Needy students deserve more from financial aid

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • October 23, 2014

At issue: Students raise money for their tuition.

Our take: They shouldn’t need to.

It’s no secret that Emerson is an expensive place to be. With its ever-increasing tuition bills, one would imagine that the school would compensate by providing students with more financial aid. After all, Emerson can’t survive by only accepting students that can throw down $60,000 a year without any help. Sadly, Emerson ranks 228th on Forbes’ list of American college affordability. Forbes states that the average grant size at Emerson is $16,000, and the average loan is $7,000. A student with both of these is still faced with a $37,000 yearly bill.

But enough stats. Perhaps the most poignant indicator of our inadequate financial aid system are the measures students have taken to afford Emerson. A handful of students have launched pages on fundraising sites like GoFundMe to ask strangers to help pay their tuition. The fact that students must place their faith in the kindness of internet denizens just to afford school is highly troubling.

And it’s important to remember that this isn’t just an Emerson problem. Across the country, colleges are struggling to come up with enough financial aid for increasingly high tuition costs. Education is the second most popular category on GoFundMe, which correlates with the increasing rift between the average family income and cost of higher education. When students don’t receive financial aid, they must take out loans, which become an incredibly expensive burden upon graduation. Seven in 10 college seniors in 2012 left college with debt, which on average was $29,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Colleges like Emerson should be allocating more money for financial aid to prevent student debt from ever ballooning that high before the cost of college isn’t worth the education obtained.