Gazette Endorses Swat Financial Justice Petition

The Swarthmore Financial Justice petition calling upon the college to open an honest and accessible dialogue about its financial aid policies is a thoughtful document that all members of the Swarthmore community should support. It is a document that exemplifies Swarthmore’s Quaker traditions, calling for greater equality, greater integrity, and more simplicity in the financial aid process.

Although we appreciate the Financial Aid Office’s preliminary response to the petition made today, we hope it will only be a starting point for a larger dialogue. The general explanations provided by Director of Financial Aid Laura Talbot and her office confuse students whose experiences aren’t average.

Families making $80,000 annually who feel their aid package is unfair don’t just want to know that the “average” family with their income pays $6,585. Such a family would rightfully want to know why they pay more than that.

Individual students should have a more comprehensive idea of how their packages are being calculated, and when their packages change, the rationale behind the change should be explained to the student. No student should feel that their package is being pulled out of a black box.

We are also concerned that the reality of Swarthmore’s financial aid policy does not match the school’s rhetoric about meeting “100 percent of a student’s demonstrated need.” When a number of students have felt and are feeling pressure to either take a semester off or to leave the College entirely, Swarthmore’s definition of “need” clearly does not match the “need” perceived by students and their families.

In light of this situation, it is unclear if Swarthmore should to continue using rhetoric claiming to meet all “demonstrated need,” as it can lull students and families into a false sense of security before a package is handed down which the family feels it cannot pay, meaning that the student simply can’t continue their education here at Swarthmore.

The school’s number one priority should be to make sure that students who have already become enmeshed in the Swarthmore community can continue their education here. We hope that ongoing discussions with the College administration can facilitate this goal.


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27 comments

  1. 0
    Q says:

    How about reduce overall tuition/board to $20k a year and then get rid of all financial aid? 🙂 Perhaps it's unrealistic, but I'd like that.

    The whole debate is a good thing in my opinion, but realize that even if "more transparency" is achieved, it won't do anything to increase finaid packages for students, unless it is brought to light that the FAO is doing something shady, which I doubt. More transparency does not equal more money, so for the students who cannot afford to continue their education here, you get the information you want… then what? 🙁

  2. 0
    K says:

    I agree with D. I love Swarthmore and although it isn't "easy" for us to pay full tuition I don't deserve a cent of finaid with the current price…but if it was raised any higher, with 2 younger siblings who -also- won't be getting a cent of financial aid anywhere (one is going to a school much like Swat, and one won't get into schools like Swat but also won't qualify for merit-based scholarships elsewhere), if Swat were any more expensive it would be impossible for me to go here. Yeah, I'm wealthy or at least upper-middle-class by most standards, but even those of us who pay full tuition really couldn't handle significant increases.

  3. 0
    Dougal Sutherland ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    M: This could only possibly work if other schools did it too, and that's not going to happen. As a student who would probably be expected to pay more than the current $40k, I'd have to really be in love with Swat to come here over a very similar education at Amherst or Williams or whatever for $30k less.

  4. 0
    M says:

    Speaking as someone who doesn't get a cent of financial aid (and shouldn't), I think this petition and these discussions are raising a host of important issues.

    Honestly, full-pay students allow Swarthmore to offer more financial aid.

    What I don't get is why the school doesn't raise the price of a Swarthmore education to ~$100,000 a year, and give *much* heavier financial aid. Some families could pay this without too much concern (it might stress the bank, but, as Jim Bock as has said, a Swarthmore education is worth it …) and it could let the school cut prices for even more people.

  5. 0
    whateva ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Although these issues are certainly important, and the display in Parish today was timely and largely well done, this campaign seems to run the risk (perhaps necessary) of becoming a 'we' (those who are on financial aid) versus 'them' (those who receive no financial aid) cause.

    One sign derisively said something like, "there are legacies at Swat who don't deserve to be here… mommy and daddy are paying for their eduction." This sign expresses a purely emotional concern and is an unproductive ad hominem attack. While there are examples to substantiate this author's concerns, there are similar examples that manifest the converse: students on financial aid working significantly less than those paying full tuition.

  6. 0
    Chris Green says:

    Adam makes a good point: complete transparency will never be attained because of the way the world works. However, we can strive for more transparency in two ways:

    1) More general transparency: such as greater detail, if not complete detail, about their formula, and creating a swat-specific calculator that families can use to get a gist of what their aid will be

    2) Greater individual transparency. students and families should be able to know much more about their own personal aid calculation if they ask; I know one case where the FAO would not reveal how much they expected divorced parents to individually contribute, because it would violate the parent's privacy. They continued to refuse even after both parents and the student said they would allow this information to be revealed!

    So, there can be greater transparency both individually and generally.

    Another issue not discussed much in the comments here is that of scholarships for aided students: the way external scholarships are handled by the FAO is quite silly and actually harms the entire Swarthmore community: because many aided students see no return from outside scholarships, they either do not apply for such scholarships in the first place or they do not renew them if they got them. This is true both of myself and of many other aided students with whom I've talked.

    If the FAO were to allow grants to be split 50/50 with aided student's families, the increase in motivated students seeking outside scholarships would almost certainly rise to a point where the FAO and Swarthmore are paying less in financial aid than they are now!

    Let me end with a note that as an aided student, I have personally received great treatment from all the members of the TAO with whom I have interacted, and they have been quite helpful even when I turned turned things in late and screwed other things up. I don't want to diminish at all the fact that the office does a really great job nearly the entire time — we just would like to see that the really great job happens every single time.

  7. 0
    parent2 says:

    Per the above statement by Adam, this basically throws it back at families, who are portrayed as greedy entities trying to rip off Swarthmore, so they can keep their large salaries or investments. However, for many of us, this is not true. We are applying for financial aid and getting rejected under a formula that is not revealed to any except the most inner circle of the FAO director, if that.
    We are not able to see if there are mistakes being made by the FAO, whether there are circumstances we have that will fit into the formula, etc.
    I do not understand the conclusion that the FAO is in the right with no apparent substantiation. Families being portrayed as trying to unfairly milk Swarthmore for every last penny is not productive. Swarthmore has a policy of trying to help students by giving generous financial aid, in fact has developed a "no-loan" policy for FA recipients. However, the FAO expects other families that they seemingly arbitrarily exclude from aid to take out large loans. Who determines who is worthy of "no loans" vs "large loans'? We deserve a lucid and comprehensive answer.
    The FAO changes aid packages significantly over the years for a given student, without a good explanation. Swarthmore basically leaves these important decisions in the hands of one woman with no accountability to her clients, the students.
    Many prospective students, knowing how the FAO here operates, would surely go elsewhere. Is this the spirit of the FAO that Swarthmore wants to project?

  8. 0
    Seth says:

    I would bet that four or five econ majors, if given all the data concerning the college's finances, could draft a sweet proposals for fixing the system. Perhaps we don't follow Stanford/Harvard's example because we don't have as much money, but if those systems produce less unhappiness, and we could do more to mimic them, then that seems like a good idea. But, transparency is key. Some oversight would go a long way; the uncooperative responses on FAO's part emphasize how important accountability is.

  9. 0
    Adam says:

    The secrecy of Swarthmore's financial aid formulas is necessary and will probably never change.

    http://money.aol.com/usnews/general/canvas3/_a/uncovering-the-many-secrets-of-financial/20061005010409990001

    "Colleges typically keep their unique formulas secret to prevent competing schools from outbidding them, to outflank parents who want to game the rules, and to give themselves wiggle room to make exceptions for special cases."

    Of course the article goes on to state that some schools might be "tempted to abuse their information advantage to manipulate students into paying more than they would otherwise." I think that there is no evidence that Swarthmore actually does this, and to posit that it happens at a school with Swarthmore's endowment is to buy into a pretty unlikely conspiracy theory.

    Yes, there are some complaints about aid, but this is true at every single school in the country. Some families are always going to feel like their aid is not enough, whether it is due to bad financial decisions, bad communication of their finances, unfortunate (but necessary to prevent cheating) quirks in the financial aid system, or just a sense of entitlement. Most of these families will take out loans, but some will make the choice to withdraw from Swarthmore. This is definitely not fair for these students, who are not at fault for anything, but it has to occasionally happen at schools that can't afford to give out more than families actually need. Harvard can do it, but Swarthmore just doesn't have a big enough endowment for it.

    I think that the fuss on campus about this issue does indicate that the FAO does have some communication issues, but I think that overall, they are in the right.

  10. 0
    parent2 says:

    I am trying to see if I can post here, as a parent who has a strong opinion about the financial aid office. Our family had unforeseen circumstances during a semester in which we had a Swarthmore student involved. Although our circumstances were vastly altered for the worse, we were told by Ms Talbott that the type of events "did not fit into the financial aid formula" and so they would not consider financial aid. It was all based on prior year tax returns, and other very mysterious factors, which Ms Talbott would not reveal.
    The FAO really needs to publish their aid formulas, so as to be fair, and equal. We do not know if different students are treated differently. We do not know if the formulas are being applied correctly, perhaps there are other yearly financial figures that we could provide. What is the formula???
    The MOST IMPORTANT thing is to support the students who already attend Swarthmore. Their continuing enrollment needs to be the top of the list for priorities. Whatever has happened in the family needs to be considered highly, whether it fits the FAO's secret formula or not. This is not the secret recipe for KFC, it is some very bright and wonderful students' future, and Swarthmore is missing out on their contributions. Why get more new students involved in financial aid, if these new students can be dropped. And, by the way, I personally found no compassion from Ms. Talbott, I felt as if our Swarthmore student was considered exchangeable and not valued. Bring financial aid out of the closet and put it into the hands of people who care!

  11. 0
    student says:

    From my experiences with the financial aid office, it seems that it likes to avoid talking to you, specifically Laura Talbot. Instead, it leaves messages on your phone, so you won't be able to discuss your package. From my experiences, although I do realize the FAO has a job to do, the director, Laura Talbot, is either really stubborn or is scared to talk to students. Direct quote from her: "You can't raise your voice like that. Swarthmore is a quiet place." H a h a h a =)

  12. 0
    Will says:

    I believe that the primary issue at hand is that students want to know why they get what they get in the financial aid package. I believe that if the FAO currently had the resources to provide such an explanation, it would consider doing so. However, such explanations would then dissatisfy some students because of comparisons between different packages (the result of not using a formula). Furthermore, it is likely that the FAO would need additional staff and more time in which to prepare an explanation for each student.

    Furthermore, being a Quaker institution has nothing to do with financial aid, and Swarthmore is no longer officially affiliated with the Society of Friends. Our reputation as such has nothing to do with how we process financial aid.

  13. 0
    Lauren Stokes ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    finaid student–

    1. OK, so we agree, I was just wording it in a way which emphasized the wrong thing. Each family is different–each family should understand why it's getting what it does. It's just weird to me that instead of that situation, we consistently get charts about the "average" family.
    2. I've known a dozen personally over three years at Swarthmore, and I'd be surprised if my friends were the only people getting screwed. So I assume at least a dozen a year. But I don't claim authoritative knowledge of those numbers.

    The anecdote about your sister is a good one, though. Thank you for that–it's useful to acknowledge that we know how good Swarthmoreans have it as a whole, while always striving for improvement.

  14. 0
    a finaid student says:

    Lauren:
    Thank you for responding. I'll briefly answer your points:
    1. I think that families should understand why they pay what they do, not why they pay more or less than others. The FAO simply considers too many factors for a simple explanation of why you aren't "average" to be feasible.
    2. I agree that if dozens of people each year leave for financial reasons, there is a problem. I am curious as to what the actual number is, as all the estimates I've heard were considerably lower. These students may have legitimate complaints about their financial aid packages. But I also know that there are some sacrifices required to attend college unless you are incredibly wealthy. I don't object to the idea that we might have to take out small loans in order to go to Swat. Of course, $15,000 a year is an unreasonable burden for a student.

    Asher:
    I disagree with certain aspects of the petition. However, I agree that transparency – at least to some degree – should be implemented. If aid changes from year to year, an explanation of why is necessary. Students could address any discrepancies between perceived and "demonstrated" financial aid in this situation. The goal is fairness, and we cannot know if this is being achieved with so much secrecy.
    Speaking of fairness: there are very few schools that do as much as Swat to eliminate financial barriers, whether through financial aid, the student activities fund, study abroad, or a standard fee for housing and meals. So I hardly find the issue laughable. Now, if the FAO is not implementing fair policies in calculating financial aid, there needs to be reform. I do not at all mean to characterize some students as greedy or manipulative. But I think that requiring new considerations makes sense because there needs to be some evidence that the family simply cannot make the payments. Transparency would be especially useful in these cases; students could point to specific gaps between perceived and demonstrated need. That everyone has different perceptions of "need" is not a value judgment. If you intend to work in a non-profit organization, the amount of money you are willing to invest in college is very likely different than if you plan on going into investment banking. And not all families will choose to make certain sacrifices. Certainly, there are situations where the FAO seems to be asking too much (as they appear to in your friend's case), and those need to be addressed.

    I am not concerned about "a few hurt feelings," or I'd keep my opinions to myself. What concerns me is that we are overlooking the hundreds of students who have the opportunity to attend one of the world's best colleges because of very generous financial aid policies. To offer a slightly different perspective about financial aid, I will tell you about my sister. She currently attends another small liberal arts college in PA, one which takes far fewer factors and considerations into account when it calculates financial aid. And the difference those policies make? Our financial aid packages differ by nearly $30,000 per year.

  15. 0
    Asher Sered says:

    Finaid student,

    I think your post reinforces what Candice Nguyen said about the fact that we cannot say specifically how the system needs to be fixed. Simply that the way the system is functioning now is not ideal. Also, you should know, that my Jane has had about a half dozen meetings with administrators and I believe has done everything in her power. I think the conclusion that the system leaves out at least a few people every year for inexplicable reasons is unavoidable.

    As I mentioned earlier. We at SFJ also feel badly about the tone. But the fact is, this is the first time in recent history that people are actually having this conversation. The fact that Laura Talbot sent out that long email to the whole student body, is, in my opinion, a victory for every Swattie.

  16. 0
    a finaid student says:

    Yves:
    I'm sorry that you aren't here this semester. Perhaps there could be a more public posting of FAO's response? (Although much of it merely echoes their already established, and readily available, guidelines.) I think they did a very good job explaining what things they take into account when calculating need.

    I don't mean for my response to attack any individual. Part of the problem with financial aid is that the situation is inherently personal and subjective – even many Swatties have no idea of the realities of their families' financial situations. Certainly, my intention is not to paint students who transfer for financial reasons as "Jimmy." I am illustrating, rather, why the FAO requires some change in family situation for a reevaluation. Merely saying "we cannot afford this" would not be sufficient to prove that they, in fact, cannot.

    Perhaps the appeals process should require that families list all anticipated expenses for the following year, including their own estimates for things like transportation, food, and clothing. That way, they can demonstrate that their need is higher than anticipated. Judging from their recent petition response, however, Swat already takes many factors into consideration.

    I do not wish to claim that Swat's conception of "demonstrated aid" is perfect; I feel that it may fall short, and even infrequently cause students to leave. Obviously, if the FAO is making errors in calculating that need, there should be a process in place for appeals. My objection is not against reform, but merely the tone and the method, which strike me as being somewhat unproductive.

    But starting dialogue on campus about financial aid – I completely support that and I'm glad the petition has at least sparked this.

  17. 0
    A student says:

    Based on many of the stories I have heard, the problem is not that the FAO is made up of emotionless robots. It is that it includes various people – including Laura Talbot – who are not compassionate. There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding in the FAO that they are NOT meeting students' real needs, and a fundamental lack of compassion about the fact that their decisions force students to transfer or take out crippling loans.

  18. 0
    Asher Sered says:

    Dear a finaid student,

    Based on your post, it is clear that there must have been some misunderstanding of the main points of the Swat Financial Justice petition. A situation that I will try to remedy.

    Laura Talbot's point that "no one family is average" is well taken, and neither I nor SFJ are necessarily pushing for a simple formula (although many schools such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford have had enormous success with such policies.) That said, I think we can all agree that there is a mountain of difference between a simple formula such as making families pay a certain percentage of its income and the system we have now. The way the system currently works is that families provide the financial aid office with all sorts of information, and a number is cranked out entirely behind closed doors. Whether the financial aid office is using a complicated algorithm, making a quick judgment call or throwing everyone's forms down the stairs and seeing which one goes the furthest is entirely unknown to anybody outside of the office. Now, finaid student, I am supremely confident that a fair amount of thought goes into every application. But if so, why is the office so afraid to share how they came to the conclusion? The office can say that it considers factors like mortgages and siblings’ tuition as much as it wants, but how much do they consider them? Of course, they consider them differently in different cases. But why can’t I know how much they were considered in MY case? The fact is, an intense pushback against the mere notion of transparency only makes a lack of transparency that much more troubling.

    In regards to your second point. Every time I hear the argument you just made in the same space as a lament for the disrespect we are showing to Quaker values I cannot help but laugh. I do not mean for this to sound like a personal attack, but I think we can all see what is implicit in your statement that “our need based aid must remain based on demonstrated need, not just ‘whatever Jimmy wants.’” Essentially what you are trying to say is that every Jimmy X—of which I know a couple and even Jim Bock admits there are 3 or 4 every year—has one of several things going for him or her. 1) She is simply trying to play the system, and wants more money but if her bluff is called will stay at Swarthmore. 2) Does not really want to stay at Swarthmore, but if somehow she can get more money than she really needs will stick around. 3) Wants to stay at Swarthmore, but is simply cheap 4) Wants to do everything in her power to stay at Swarthmore, but simply cannot do it without putting unreasonable financial pressure on her family. Now, it is SFJ’s position that if Swarthmore wants to continue being taken seriously as a Quaker institution the financial aid office should at least consider the notion that maybe there are a few people who fall into category 4. The financial aid office gave one Jane X that I know, when asking how she could pay for the large tuition hike, very simple advice. Personally take out $15,000 of loans every year, or strip away all of the money and potential loans that your parents can take out, thereby leaving your two high school age siblings with nothing. I think we can all agree, that assuming she is not some major scam-artist, my friend falls under category 4. And it is SFJ’s position that any system that would screw-over someone in her situation is clearly broken and needs rectification.

    Finally, I share your regrets that this campaign has taken a negative tone. But the fact is, several students that I know have had personal meetings with a variety of administrators about these issues, and nothing has been done. I, and SFJ, have the utmost respect for the administrators who work tirelessly to make our Swarthmore experience what it is. But the fact is, the status quo is unacceptable. And if it takes a few hurt feelings for Jane to be able to come back to Swarthmore next semester, then so be it.

  19. 0
    Lauren Stokes ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Hey finaid student, I was one of the authors of the collaboratively-written editorial, and I'll (singularly) respond to your concerns.

    1. We totally agree about the fact that the finaid office should take into account individual circumstances–we don't want a general guide correlating income and aid, but for students to understand what about their specific situation determines their specific package. The problem is not that the family pays more than the average–it's that they don't understand why they pay more.

    2. If it was 1 or 2 students taking time off because of financial aid, I might agree that Jimmy is just being irrational and asking for something unfair. Given that it is at least one or two dozen, I think we should ask whether this might be due to a systemic problem with the way the college calculates aid.

    3. That said, thanks for pointing out how the language we used in that particular spot was a bit harsh–I didn't mean to imply that the finaid office is evil, but our words were a bit over the top.

  20. 0
    Yves says:

    I must admit that it's kind-of ironic that the FAO's response to the petition is locked to the Swarthmore network–so, while I'd like to read what is written to evaluate your argument, "a finaid student," I unfortunately can't, being unable to attend Swat this semester for (ding, ding, ding) financial reasons. A bit Catch-22-ish, but just a silly oversight more than anything else.

    (Suffice to say that from my personal experience alone I'd be inclined to disagree with you on many points. I think your portrayal of Jimmy as a money-grubber is a bit silly, and a bit circular [part of the problem is that there needs to be a better definition of "demonstrated need," so how that differs substantively from "whatever Jimmy wants" is rather unclear and not exceptionally useful to argue at this point in time].)

  21. 0
    a finaid student says:

    As a student receiving financial aid, I don't support the petition – at least not the current version. I disagree with the Daily Gazette's endorsement on several points:

    "Families making $80,000 annually who feel their aid package is unfair don’t just want to know that the “average” family with their income pays $6,585. Such a family would rightfully want to know why they pay more than that." And herein the problem lies: If the financial aid office is to continue using individual circumstances which are not captured by formulas to calculate expected aid – and I think the vast majority of students support this generous policy – then there can be no general guide correlating income and aid. These averages cannot be used to ask for more or less money because, as Talbot said in her response to the petition, "No one family is average." You aren't receiving that amount because you have different circumstances than other families within your tax bracket. No student has "average" experiences, and we are specifically told not to expect them.

    Furthermore, it sounds harsh but the FAO's primary goal should not be "to make sure that students who have already become enmeshed in the Swarthmore community can continue their education here." We all want Swatties to have the opportunity to continue at Swat. But fair access to financial aid is something that they rightfully, in my opinion, emphasize over retaining talented people. If they wanted to attract the best people, they would choose to give out merit-based financial aid. Fortunately, we can both be fair and enroll lots of really great students. If Jimmy X goes to finaid and says, "I can't stay here unless you give me more money," and he has no rationale for requiring more, it wouldn't be right for the FAO to increase his aid. They should present him with options like the Federal PLUS loan, but our need based aid must remain based on demonstrated need, not just "whatever Jimmy wants."

    And to echo an earlier sentiment, the financial office cares. To say of Swat's policy that "it can lull students and families into a false sense of security before a package is handed down which the family feels it cannot pay" makes it sound like they're trying to get students to enroll just to snatch away the money during later years. And seriously… this is not the way to promote dialogue.

    I'll close by saying that my experiences with the financial aid office have been nothing short of fantastic. No, I didn't always get all the money that I wanted or even thought that I deserved. But I saw that they treated my case fairly and compassionately. They go out of their way to be friendly, to give you financial advice on loans, to make exceptions for bizarre circumstances (and my family has plenty), and will even pay for any taxes that the government imposes on your financial aid package. It isn't perfect, and I encourage Swatties to try and improve the system. However, crafting an extremely critical petition, riddled with what the FAO claims are factual inaccuracies, seems to be neither the most effective nor the truly "Quaker" way of bringing about reform.

  22. 0
    Candice Nguyen says:

    I thank the Daily Gazette for taking a stance and endorsing the Financial Aid Document drafted and supported by the Swarthmore community. To address a few general concerns:

    First, I don't think anyone can contest the good that our financial aid office does. That's why many of us are here, and it's why I myself chose to come to Swarthmore from the start. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the students that are disenfranchised and disadvantaged by this system. Moreover, I encourage the community to view this movement not as an attack on the administration, but simply an effort to improve upon our current policies and acknowledge that no student who has invested one to three years of his/her life at Swarthmore should be forced to withdraw for financial reasons.

    Second, the Financial Aid Document/Petition (I refrain from using the word petition because of its aggressive connotation, but I will use it here simply to refer to the document posted at ipetitions) offers no definitive solutions about improving financial aid. We plead to ignorance because, as Yves noted, we lack information. Our Petition is simply a collective acknowledgment of how Swarthmore's financial aid policies can and do adversely affect its students.

    If you are interested in learning more about this movement or have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact me or come to our meeting this Sunday.

    -Candice Mai Khanh Nguyen

  23. 0
    Ben Rachbach '11 says:

    We need to remember that the FAO is staffed by compassionate people whose job it is to serve us, the students. We certainly need to push them to serve us as well as possible. But that pushing will occur better in an atmosphere of trust than one of animosity. Hats off to Swat Financial Justice for breaking the taboo on discussing this issue. Let's channel all the energy that's being released into a cool, confident push for change rather than distracting ourselves with unsupported theories that the FAO is conspiring to reduce aid to those who speak up.

  24. 0
    Yves says:

    "but I have yet to see a concrete, realistic plan" … I think much of the issue is that there's a limited amount of information as to how the system *actually* works. Hence, it isn't entirely surprising that there is no "concrete, realistic plan" to try to come to a more equitable understanding or more beneficial end financial aid results — the Swarthmore community at large can't suggest or discuss such hypothetical plans because there are significant limitations to the information available for analysis.

  25. 0
    A student says:

    I am afraid that in the discussion of financial aid, too many Swatties are falling prey to the idea that the FAO is made up of emotionless robots intent on scamming the families of students. The FAO has a job to do, and it does it to the best of its ability. The college says it will meet demonstrated need, and obviously they will determine what "demonstrated need" means. Anyone believing otherwise is fooling him/herself. Perhaps transparency is needed, but I have yet to see a concrete, realistic plan. Most suggestions presented thus far will require more staff, reducing the amount of money in the budget that can be allocated to students.

    The system isn't perfect, but it's better than many.

  26. 0
    A citizen says:

    Thanks for this, Gazette–after signing the petition and reviewing the FAO's response, all that I could do was angrily send my mother a clipping of the "average aid package chart," which, indeed, set my family's expected contribution at some $8000 above the "average" EFC. Her response was to warn me (direly) not to continue complaining or stirring up the muck, for fear that my financial aid package will be reduced.

    Interestingly enough, I have heard this particular fear, or a variation of it, articulated far too many times among students in the last month. Although it would require an extreme amount of patience and maturity amongst the student body, perhaps what is required next is a (as close to complementary as can be) survey or forum for disclosure of family circumstances and aid received among all students who benefit from aid–again, while this would likely be uncomfortable and cause many students to feel that their packages are "unfair," it would also help the student body to gain perspective and evidence on some of the otherwise ambiguous or unsatisfying statements that the FAO has made in response.

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