By Angela Hernandez
Along with the money won from the scholarships and granted to me from financial aid, I still have to work 30-plus hours a week in order to make ends meet paying for school.
Paying for school is a hassle and I am grateful there is some form of financial aid to help people pursue their higher education. But I do believe there can b e some improvements.
First off, FASFA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – thinks all the money in your household is going completely towards a college education. If a student lives at home with their parents, the government thinks a family doesn’t have bills to pay and mouths to feed.
There are so many middle-class families struggling to send their kids to college. I really hope one day that changes.
While at work, and trying to pay for my education, I see lots of Alamo Community College students using their financial aid money to purchase food.
On break I brought it up with a fellow cashier, who attends a community college. She told me the money she was awarded from financial aid was more than what she needed to pay for her academic semester.
I stared at her, wide-eyed and said, “ ‘What do you mean you have money left over from financial aid?!’ ”
She went on to explain community colleges are doing a great job of providing affordable education, so good that her whole tuition bill was paid off. She also went on to tell me the money gets wiped from her account after the semester, so she pulls all the money out at once to use it on other important things, such as buying the new iPhone, shopping at the mall and of course food.
My jaw dropped. I would never dream of having money left over from financial aid. Let alone using that extra money on trivial things such as a new phone and clothes. I had never heard of that. Sure, once I got a small refund from the Business Office left over from my hard work of applying for scholarships. That refund was $50, which went back to food and gas.
Why should I be punished for going to the school of my dreams? Sure I made the conscious decision to go to a private school, but I think if a student wants to go to a more expensive school that will provide the education they want and need, then he or she should be awarded a greater amount of financial aid.
I went on with the rest of my day very bothered by this news. I have met people from all walks of life since attending a private university. I have met people who are well-off and still use their money for school in a practical way, as well as people who work their butts off each weekend and between classes to just barely make their tuition payment in time to register for class. There are athletes who have to prove themselves in class and in their sport to get financial aid.
I think there should be ways for these people who are abusing their financial aid money to get a correct portion to pay for school and other school-related expenses. With the money left over, more students can get an increase in aid to help take the burden off juggling school and work.
I want to make it clear I am not saying people who go to community college deserve less financial aid because they are not attending a major university. I just want the money they are spending senselessly to be distributed evenly, so everyone pursing their higher education can have their schooling paid off.
E-mail Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org