplishment in this world. And it is the responsibility of our government to do everything in its power to help students reach that achievement.

No comments: