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How Colleges Are Selling Out the Poor to Court the Rich (Atlantic)

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Replies to: How Colleges Are Selling Out the Poor to Court the Rich (Atlantic)

  • xiggixiggi 148 replies9 discussions Junior Member
    Quoting a friend:
    Simmons didn't stay around to see the implementation of SAT-optional polices which, coupled with new recruitment efforts, resulted in the early 2000s of Smith having the largest percentage of Pell grant recipients of any prestige private liberal arts college in the country. It required a very large financial commitment on the part of the college. So the SAT-optional policy has to be seen in this larger context.

    and
    Smith has the highest percentage of Pell Grant recipients of any high-ranking liberal arts college in the country. For the record, Smith College has had no problem finding, recruiting, accepting, and graduating academically talented Pell Grant students. But they are committed to spending a lot of MONEY to do it

    What is good or bad seems to vary from time to time. One day, one brags about a private school leading the country in Pell grantees. The next that private schools should not be able to offset the expenses of its enrolled students through federal financial aid.

    Is the conclusion that the small private --and very conservative school-- that refuses the largesse of the government has it ... right?

    Is making it more difficult to the selective private school to increase the number of lower SES students really what the doctor ordered? The toniest private K-12 do not find too hard to recruit candidates, and are quite happy to be able to forego dealing with public funding. Do we think that hitting the rich school in their wallet would hurt them or ... the few that are able to break the vicious circles of low SES?
    edited May 2013
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  • poetgrlpoetgrl 192 replies2 discussions Junior Member
    I don't think that spending the federal and state funds on the state institutions will end up hurting the best privates. The best privates will find ways to fund the talented lower SES students, themselves.
    edited May 2013
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  • BayBay 41 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    Just curious, isn't the statistic on Pell grant recipients the only way to know the number of low-income students at private colleges (absent the colleges themselves reporting that number)? If Pell grants go away at private colleges, will we be able to know whether any low-income students are getting in/going to private colleges at all? If not, should we care?
    edited May 2013
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 252 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    I was going to write the same thing that Poetgrl did. Though I was going to use the word "financially strongest" instead of "best". It may be that we are coming to the time when a lot of the pricy privates that have been discounting heavily and sending a lot of their students' family's to borrow to meet their overpriced for their students market, are going to have to bit some pretty tough bullets. I thought this would happen a long time ago, and without federal guarantee of student loans, it would have happened a lot sooner. Situations such as a parent AND student shackled to the ankles with $100K in student loan debt would not have happened as often, if that were the case, and no sane lender without the federal udder just bursting at the teat would have given many of these families the funds for such venture. They simply were not worth the money. Easy credit has done this.

    And, yes, PELL is the only reliable way of telling how many truly "poor" kids go to college. But, we don't check out private high schools and what % of students they take to diversify family economics. I think those students who bring something to the school that the school most wants will get merit money, be it academic prowess, usually measured by test scores, some special EC the school has pride in doing well, and geographic,ethnic, and situational diversity. Yes, when no one is watching, there will be a dip in areas where a school can "skim". But I think programs on the state levels can make up for this and be even more inclusive.
    edited May 2013
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  • poetgrlpoetgrl 192 replies2 discussions Junior Member
    Yes, Cpt, financially strongest is a better way of saying that. I agree.
    edited May 2013
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  • kmrcollegekmrcollege 5 replies0 discussions
    One thing I don't understand about this story, which I think is really a non-story, isn't the amount of money allocated to "financial aid" far greater than that allocated for "merit aid"? I think the author of the story is attaching too much import to a shift of a few percentages from one targeted group to another. Not exactly "selling out".
    edited May 2013
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 252 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    Kmrcollege, it depends upon the college. For those colleges that are the strongest financially, that are need blind in admissions AND meet 100% of need, the situation usually is that there is little or no merit money. Though, still, half the schools that make the top 25 in the US News & World Report rankings, have merit awards.

    And there are more than 3500 colleges and universities in the US. Of those, most do only give out financial aid, and that aid is often just governement aid. Not much in terms of college money, and I have know idea whether that is need or merit based over all.

    But a lot of schools that give out institutional awards, even in terms of financial aid, have enrollment management and policies in place so that they get the most bang out of the buck. Giving 10 kids full need because their need averages out to $5K a piece which is hardly need, is a lot better use of $50K than spending it all on a kid with a $50K+ need, and not even meeting 100% of that family's need. You get the $50K plus from each of those 10 kids who sigh on to come to the school, so the school still get 90% of the sticker price met from each of the comers, plus it looks good on the common data stats that they fulfilled 100% of the need of those kids. So just because a school is giving out more financial aid than merit does not mean that it is going to the neediest. The terms "poor" and "rich" are relative. Two families can both qualify for need but the one with the zero EFC is often in a whole other financial class than the one with a $55K EFC. Both would qualify for need at a $60K COA school.
    edited May 2013
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  • eyemgheyemgh 53 replies1 discussions
    GMT said:
    What income level do you define as "rich", i.e. the folk you believe should not be eligible for any type of discount no matter how brilliant they are.

    GMT, I'm not saying there is "a number," simply that the justification for granting aid to families who can't pay full price and/or to URMs is to prevent homogeneity within the student body. I'm not advocating that it is either right or wrong, just stating the means of how institutions can justify the practice.

    I see discounting for those with high EFCs as simply bringing institutions into line of their true PERCEIVED market value. For example, it seems as though market forces are saying that Santa Clara University and Stanford are not both "worth" $40k in tuition, even though they both charge $40k in tuition. SCU has to offer merit to fill while Stanford does not. This may or may not reflect REAL value. It's up to each consumer to decide.
    edited May 2013
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  • eyemgheyemgh 53 replies1 discussions
    But a lot of schools that give out institutional awards, even in terms of financial aid, have enrollment management and policies in place so that they get the most bang out of the buck. Giving 10 kids full need because their need averages out to $5K a piece which is hardly need, is a lot better use of $50K than spending it all on a kid with a $50K+ need, and not even meeting 100% of that family's need. You get the $50K plus from each of those 10 kids who sigh on to come to the school, so the school still get 90% of the sticker price met from each of the comers, plus it looks good on the common data stats that they fulfilled 100% of the need of those kids. So just because a school is giving out more financial aid than merit does not mean that it is going to the neediest. The terms "poor" and "rich" are relative. Two families can both qualify for need but the one with the zero EFC is often in a whole other financial class than the one with a $55K EFC. Both would qualify for need at a $60K COA school.

    So well said, cptofbthehouse. The reality of merit aid is that now days, it's primarily a business decision. Be it to stabilize margin as stated above or to simply buy test scores.
    edited May 2013
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  • xiggixiggi 148 replies9 discussions Junior Member
    And, yes, PELL is the only reliable way of telling how many truly "poor" kids go to college.

    It offers a reliable statistical tool, but not necessarily a reliable one for "truly poor" kids, as the verification process is neither well developed nor immune to whimsical self reporting. You might want to see some of the reactions to the reports of the financial aid that the Boston Bombers were able to accumulate. In communities with high level of small family-owned and cash-based businesses, the reporting of income can be an exercise in musical chairs among the family members in need of documentation for FAFSA.

    Or take a look at the UC high incidence of reported Pell grantees.
    edited May 2013
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 252 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    Xiggi, I agree. A personal friend of mine had two kids go through college on zero EFCs, full PELLs, Seog, Subsidized loans and some state grants as well, when her ex was a millionaire, literally. FAFSA allows this.

    I did see the UC high incidence of PELL grantees and wondered about that too. And, of course, we know that some schools got caught with their pants down on some other reporting of stats.

    But that's as close as we can get.
    edited May 2013
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  • xiggixiggi 148 replies9 discussions Junior Member
    I agree with Mini. I see no long term, widespread benefit to society to continue to put pell and sub loan money into the privates. Let them figure out how to subsidize their poorer students.

    Take the money and put it into the publics. Make all publics the same cost as pell for those who are pell eligible.

    Let's use some common sense for a change.

    Is there some common sense that would compel one to analyze how the percentage of Pell versus COA at those public schools has changed over the past couple of decades?

    Should common sense place on in the shoes of student who qualifies for a Pell and a SEOG and evaluates his or her NET costs at Public University versus a private school that is meets the demonstrated need fully. Especially when meeting the need without loans.

    How much common sense is there to penalize the group of students that stands the better chances to emerge from cycles of poverty any more than they already are?

    And for what, may I ask? To further fuel the wasting appetites of the public schools that have shown a stunning ineptitude in matching income and expenses? The same schools that have demonstrated a stunning ability to spend beyond their means and let the inflation of their own expenses to slowly price themselves out the reach of many families and students, and throw them into the hands of ... lenders?

    If there was some common sense at play, it will look into the other direction, namely to attack the funding mechanisms of the K-12, and analyze how allowing public funds to follow the ... student might save our education from itself.

    The reality is that the rich schools have the ability to fully fund the poorest. That is what billions of private and generous citizens helped accomplish. They will not suffer from digging deeper in their dedicated endowments. But by reversing the trends, they might simply become more judicious and their choices, and abandon their need blind policies, and reduce the number of students who happen to need a LOT of funding.

    How many example of necking the strong and rich via government intervention do you know that ended up helping the masses?
    edited May 2013
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  • poetgrlpoetgrl 192 replies2 discussions Junior Member
    There are no need blind policies. And, with the exception of very, very few schools which accept less than 10% of applicants, there are no no loan schools. Additionally, when a "meets full need" school uses CSS, the numbers they arrive at vary wildly.

    A kid with decent grades and a good enough SAT score really ought to be able to get an affordable college education.
    edited May 2013
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  • xiggixiggi 148 replies9 discussions Junior Member
    Not sure how that is relevant to my post.

    Are "affordable" schools better for the student than a zero cost education. Is someone better off to spend 16,000 a year at UT than zero at Yale? Better off with graduating with 60,000 of debt after saving every penny as opposed to graduate debt free? Or do we assume that merit aid is plentiful for those exact type of students?

    If there are a so few schools, why bother in the first place. How much money would be saved from the federal coffers to remove the Pell or SEOG funding from say Harvard or Penn? And should we then compare how those savings compare to the huge federal funding of ... research, at both privates and the massive academic factories.

    Or are we talking to help a kid make the right decision to spend "his" Pell grant at Penn or at PSU? Do we really need to grab a bit from the Pell budgets at Penn and send to Happy Valley? And, again for what exactly? To help them build more Paterno-like empire? To show how fiscally sound the school is when doling out salaries and severance to individuals like Spanier? How many Pell students do you fund for each Spanier?

    Frankly, I do not understand any of this. We lament to so few disadvantage kids find a way to seize the opportunities offered to them, and how few break the cycles of poverty and under-education. We have a public school system that is mostly failing the truly impoverished, and we want to make it MORE difficult for them?

    And, this based, on the misguided and ineffective model of public education ... at all costs. Pfft!
    edited May 2013
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  • poetgrlpoetgrl 192 replies2 discussions Junior Member
    I have no interest whatsoever in "getting" pell recipients to spend "wisely."

    What I do have is the number of loans being doled out to poor students in order to give financial aid to the schools.

    Given the tiny percentage of pell recipients who even get into or attend the no loan schools, you could probably number them in the thousands every year. I highly doubt these schools would stop accepting the pell eligible just because the pell wasn't Good there.

    What ARE the number of no loan schools, xiggi?

    The math isn't working for the majority of qualified low income students. The elite low income students will do just fine.
    edited May 2013
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