As Barack Obama is encouraging more college attendance and promoting support of community colleges particularly, there is something that needs to be understood as we pursue giving financial aid to poor and lower middle class students who have financial difficulties that often prevent the concept of college attendance.
We always hear that many students are unable to afford low cost community college tuition and fees, and to buy books and other supplies. But I think it is not acknowledged that it is often a question of priorities as to what one can afford when beginning college!
As a community college professor, I have seen many students who seem to be able to afford a fancy car, have a constantly used cell phone, and do not deny themselves tobacco and liquor, and insist that entertainment and fun are more important than education!
It is a fact that the present system of financing discriminates against middle class college students who must borrow thousands of dollars in loans, while the lower middle class and the poor are subsidized up to around $10,000 per year, and often more, to attend college, with the middle class taxpayer footing the bill!
If all students understood that their education is being funded for the purpose of education, and not just collecting money by being “marginal” students, then there would be no problem with supporting their education with taxpayer money! But many students, I have observed, have no intention of gaining a degree, and are just cheating the system and collecting money without achieving results!
At the danger of NOT seeming to be “progressive” or “liberal”, I propose changes in the education funding law as follows!
If any student who is unable to afford college wishes to get taxpayer aid, my suggestion is to do what many other students past and present have done–sacrifice pleasure and materialistic goods and lay out two courses tuition cost. Then really work hard and achieve a grade of C, B, or A and get paid for your efforts! If one chooses not to attend class regularly and fails to study or do work required in the course, and gains a D, F, or W, he or she would not get reimbursed! One gets rewarded for accomplishment, not economic status!
The system, as it is now constituted, encourages absences, failure to do any work, just show up enough to beat the system, and to cheat taxpayers, with many students knowing full well they have no real goal to achieve success! With so many F’s, D’s, and W’s, the whole student financing system is wasting billions of dollars on students who just wish to exploit it for financial gain, not for educational and occupational goals!
If students understood the purpose of attending college, they and the country would be the better for it! And if they have no intention of having the work ethic, then they should be shown the door and made to understand there are no “free rides”! You want opportunity, prove your willingness to work, and sacrifice for your future!