Here’s something that makes me hopping mad: parents who refuse to help their children pay for college–and a financial aid system that’s set up in such a way that if parents don’t pay, students fall through the cracks.
And no, I’m not talking about parents who really can’t afford to pay–as the children of these parents will probably be eligible for financial aid. I’m talking about parents who can afford to pay for college–or who can do so with some sacrifice–but refuse to because they don’t feel it is their obligation.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if the federal government, for all practical purposes, didn’t consider parents responsible for a student’s education. If parents don’t consider it their responsibility to pay, then a student has limited ability to pay his or her way. The government’s position is basically this: if the parents won’t pay, why should this be the government’s responsibility? Read about the difficulties students face if their parents won’t pay for college.
And the thing is, it’s gotten so much harder. Before 1992, if a student could demonstrate financial independence and was off his or her parents’ taxes for two years, then this student could be declared a dependent by the financial aid system–and could therefore be eligible for much more financial aid, regardless of his or her parents’ involvement. Currently, you can only be declared an independent if you’re 24, in the military, a ward of the court, or married.
What really makes me angry is when parents refuse to fill out the FAFSA. By refusing to do so, students aren’t eligible for government grants or loans–which can help a student get through college even if the parent won’t pay for what the government says they should. Filling out the FAFSA doesn’t obligate parents to pay a penny–so by not doing so, all they are doing is hurting their kid.
Of course, parents aren’t the only ones to blame here. The fact that education has become so expensive that it’s really difficult for a student to pay his or her own way is a serious problem. Students shouldn’t have to rely on their parents to get a college education, and the government really needs to make education truly affordable for everyone who is qualified. The way things are now, students who aren’t lucky enough to have good family situations are falling through the cracks. That is an injustice that shouldn’t be happening in the United States.