The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Stuck in the middle

As the time period for satisfying fall semester financial requirements at St. John’s came to an end last week, apprehensions have continued to spew over the never-ending decreases in financial aid.

Within the last few weeks, the office of Student Financial Services has been filled with patrons requesting loan contracts, fixed tuition forms, deferment plan sheets, and final semester bills.

Moreover, many St. John’s students have been flustered with loan forms that seem almost painful to fill out.

Financial trials over tuition payments for the fall semester have become increasingly evident, especially for students from middle-income families.

Many students from these families have found themselves lost with inadequate amounts of financial support from the federal government, their parents, and the University.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), generally filled out every spring, is one of the main operatives of financial analysis used to measure how much financial aid students should receive. In addition, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is a grant program that aids residents of New York with student financial aid.

St. John’s offers some financial assistance of their own to students based on income and tax rates

from student households.

But although these programs are relatively accurate in measuring the status of a student’s financial aid situation and assisting in the fulfillment of their requirements, they often fail to recognize the financial struggles that many middle-income students face.

Students from lower-income families typically receive large amounts of financial aid from both the government and the University because of their inability to pay for high-tuition rates. Students from highincome families generally receive munificent amounts of tuition money from their parents who have the financial capability to do so.

However, many students whose families are stuck in the middle bracket receive insufficient amounts of financial aid from the government, and are forced instead to squeak by.

After acquiring completed FAFSA forms from these students and evaluating their family’s expected income, the government usually does not distribute the same amount of money to them as they would to lower-income students because of their seemingly sufficient funds.

In reality, the parents of these middle-income families usually own property, have large mortgage payments, are paying off car loans, and/or are supporting their families without any assistance from the government.

As a result, many middle-income parents are unable to assist their children in paying tuition, forcing them to take out loans that accumulate harsh amounts of interest throughout their time of study. Upon graduation, many of these same students will be drowned in debt that they will struggle to pay off for years.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, over 50 percent of college students graduate with high amounts of debt, and over 40 percent of these students come from middle-income families.

The primary issue is that the previously mentioned financial aid programs aren’t properly recognizing and addressing the financial insolvencies that hurt many middle-income families.

Universities and federal financial aid programs should offer more specific application forms and programs geared towards helping middle-income families pay for their child’s college tuition.

If this kind of practice were instituted, middle-income students would receive the proper financial assistance that they need, and would not have to worry about adopting ludicrous amounts of debt upon graduation. Furthermore, it would decrease dropout rates for universities throughout the country.

In many European countries like France, tuition charged by universities is completely covered by the government. Although the country might have high amounts of public taxes, the money collected by the government goes to a significant cause. In fact, the Letudiant, a French publication of education statistics, reports that a graduate student can pay as little as €750 (a little over $950) for a quality master’s degree from a private French university.

The federal government and universities throughout the country need to make more of an effort towards assisting middle-income families in paying tuition rates.

They need to understand that while these families may be earning an income above the poverty line, the immense price of an education in this country is not a cost they can bear without assistance.

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