500 Words At A Time: Financial Aid

I have yet to have an issue with the people working in the financial aid office. I state this upfront because financial aid is a major necessary pain in the ass that will cause you undue stress and concern.

Do you have enough financial aid to cover the cost of your classes? Notice I did not say tuition.

Do you have enough financial aid to cover expenses not related to your classes?

Will your degree allow you to pay off any debt incurred from financial aid?

Ignoring the obvious, that college is too expensive (especially at colleges like Ferris…another 500 Words), saddles too many students with a lifelong financial burden (myself included), and despite the “need” to have a degree there are plenty of people and careers where a degree is not necesary, here are something’s to think about. I know I have had to think about them.

The amount of financial aid offered is variable and the final amount offered and accepted by you is also variable, regardless of your actual need. The thought seems to be that 12 credit hours is full time and normal. Sure, if I was a right out of high school student with no family. I have a family. I do not have time for 12 credit hours, thus I took less. Taking less reduces the amount of financial aid you get, even if you accepted more. What? Read on…

Cost of tuition is different than cost of classes. Tuition is the calculation of year of student x credit hours of the class. This, at least here at Ferris, is an escalating calculation; i.e. a sophomore pays a little less than a senior. The cost of a class is all of the extra stuff that goes along with a class, such as books, special equipment, and lab or computer fees. The extra stuff is NOT included in your bill and NOT in any descriptions for the most part. But you will have to pay for them.

After tuition, books will be your number one expense. You will always be pissed off about the price you pay to purchase or rent a book. The cost is NEVER related to the use of the book or what you get out of the book. Unless you have a real reason to purchase a book ALWAYS rent and rent from sources other than the college bookstore or in town bookstore, both charge A LOT more than other places, such as Amazon.

Fees and more fees! Tuition and other stuff are not the only consumers of your valuable financial aid, there are fees. Fees just like the phone company and bank charge. Student government fee, even though the student government has done nothing for me. Health care fee, that one I suggest you keep, you never know when you need to use on campus health care. Racquet center fee, which is separate from the recreation center and I have never used either here. Each of these fees in another bite out of your financial aid.

Then there is the percentage off the top that the school takes. Yes, the school takes a percentage off the top even though they are getting the money from classes and stuff. Don’t forget all of the other stuff you will need…

Parking permit or money for parking. Money for food while you are on campus or to and from campus. Money for transportation, taking the bus or paying for gas. What, these aren’t related to school and shouldn’t be covered under financial aid? BULLSHIT! Without money for parking or transportation I cannot get to the classes I am being charged for. Without money for food, I will starve.

Financial aid, for students, covers a lot more than just tuition. In fact, tuition while being the largest single number on a bill other than housing, yes we pay “semester rent” around $4500, is actually the smallest bill for a semester. When you add up everything else it becomes more expensive, yet technically not covered by financial aid. Oh, it is included on many forms, but not taken in direct account.

Is it any wonder why students end up with a mountain of financial aid debt. Ignore that many degrees will never allow a student to pay off the debt, even those that do, such as pharmacy come with YEARS of debt built up out of tuition and other stuff. On the plus side…wait there doesn’t seem to be much of one.

 

 

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