The Financial Aid Reality
By Jennifer Rozansky
“Debt is reality,” said Christina Bennett, the director of financial aid at Marymount Manhattan College. Bennett previously worked at St. John’s University for 18 years and has now been with Marymount for 16 months. College debt can be the biggest stress in a college student’s life, bigger than the schoolwork or living situations.
According to Bennett, financial aid and grants are given to students who on paper demonstrate basic financial need. But, what may that consider? Different students have different situations.
Te U.S. Department of Education will provide more than $78 billion this year, about 60 percent of all student aid, to help millions of students and families pay for postsecondary education. So, it comes down to the fact of who is at most need for this money.
Theresa Lupia is a current student at Hunter College who receives full financial aid based on her single mother’s income. She says, “although many things are covered by my financial aid, it is still a stress to wonder if I am going to receive money because, neither my job, nor my mother’s job will cover half of my financial needs for school.”
This statement went along with what Bennett said when asked about some stresses she has seen with students who receive financial aid. “Students who receive financial aid have to meet deadlines, fill out forms, and if they are allowed a work study program, they have to find a job that fits their schedule.”
A big problem the school may have as well is that they send a lot of material to the student that will not always give the information to the parents, and then the parents are left out of the loop. When the parents are left out, the situation then becomes stressful on everyone.
Patti and Eddie Franke are parents of a child who receives financial aid and they say it is nice to know that their daughter is receiving her full education, although she is a parent herself, they say that is nice she can still get her education and be able to take care of her daughter at the same time.
Diana DiPonio is a college graduate who received no financial aid because of her father’s income. Unfortunately, in her situation, every time it came time to pay for her college tuition and her bills were due, her brother would need financial help so her father would help her brother and not her, leaving her to pay her own way up front with no time to apply for loans. She said, “because of my situation it made me work harder on my grades and all around just to prove myself.”
Bennett said that the stresses she sees in students who do not receive financial aid are the need to apply for loans, and if you’re denied a loan, then there are even more problems. In DiPonio’s case, it was almost the same situation, she just did not have enough time to apply, which was much more stressful.
“A lot of students assume that they are receiving free money.” Bennett stated describing some of the misconceptions about financial aid and went on saying, “With financial aid it is not always free money the student has to apply for grants, scholarships, work study, and other types of loans.” She also made a point to discuss how students always comment on how they “need money” which all students will most likely “need money” at some point it is just a matter of how much which is what the FASFA looks at.
Thomas and Joanne Rozansky are parents of a student who does not receive financial aid. They state that, “although sometimes it might be a struggle, it is nice to help our daughter in anyway needed as possible.”
As parents, it is sometimes just as stressful on them as it is on the student, and the student just has to realize that and step back and maybe not get as angry at the parent because it is not as easy as it may seem. No matter what either side of the spectrum may say or assume about the other side college debt is real and stressful on everyone. Hopefully, in time, there might be easier ways to earn scholarships and more helpful ways students can learn how to cope with debt.
Bennett concluded that, “students have to realize education is and investment in themselves like a car or the hottest new clothing they buy,” adding that although students may need money and financial aid, but they need to learn how to save and spend their money wisely. Lupia agrees, “although I do receive financial aid, I have learned to spend and save my money better than I have in the past.”