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College Costs And Aid- Where's It Going?
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The US Congress is working on some proposals this week to lower the cost of student loans. The White House opposes the changes, and supports instead directing the funds to increase grants to low income students.

In recent articles on college costs, Star Tribune reporters interviewed a high school teacher in a south suburb, and he complained about the lack of government support for college students. He expressed the view that education "was becoming something for the rich". I don't understand his view.

Yes, the children of the rich have never had a problem financing college, and never will. Hey, they're rich. But frankly, I don't see a big problem for the poor, either. It's the kids of the middle and upper middle classes that get hosed.

I did a fair amount of research on financial aid last year for my kid. For the vast majority of scholarships and grants available, and even subsidized loans, financial need was a prerequisite- one that would knock out a lot of middle class families. High academic achievement meant diddley. After doing the Family Financial Statement, I was informed that my expected contribution to annual college expenses was to be NEARLY 50% OF MY TAXABLE INCOME. For one kid. In other words, they were eligible for no grants, and no subsidized loans whatsoever. Under that set of facts, the ONLY people eligible for financial aid I could see were lower middle and low income people. To say that financial support excludes the poor is ridiculous. There are also many grants and scholarships exclusively awarded to racial minorities, and not available to anyone else.

I sure feel like a schmuck for telling my kids to work hard and get good grades in high school so that they would qualify for a college scholarship, 'cause that just ain't happening.

As for the middles and uppers, it's a mixed bag. As said before, forget grants and scholarships for most, unless they win some essay contest or do public service like Mother Teresa. So it comes down to work and unsubsidized student and parent loans. Frankly, of four college students I know personally, not a one of them has worked hard or saved anything substantial toward their college expenses. They will graduate with a big load of debt, or their parents will carry it.

I don't know what the final answer should be. When I went to college, cheap loans and grants were handed out like candy bars. Maybe we need some creative ideas, like dedicated lottery tickets or something that doesn't hit the taxpayer. Any way you cut it, the current situation isn't working, and I don't envy the kid that graduates to a low paying job with the cost of a Mercedes Benz around their neck in a student loan. Bad way to start a career, for sure.

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