Revamp Financial Aid

Financial Aid is an important program that allows students who would not normally be able to afford upwards of $40,000 per year for education to attend the College, and prevents Woosterís student body from becoming homogenous in their life experiences. From talking to fellow students, I have realized that Wooster does fairly well distributing financial aid throughout its student body, creating an affordable education for its students no matter their monetary condition. Despite this, a few of the policies of the Financial Aid Program here at Wooster are questionable.

The first downside is Woosterís policy of not factoring in the cost of living of an area where the student lives into the amount of financial aid that said student qualifies for. From what I understand, the policy is the result of Woosterís opinion that living in an area with an elevated cost of living is a personal choice of the way a familyís income is allocated ó i.e. money could be saved by moving to a less expensive area. While this holds true on occasion, people usually live in higher cost of living areas because of better education systems, and/or to live closer to their places of work.

By moving out of the higher cost of living neighborhood, they acquire new expenses such as alternative schooling. Additionally, this often causes a longer commute, which usurps some of the saved money. On a non-financial note, this also adds stress from a longer commute, and occupying additional time. On top of that, the state of todayís housing market may make moving hardly possible and highly impractical for families who have purchased a home. So while it is all good and easy to say that people living in expensive areas should just move, this is not as simple an option as it would appear.

The second main flaw that I have uncovered in the Financial Aid system is the protocol that the amount of aid a student receives each year is unclear. Students donít find out until they actually begin the year that it would have been more cost-efficient to transer. This is not to say that I think that everyone should be guaranteed a set financial aid for all four years unconditionally; quite the contrary, I think it is important for students to strive to keep their positions in this College. I also understand that the aid that the College extends to its students cannot be invariably fixed because it has to adjust from year to year, depending on the budget of the school and other extenuating circumstances.

However those students who are receiving aid that the school is not going to extend in future years, such as families who receive aid as a result of multiple children attending college simultaneously, should be advised clearly that they will not be receiving as much aid from the school in subsequent years, before they choose to enroll in the school. Just because FAFSA determines that a family can afford a certain amount doesnít make it necessarily true. A student should be aware of the cost of the school-based on the aid that they will or will not receive each year, so that they may choose to enroll in a school where they can afford to stay for all four years.