College Affordability and who is it for?

This week’s primary theme was the idea of College Affordability and its pragmatic attempts to improve outcomes in higher education. Though much talk has been provided on what reforms educational policy makers should consider, a few from this weeks article stood out to me. The first one was the suggestion that instead of having “individual consumer” financial aid, the institutions would succeed in being responsive to the government, not just the individual (Goldrick-Rab, Schidde, Stampen 2014). In other words redirecting the focus of financial aid to the institutions rather than the student alone. One of the criticisms that the article announced was the misguiding report of the EFC or expected family contribution, in the FAFSA. The faulty mechanism of how the EFC works does not account for many factors in a student’s life (Baum & Ma 2014). I can personally relate to this because I have experienced the weight of this faulty mechanism. My parents made a slight increase in their income and that was enough to offset my entire financial aid this academic year. The reality is that I was not in any way prepared for the impact such a small difference had on my financial aid. So I can personally attest to this criticism of the financial aid.

Another approach to college affordability known as the Shared Responsibility Model (SRM) in which five key components are taken into account: the student, the student’s family, the federal government, the state, and the institution (WICHE 2014). This idea is interesting since it also takes into account the family, in which the Baum and Ma’s piece on affordability applies to students and not parents. I agree more so with the idea of the SRM currently, although I would see completely shifting over to a more state institutional financial aid distribution. I just think that the transition would be very risky and could cause many unforeseen complications. I think a transfer point, for example, from the SRM to the state aid distribution method could help avoid any major issues.

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