[Each semester a number of students are bounced from my classes because of delays in processing their financial applications for assistance. I try to reinclude them in my classes, although the result is a heavy burden of overtallies in most. I explain to my students that expenses for any and all — wars, our new library, whatever — are being front loaded onto their futures by current political and corporate interest groups. The article below is from today’s Columbia Spectator. Our privates are really laying things on students who must often spend decades paying off college loans and are too often deterred from public service careers by these burdens. Only in America. Interestingly a number of students well qualified for the Ivies are entering our CUNY (City University of NY) honors programs now where we fund many of their basic expenses. Recent students of mine have included a Rhodes Scholar, Beinecke, Truman Fellow — none of which to my knowledge has been awarded to Columbia students of late. Other countries see their students as investments in their national futures. Ed Kent]
New York Gets F for College Affordability
Nonprofit Group Releases National Report

By Anastasia Gornick Issue date: 10/9/06 Section: News

As Columbia attempts to address the needs of some of its low-income college students, a nonprofit group released a report last month giving New York State an F for affordability. Measuring Up released its biennial report card on higher education in an effort to provide the public and policymakers with information to improve post-secondary education, according to its Web site. New York wasn’t the only state to receive an F: 43 other states failed Measuring Up’s assessment process.

The State University of New York, which has 64 campuses and runs the largest number of post-secondary public institutions in the state, discredited the numbers. Officials said the data underestimates New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, a grant that is given by the state to low-income New York State residents in order to help pay for a degree. “For that lowest income quintile, 100 percent would be covered [by TAP] aside from the federal aid,” said Dave Henahan, director of media relations for SUNY Systems Administration. Measuring Up’s report gave no state higher then a C- for affordability. The grades are determined by figuring the percentage of family income that is required to pay for college after federal and state aid and comparing those numbers to other schools in the state.

Despite the cost, Measuring Up reported that enrollment in higher education programs in New York has increased steadily for people between the ages of 18 and 24. But for some of the people who are struggling to pay for college, it doesn’t matter whether or not New York should have passed or failed-students are more concerned with making college affordable.

Ellen Elmore is a 24-year-old junior at Hunter College. She is struggling to finish college while working full time, and her family income falls into what Measuring Up classifies as lower-middle-class-below $30,000. Students in this income bracket face a large financial burden, requiring 36 percent of their total family income in order to attend a public four-year university, according to the report. It falls out of the range that would be covered by TAP. Elmore was also ineligible for institutional aid, so she turned to personal loans. “Private loans aren’t something anyone wants to do,” she said. She estimated that her final debt will be around $25,000. “What you get out of it is what you put into it,” she said. “And for people like me who work full time, you can’t be at school 24/7.” She reapplied in February for TAP and is still waiting to hear back, weeks after classes started and tuition was due. Justin Colvin, GS ’08, 24, described his family as below the poverty line. Colvin did receive TAP last year. “$4,000 is pretty good, as I’ve only lived in New a year,” he said. Colvin also receives aid through the General Studies scholarship program.

For many students, college tuition is a financial burden that will be carried long past graduation day. Measuring Up reports that the average debt for college students in 2005 was more than $3,901. Colvin and Elmore will accrue debts higher than that after they graduate, but Colvin stressed that he made sure to work with the system to yield results. He said he made phone calls to all the aid agencies to guarantee that he received the maximum amount of aid. “It worked out for me, but it doesn’t work out for everyone,” he said.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies] http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EndingPoverty http://groups.yahoo.com/group/StudentConcerns

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