Larger emphasis on need-based college scholarships well justified

By Tyler Conrad ’17

When looking at the base price of a college tuition, it’s easy to fall right out of your chair at how outlandish the numbers can be.

Many people realize as a way to soften the blow of these numbers is the possibility of a scholarship in some form from the institution.

However, the reason students are getting these scholarships has become a disputed topic in recent years.

There are two chief types of financial aid: merit and need-based.

MIT admissions defines merit based scholarships as money provided to the student based on any talent of the applicant, whether it be academics, athletics or musicality.

Need-based, on the flip side, is exactly what it sounds like. Most systems calculating need-based aid cite the only criteria to be the expected tuition cost and the expected amount that could be paid by the student’s family.

“The current college landscape expects families to contribute to the cost of a student’s education,” said college counselor Mrs. Kallie Hylle. “As a result, most aid is need based aid.”

While some find this shift to be unfair, I find it to be totally just and it’s rational to be quite legit.

Most of the country’s incredibly most selective schools, such as Harvard and MIT, put a large majority of their scholarship assets toward need-based students. If a student is extraordinary enough to be granted admission into one of these institutions, he/she should have the ability to attend, regardless of their financial situation.

Let’s say an Ivy League college has a specific scholarship, named the “36 Scholarship,” which students with a perfect ACT score are given. Now, imagine if a student with a more affluent family received an ACT 36, and a lower-class student receives a 35. Both prove themselves to be incredibly intelligent students, but only one is likely going to have the chance to attend a private institution, solely because he scored a point higher on a standardized test.

There is an argument that should be acknowledged moving away from need-based aid. Many find that while financial aid toward the lower class can prove exceptionally helpful, the middle class with a smaller amount of money offered is still left to pay a large price, and the more affluent households even more. There is no way to look around it, paying tuition is likely a sacrifice for every household. What families facing larger sums should be reminded of is that their sacrifices are getting a less fortunate student a quality college education.

Another beautiful part of need-based based scholarship systems is they are usually completely loan free. They are not setting up students to be drowning in debt as they graduate, but rather with a solid degree and an education to prepare them for the world.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid offers a net price calculator to estimate the amount of need-based scholarship a family will receive. Students should input their income information to receive an estimate for a particular college’s asking.

Colleges understand how exorbitant their asking prices can be. By focusing money towards need-based aid, more deserving students can make an acceptance a reality.


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