Financial Aid: Merit or Need

Budget

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?

It continues:

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.

11 responses to “Financial Aid: Merit or Need

  1. 1) Ideally, college should be engines of social mobility– not just helping the rich get richer.
    2) The aid comes at the expense of the poor who would achieve much more marginal benefit from it: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/05/how-colleges-are-selling-out-the-poor-to-court-the-rich/275725/
    3) Really– you want to see the study about high achieving student coming from rich suburban schools? We’ve got that one pretty well figured out.

    • Ideally, college should be engines of social mobility– not just helping the rich get richer.

      Mmmmm… not sure what you mean. If you mean that colleges should try and attract and make sure that all college material students get in, independent of income, I w ould be more willing to agree.

      I don’t think you are saying that in an effort to equalize wealth inequality that colleges should not work to get rich college material in, are you?

      The aid comes at the expense of the poor who would achieve much more marginal benefit from it:

      Wait. For that to be true you would have to show me two students who are equally college material. And then show me that colleges are throwing money at the rich one and not the poor one.

      You didn’t show me that in “The Atlantic” story.

      Really– you want to see the study about high achieving student coming from rich suburban schools? We’ve got that one pretty well figured out.

      More and more these days, intelligence is the key to accumulating wealth. So, as IQ tracks with wealth, you are going to rich people who are smart.

      And smart people have smart kids. Those who are not smart have kids who are also not smart. Of course, this is in general. Smart parents can have not smart kids in the same way that tall parents can have short kids.

      • Oh my. So not getting into the IQ thing (though not denying for a second that IQ is strongly heritable). And, boy do you have some disturbing views on “college material.”

        • So not getting into the IQ thing (though not denying for a second that IQ is strongly heritable).

          I think that’s fair; very sticky subject.

          And, boy do you have some disturbing views on “college material.”

          College material can be defined anyway you want to. I don’t think I tried to define it in this post, but if I were to, it would focus on the ability to take and pass collegiate level courses. College may be of limited use to those scoring in the lowest decile of the ACT/SAT tests.

  2. Interesting discussion (if the political correctness can be put aside)!

    The brain is like a muscle, so it would make sense that parents who don’t use it produce kids that don’t use it, and so forth. It’s being shown time and time again through research that ANY brain, regardless of heredity, can grow and improve, yet there are still those who refuse to even try.

    I think for those college would be a complete waste on them, including the financial aid to get them there. Subsidize grade school to make up for economic factors I’d say “Yes”, but college? Definitely not.

    And forget the SAT’s – an enunciation test for those with English as a first language should be all we need to discern the deserving from the undeserving as far as post-secondary education access is concerned. A measure of work ethic would be second, and entrepreneurial spirit would be third in my world. This would make it open to all regarding of socioeconomic status or ethnicity, and would allow all investments in these peoples’ educations a shot at paying off for the state.

    Not sure if that all was off-topic, but that’s my two cents.

    • The brain is like a muscle, so it would make sense that parents who don’t use it produce kids that don’t use it, and so forth.

      Further, like all other muscles, some people’s are bigger and faster; stronger.

    • The brain is like a muscle, so it would make sense that parents who don’t use it produce kids that don’t use it

      This is nonsensical to the point of being impossible to address. Are you talking about environmental factors? What does this have to do with muscles?

      And forget the SAT’s – an enunciation test for those with English as a first language should be all we need to discern the deserving from the undeserving as far as post-secondary education access is concerned.

      Ignoring the fact that you apparently think a speech impediment makes someone unworthy of education, this is one of the weirdest and most confusing things you’ve said. Explain the connection between enunciation and education, please.

  3. In the wake of our current crop of unemployed and overeducated young adults, would it be unfair to ask each college to guarantee that a certain percentage of their graduates obtain employment in their respective fields? If not then give at least a partial refund to the students and the taxpayers.

    • would it be unfair to ask each college to guarantee that a certain percentage of their graduates obtain employment in their respective fields?

      I don’t think that’s a good idea. But we certainly need to figure out this whole college thing.

  4. “This is nonsensical to the point of being impossible to address. Are you talking about environmental factors? What does this have to do with muscles?”
    Because as stated, brains are like muscles. With use, certain areas of the brain develop to be stronger where others atrophy with no use. The post talks about genetics and heredity. Not sure, but to me it would make sense that certain “brain strengths” pass on to kids just as certain body strengths or weaknesses do as well. I disagree that academic failure can be predetermined/guaranteed based upon this (as I stated), but to a certain degree it does makes sense.

    “Ignoring the fact that you apparently think a speech impediment makes someone unworthy of education, this is one of the weirdest and most confusing things you’ve said. Explain the connection between enunciation and education, please.
    Haha! “Apparently?” Only a liberal would go there and take that from what I said! That’s how it goes, isn’t it – that if we don’t specifically mention someone poor or disadvantaged, then we must not care about them or want to include them?! Disgusting, especially when the poor and the sick are so always first on the mind for you liberals, right?! 😉

    As for the connection between enunciation and education, the connection seems pretty clear. The only “weird and confusing” thing might be some political correctness or something else getting in the way. For instance:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaxECcTjCuw]
    Pretty safe bet that this woman’s education level is low, isn’t it? Or are you going to get all pc here and tell me that it’s “unfair” to assume that her IQ points are in the single digits?

    A weak example, I know, but I figured you had the “you’re a racist!” card on deck after I “apparently” discriminated against people with speech impediments. 🙂 How about this, then?

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX1-FgkfWo8]
    Wow – teaching kids how to read, write, and SPEAK proper English vs. teaching them Ebonics. The result? Higher scores, higher education. Or, in your opinion is this African-American principal and her Asian-American teacher “whitewashing them”? Surely they see proper English in written AND oral to be beneficial to further education? The video in fact states that very thing. “Weird and confusing”? Not to the kids, me, or the teachers.

    Or let’s go the other way. I bring you the rapper Affion Crockett, and his rap titled, “Enunciation” from the website “Rap Genius”: (http://rapgenius.com/Affion-crockett-enunciation-lyrics#lyric)

    Genius? Let’s see…
    ——
    [First Verse]
    Folk don’t understand me, I don’t understand that,
    Do you understand that, I didn’t really plan that,
    I talk it, I live it, froggy ribbit, I ain’t pass English
    Didn’t get a hunna (100), a-b, c-d, e-f, g-h, i-jay-k elemenuh,
    P q are elementaree, I can’t even count to ten, so tell a friend,
    So tell a friend to tell not a friend to don’t tell a friend,
    That my mouth is in the same skin as Uncle Ben.

    [Hook]

    Stop stressing me about enunciation.
    What the hell is enunciation?
    What the big ol’ sensation?
    Street was my education.
    I try to say, I try to say it, I try to say it.
    Stressing me about enunciation.
    What the hell is enunciation?

    My mama told me I ain’t have to say it
    I’m Ike Turner I am the man
    I’ll beat it up, I’ll beat it down
    Tina Turner, eat it now!

    —–
    Didn’t getta hunna, can’t even count to ten. Froggy ribbit he ain’t pass English!
    Poor enunciation, low education, see?

    Or lastly, this video where the woman clearly states how teaching kids poor command of the English language is “dumbing them down even worse”:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leau1eGZW7Q]

    Note in her other videos how she was “constantly going to the library, reading on the Internet, etc.”, and then note how clearly she says these things.

    So yes, like how Freakonomics showed that poor spelling of names indicated poverty levels, I believe enunciation/pronunciation can be a clear indication of who’s “college material” and who isn’t. To me, choosing a bastardized version of English that is slurred or mumbled as one’s choice of first language and using it in a formal setting is a clear indication of their education level, and more importantly, shows me exactly where they want to end up – in the same trash ghetto they came from.

    Who cares if they started there, it’s where they’ll end up that matters and on that basis I would say most financial aid to people who make these language choices regarding their first language would be a waste.

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