Letters to the Editor, October 27, 2021: Student Financial Aid Solution Involves Several Angles | Letters


Correction of student financial aid

involves several angles

Regarding the recent front-page news article “Decline in demands for student aid signals crisis in education”, it should be noted that the disengagement of students from low-income schools into higher education is not only now becoming a major problem in the midst of the pandemic, or one that can be fully corrected by the free federal student aid app.

According to the Virginia State Board of Higher Education, only 54% of low-income students enroll in college or training, 15 points lower than the state’s overall rate of 69%. It’s no surprise, then, that low-income students are less likely to complete the FAFSA. The example of the article from Petersburg – one of the poorest school districts in Virginia, with 3 out of 4 students eligible for a free or reduced lunch – shows how much bigger issues are at stake than envisioning tens of thousands of dollars for a college degree.

The focus on students completing the FAFSA is a start, but Mark Kantrowitz, a student financial aid expert, is concerned about the FAFSA process. He notes that the expected family contribution allows a cap on financial assistance by excluding other financial data. He also mentions, as the article did, that the long and invasive form may discourage some students from filling it out. Not to mention that a shape shouldn’t be powerful enough to determine such a large life opportunity.