There is no question that education, through college, is critical to economic success in America. Income and wealth are clearly linked to education achievement. Therefore, it makes much sense to make sure that as many college ready kids actually make it to college as possible. Even if this means that we provide financial resources, financial aid, to those college material kids who may not have the resources to pay for that education on their own.
However, the devil is in the details: College Material.
We do not want to provide financial aid to kids who aren’t going to succeed at the collegiate level. But you would never know it from reading media stories of what is going on in America:
WASHINGTON — Low-income students are increasingly bypassed when colleges offer applicants financial aid, as schools compete for wealthier students who can afford rising tuition and fees, according to a public policy institute’s analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.
The study by The New America Foundation said that colleges, in their quest to advance their U.S. News & World Report rankings, are directing more financial aid to high-achieving applicants in a bid to elevate the profile of their student population.
I had to read that twice:
- schools compete for wealthier students
- directing more financial aid to high-achieving applicants
How does a journalist for Reuters miss this badly? On the one hand she is claiming that schools are competing for wealthy students. Why?
…wealthier students who can afford rising tuition and fees…
Never mind that wealthy or not, the student attending the school is going to pay either with their own money or with the money given to them by financial assistance programs.
Yet, on the other hand, she reports that colleges are recruiting the smartest kids they can find.
Which is it?
As part of their strategy to compete for the best students, colleges use merit-based aid, which does not take into account financial need. Under this strategy, institutions may, for instance, give four $5,000 awards to lure four wealthy students rather than award $20,000 to one needy student, the organization said.
Okay, so colleges want to admit the best and the brightest. In order to do this, they invest on high achieving students. I’m not sure why this is controversial or even surprising.
Now, the interesting question that I think Nawaguna misses is why are high achieving students coming from “students from the rich suburban schools”.
THAT would be an interesting study.