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rough draft by lophilli

Should Georgia Tech distribute primarily merit based or need based financial aid? If we had to pick one over the other which one should be picked? These are some questions I do not think you will ever see answered on the Technique because it so controversial in nature. But I will do what the Technique probably will not do and answer these questions. However, before my argument is made, one point must be made clear. My position on this topic solely pertains to that of Georgia Tech. It is not in relation to every post-secondary institution in the nation. Now that, that has been said we can begin.

Georgia Tech should definitely base primarily all of its financial aid on merit rather than on need. As a school that prides itself on having the best and brightest students and creating “one helluva an engineer” this institution provides certain academic standards. It requires a lot of time, hard work, and diligence reach those standards and to even surpass them and those who do so should be rewarded for their efforts. Distributing various forms of financial aid to these students based primarily on merit would be their reward.

However, a lot of the time these students who do well are punished. Instead of being assisted for doing well, Georgia Tech has to go through a process before any more is given out. First Georgia Tech will look to see if a student’s family makes “too” much money. The test to see if “too” much money is made Tech will look at a student’s EFC (Expected Family Contribution).

From the supplied information and from my own personal experience, I know that the EFC is not always an accurate representation of how much money that particularly family has to put forth towards a son or daughter’s or college education. For instance, a person can own a house in addition to their own and because they have property their EFC automatically goes up dramatically. The EFC does not consider that maybe the $10,000 has just been spent to fix up the house, and the landlord is now been waiting for a tenant for the last three months. Situations like these occur a lot more often than expected and these leave students in a difficult position.

Also, the amount of money your family makes should not be a factor in how much money a school should award to you. If you apply yourself in high school you should be rewarded for your hard work and the same goes for if you apply yourself in college. A good student who is poor or who is rich is still a good student and should not be penalized from the amount of 0’s their parents may have in their bank account.

Now, if you hypothetically, have a low enough EFC, and Georgia Tech by some miracle gives you financial aid, you better be sure not to have too many scholarships come from outside sources. If you do, Georgia Tech will, not only take way what they gave you because they now see that you have more money coming in, but a lot of times they take away even more than that amount you are expecting, leaving you in worst position that what you were in before. Georgia Tech, is then punishing its students for doing well. If you apply yourself and let outside sources know that you apply yourself and get a lot of outside scholarships Georgia Tech will take a great deal of your financial aid away both merit and need. That just isn’t right.

Merit Based scholarship are particularly important to out of state students such as my myself. Although the COA is not as much as other schools it all boils down to how much you have to pay. If student A attend attends a $40,000 a year school where they give you $30,000 in financial aid, all the student is looking at is that they owe $10,000. At Georgia Tech, they often make the point that their cost is so much lower, but if it cost $20,000 year to go to Tech and student B is only receiving $10,000 of financial aid, both student A and B are in the same position. Neither care how much the school cost to go to a year, what they are concerned about is how much they owe each year. So with that being said, when I am doing my best in school and trying to find scholarships to help pay my tuition, I cannot find too many because Georgia Tech will take away some of the money they already issued out to you.

On the subject of tuition, Georgia Tech implements the HOPE scholarship. This scholarship pays for tuition for college as well as other expenses. Its implementation, is one of the few examples of merit-based scholarships that Georgia Tech provides for its thousands of students, and it is only because it is a scholarship that the entire state of Georgia offers to colleges that it is here. History and stipulations of HOPE and how it changes from need and merit based to just merit and why. If HOPE realized the important of merit based scholarships over need, why hasn’t Georgia Tech.

Providing solely merit based scholarship would also provide an increase in productivity. If you knew that would only receive financial aid from Georgia Tech if you did well in school, you would be a lot more focused and take you classes more seriously. So often freshman fall into that slump and then have to work their was uphill to try to compensate for the mistakes that they made. However, if they new that their financial aid is contingent upon making good grades each semester then I think that would take way from some of the people who slack off.

In addition, if Tech was to base it financial aid primarily on merit I think it should be done on the semester by semester basis as well as your entire college career. Lets face it, people are going to mess up but when they start to see the error of their ways and try to make a change, it sometimes seems like there is no point. For example if Student C did relative poorly their first two semesters at Tech and have a GPA of 2.45 and to receive any financial aid you must have at least a 3.0(which is the stipulation for HOPE). Now lets says that students did make some changes and made a 3.5 on the next 2 semesters of their 2nd year. Their G.P.A. would still not be above a 3.0 which means that according to our idea of primarily merit based financial aid and HOPE this student would not receive any funds. This is unfair in that students make mistakes, that is a part of life but their entire professional career should not be affected so greatly from just two semesters of your college education. Therefore, if a primarily all financial aid was merit based I think their should be about half that deal with doing well each semester and the other that deal with doing well for all your semester at Tech. I think this would give students an even greater drive to do well because they know that if they do well this particular semester, they will receive scholarships automatically.

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