Financial Aid: The Problem With Merit Aid

1397 words - 6 pages

There was a time in the United States when moving north was a decision that could profoundly change one’s way of life. Specifically, this choice would impact southern dwelling African-Americans. The socioeconomic and cultural effects were great. The decision was made by many who were seeking a better life and new opportunities: two million African American migrants. Today, for many young African-Americans, pursuing the move from secondary education to collegiate education has those same benefits and more. Like the people of the Great Migration, today’s population of Black college seekers are finding that gaining access to these opportunities is difficult. The move into these new regions for the past’s migrants and today’s students was/is not easy, and finding the money to fund the undertaking was/is the most critical step. A reason for the struggle of today’s migrants: access to preferred means of financial aid such as grants and scholarships. The funds for merit based financial aid are growing rapidly, while the funds for need based aid is staggering along. The resulting circumstance is less financial support for low-income students. The newly found emphasis on merit-based financial aid over need-based aid serves as a disadvantage to students of lower incomes and should be disputed.
What is so wrong with merit based aid? Merit based financial aid is great for many families planning to put their young adults through college. This form of “free money” towards college tuition and fees helps to offset the already outrageous, rising cost of college attendance. Over the last decade tuition and fees at four year public universities has increased 5.6% per year beyond the rate of general inflation (College Board 3). Many families who had saved for their college bound student’s expenses still found the difference to be paid was much more than expected. There is no denial of merit based aid due to estimated family contribution, or family income; families are eligible for merit awards regardless of which income bracket they belong. As a supplement to need-based aid, merit- aid can dramatically lessen the financial bludgeoning that college costs can incur. Furthermore, the implementation of aid based on student achievement has been a tool of encouragement. Students can receive aid for their excellence in athletics, academics, the arts, and for high scores on college entrance exams. High school students work hard to receive financial aid of this kind, many of them taking on the most rigorous coursework offered such as AP classes. Bright, high achieving students are desirable to colleges because they are seen as less likely to be a part of the retention population: students who leave college before completing a degree. The amount of offered merit based aid is a motivator that often attracts students to certain colleges and universities. Why wouldn’t we want to offer the brightest and the best the money that they desire; they reciprocate, they are a benefit...

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