FINAL DRAFT of Financial aid at Georgia Tech should be primarily need-based rather than merit-based. -ngh3bfkf #3
FINAL DRAFT PolicyPaper
A recent study conducted by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid reported that every year almost 400,000 academically qualified students of low-income families do not go to college (St. John 103). Academically qualified meaning their grades in high school and scores on standardized tests are good enough for them to be admitted into a college or university. The Georgia Institute of Technology reported that its undergraduates demonstrate a need of over $42 million annually, $12 million of which goes unmet each year. While merit-based scholarships, where a student's ability to pay for their own education is not a factor in determining if they receive the scholarship, play a very important role in the development of a school such as Georgia Tech, need-based scholarships should not be neglected. In recent years, need-based scholarships have been on the decline not only in Georgia, but throughout the United States. Georgia Tech realizes the importance of these need-based scholarships and acknowledges that change is in order if it is to remain accessible to all deserving students.
Without an in depth analysis of need-based scholarships, it can be easy to overlook some of the benefits they can provide to society. One factor to consider is the fact that more need-based scholarships could play a major role in decreasing alcohol and drug use among high school students. Many high school students coming from low-income families may feel that they cannot afford college unless they are academically in the top of their class and qualify for merit-based scholarships. While some people would consider this an incentive to try harder, many students feel a sense of hopelessness that can lead to drinking and drug abuse. If more need-based scholarships are offered, it will give these students hope because they will know that they can afford college if they get accepted. It should also be pointed out that a lack of need-based scholarships can ultimately lead to higher unemployment or a less educated workforce because of the number of students that give up hope in going to college after seeing they can’t afford it. Some of the likely effects of higher unemployment on society include increased poverty, crime, and political instability. With increased poverty, the demand for need-based scholarships will only grow.
Next I would like to point out some of the downfalls of merit-based scholarships. It is no secret that schools vary in quality throughout different demographical segments, even within the same county many times. Schools in poor areas have fewer resources than those in middle or high-income areas. This makes it difficult for even smart students in poorer areas to obtain an adequate education. Therefore, students coming from lower-income schools are less likely to score as well on the SAT, a deciding factor in awarding many merit-based scholarships. For this reason, Georgia Tech should make it a priority to provide equal opportunity to students who had less opportunity in high school by offering more need-based scholarships. It is important to note that the purpose of this paper is to promote equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. Equality of outcome, meaning an equal number of students from low-income and high-income families would be admitted, could lead to degradation in the quality of students at Georgia Tech. Equal opportunity, which can be implemented by offering more need-based scholarships, would simply mean an equal number of students from low-income and high-income families could afford to attend Georgia Tech if they were accepted. Recent research conducted by Indiana University shows that these students from lower-income families can perform at a rate very similar to other students when given the chance (St. John 121).
Another glaring problem merit-based scholarships cause is competition between colleges for top students. Not only is it a problem for low-income students, but also for some institutions themselves. In recent times, an increasing number of colleges feel a need to increase the amount of money awarded to top high school students in order to entice them into attending their institution. The overall goal in doing this is to increase the college’s standings in national rankings. James Monks of M.I.T.’s Consortium on Financing Higher Education recently said, “financial aid is no longer viewed as a charitable means of admitting a ‘poor scholar,’ but rather as a price discount to which an applicant is entitled and which is subject to negotiating and bargaining” (Seaman 2). Professor Gordon Winston of Williams College, noting that most colleges' financial aid money comes from private donors, complains that "we are being pressured to use money we got as charity to compete like car dealers. The winners are the highly placed, high-income kids" (Seaman 3). Ronald Ehrenberg of Cornell believes the losers will be "the low-income kids, those not at the top academically, and students who do not have as much information on how to play the game" (Seaman 3). As mentioned before, some institutions themselves suffer from this competition for top high school students. Large institutions that have a lot of money are able to entice the best applicants with exorbitant merit-based scholarships. Schools with less money can be forced to accept students that are not as well qualified or spend scarce money that would be better spent on faculty salaries, scholarships for the needy, or other necessities of the institution. Robert Massa of Pennsylvania's Dickinson College believes the merit-scholarship bidding "benefits colleges because we get our numbers. But if as a result we're not able to build new buildings or pay professors, it will cost us our future" (Seaman 3). America's higher-education system is valued because it is one of the most diversified in the world. It offers an extensive list of choices ranging from small religious colleges to large research institutions such as Georgia Tech, and as competition continues to increase between colleges that diversity may suffer. This issue affects students and colleges throughout the United States, and it can therefore not be prevented by the actions of Georgia Tech alone. However, with its size and prestige, Georgia Tech does have the power to play a major role in influencing other colleges and public policy of the United States as a whole.
One final way Georgia Tech could benefit from offering more need-based scholarships arises from a problem with the HOPE scholarship. In Georgia, HOPE scholarships are available to in-state students who maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their college careers. However, because of Georgia Tech’s rigorous curriculum, many talented students lose HOPE eligibility with two or more years of college left to finance. The loss of HOPE can force students to take on extra part-time jobs, leaving less time for academic work and possibly causing their grades to slip even more. Excellent students should not have to look elsewhere if they are ineligible for or lose the HOPE scholarship. Therefore, it would be beneficial for Georgia Tech to have a program that offers need-based scholarships to its students that do not receive HOPE.
Merit-based scholarships are often awarded to students who would have attended college regardless of any scholarships or to students whose parents can easily afford the tuition. While they do play a very important role in the development of an institution such as Georgia Tech and should definitely be awarded to high achievers for their hard work, need-based scholarships should not be neglected and should actually be the primary source of financial aid at Georgia Tech.
Evaluation: LOPHILLI -
First off, I want to say that you placed your quotes at very strategic locations which helps to make your argument more concrete. I definitely like that. I also like the way you opened up your paper with the quote, it is a nice attention grabber.
I do think you should add a sentence or two describing what they mean by saying academically qualified. An individual who is qualifies to go to Georgia State may not be qualified to go to Georgia Tech. In addition to this, your paper seems to involve all schools in the nation and not just Georgia Tech. I am not sure if you wanted it that way or not but I just wanted to point that out.
I like the points that you make about HOPE and need based and merit based scholarships. I do think the paper would just flow better if you just referenced those things in the beginning paragraph so the reader is aware of what you are going to talk about
I am not sure the need-based argument of preventing people from drinking is a very strong argument. I do like the point that it would decrease unemployment, and just as a suggestion, I would say to probably focus on making that particular point come across more than the other one.
I strongly agree that SAT's should not be a large factor of issuing merit based scholarships because it does not tell you the amount of hard-work and persistence you will put into a class to get a good grade, it just tells you whether or not you can take a national standardized test. It can only tell you so much. It could show how smart someone is but not how un-smart some one- I know it is kind of weird.
For clarification I think you should describe what you mean by priority when you make this statement, "Tech should make it a priority to provide equal opportunity to students". Priority in terms of what and equal opportunity in terms of what. So the students with Higher SAT's or from medium or high income backgrounds should be on the waiting list - Just another way to look at the situation. Also on the flip side of things once again if a student does well but their parents are "well-off" Should their parents have to pay for their education. Also what defines a person as being "well-off" and are those descriptions accurate.
Altogether I think your paper will be great!!! :-). I think if you give your paper a little more focus and think of those counter arguments I think you will do quite well.