Our View: Raising the scholarship ceiling
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 17:02
With bank accounts flat-lining, many students are forced to find an alternative measure to stay alive.
According to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, over 90 percent of ASU students receive some form of financial assistance. This allows the funding they need to attend school, however there are limits to this blank check.
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education has a “Stacking Policy” which mandates that a student’s state funded financial aid cannot exceed their university’s Cost of Attendance.
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined by each university individually and includes tuition/fees, books, room and board and personal living costs.
Unfortunately, once a student receives that estimated amount in scholarships or grants, they are no longer eligible for money from the state.
Currently, an ASU undergraduate student living on-campus cannot accept funding larger than $19,763 per year in the form of state-provided financial aid.
While that sum seems like a large amount, once the student’s required fees are deducted, there is little left for the student to have available to pay their own bills.
Our university encourages participation in clubs, societies, attendance at athletic events and theatric performances, however they simultaneously force some students to find work off campus.
This serves as a two-edged sword for students; either take out more loans, which aren’t included in the ADHE’s stacking policy, or miss out on collegiate events and activities that will bolster their resumes and better prepare them for the real world.
Although the policy was created to safeguard state funding for those who truly need the assistance, the state’s mandated financial cap both helps and hinders students at Arkansas universities. While it is an attempt to ensure students use their scholarships for the correct purposes, it also destroys students’ abilities to be truly active in their education.
It’s clear that this policy does more harm than good.
While the statewide solution isn’t a simple one, changing the policy and allowing more leniencies in financial aid awards; the localized solution is attainable.
The university should allow more tolerance in terms of personal spending.
Currently, for a student living on campus the personal allowance is only $3,917. For graduate students and undergraduates living off-campus, the allowance is $0.
These amounts are unrealistic and several students are forced into work outside of their studies, only to have their homework and school involvement pushed to the side.
In order for a more productive student body and a better learning environment, the university should consider a higher personal expense level and allow their students to truly be just that: Students.
“Our View” is written by the editorial staff. The opinions are not necessarily reflective of the student body, faculty or administration of Arkansas State University.