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Why do med schools give need based scholarships?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by eliteeli, 05.14.14.

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  1. eliteeli

    eliteeli 2 Time Super Bowl MVP 2+ Year Member

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    So I have a bit of a gripe! I'm not trying to act entitled or complain-y and yet I want to vent so here goes:

    Why do med schools give need based scholarships?!? Except for maybe the VERY rich, nobody's parents are paying for their school anyway! Regardless if your parents make 10K or 100K you're going to be taking out loans for all of your med school expenses either way. They're not gonna just hand you 40 grand a year. I'm taking out loans for every expense. If my parents were making 10 dollars a year I would be getting aid but now I'm not. How exactly does that make sense??? Shouldn't all scholarships be merit based?
     
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  3. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels Gold Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    I agree that the way need is calculated isn't always realistic. I.e. lets say you have a house that is on expensive land. Are you going to sell your family's house to pay for med school? I also think asking non-trads for parental info is particularly silly.
     
  4. kevinus

    kevinus Invictus 2+ Year Member

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    I feel that my family doesn't make enough money to contribute to my education, but I'm getting no free money. What's the income level of most students getting need based grants?
     
  5. GoPelicans

    GoPelicans 2+ Year Member

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    I got decent need-based aid at pretty much all of my accepted schools... as far as I can tell, I got the max or close to it at every school. My household income (myself + parents) is ~70K . It will be ~50K next year when I no longer work a gap year job.
     
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  6. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    Because some students are so exceptional that they should be cut some slack on having a career full of debt. Merit is not always measured by GPA and MCAT score. A difficult road traveled is also meritorious.

     
  7. Reckoner

    Reckoner Lacks theology and geometry Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Given that median tuition+fees across all schools is ~40K higher than median indebtedness for public schools, and ~90k higher for private schools, it seems the "VERY rich" make up a higher percentage of students than you might be assuming. Of course, part of the differences is probably due to need-based aid.

    As to the justification for need-based vs. merit-based, I'm guessing the thought is that merit-based awards are going to skew heavily toward those who are most capable of paying tuition (i.e. the affluent), which you could argue is not the optimal use of scant resources. I'm not an administrator, though, so grain of salt and such.
     
  8. medicalschool1775

    medicalschool1775

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    I don't think they take student's income into consideration, or at least not at my state school. I was just under the 100K mark for the 2013 tax season, but my parents are at zero. My school has basically waived all tuition and fees.
     
  9. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    It's all about leveling the playing field. The 100k parents will in the end have a higher likelihood of helping the student's finance (directly or indirectly) whereas 10k parents will have a zero chance to be able to. And since medical school can't ask family "are you willing to help with the cost?" because then every family will swear on their mother's grave that they will not help at all, so they can only go by what is more likely.

    First house is excluded in FAFSA calculation I thought because they ask you to list real estate asset except for the one you live in.
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
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  10. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    Because all "need" isn't equal.

    OP, let's say you absolutely had to raise $50,000 by next month, as in, your very life depended on you getting that money. Could you do it? Well, you don't have $50,000 sitting around in your bank account, but you don't want to die, right? So what do you do? First, you take the few thousand dollars you do have out of the bank. Then, you go to your parents, and they give you a few thousand dollars more. Maybe a few other relatives pitch in as well. So far, so good. Next, you call your credit card company and get a cash advancement for a few thousand dollars. Then, you start looking at other ways to raise money, such as by working extra hours for the next month to get more cash flow coming in. Maybe you also sell your car and some of your other possessions on Craig's List. Ultimately, by doing a combination of all these things, you raise your $50,000, and your life is saved. Hooray!

    Now, let's say you were in a situation where you needed that $50,000, but you didn't have any resources to raise it. No parents or relatives to contribute a few thousand each, no car to sell, no bank that you can convince to give you a personal loan. Remember, you're going to die if you don't get this money. But you don't have any way to get it. These are the people who qualify for need-based aid.

    I understand that many people's families do not help them pay for school. My family did not pay for my education either. But the point is, if you have a family, and they have an income or any assets, and your very life depended on it, you *do* theoretically have them as a fallback in terms of getting those life-saving resources. And if your family has the means but chooses to use it in other ways rather than invest in your medical education, you can still go to medical school. That is why we have a system of educational loans. But not contributing to your med school tuition is a choice that you and your family have made; their not contributing to your education is not your inherent life situation like it is for some people, where their family has no ability to choose whether or not to help them with their education. Does that make sense?
     
  11. ninjaman22

    ninjaman22 2+ Year Member

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    Schools have money, so they can spend it on whatever they want to.
     
  12. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 2+ Year Member

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    If you don't qualify for need based, your situation isn't as bad as those who do. Would you rather have nobody get aid at all? Obviously those who need it the most will get it. Merit based doesn't make much sense for med schools since the people who qualify for merit are usually those who are pretty well off anyways (relatively).
     
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  13. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    OP you obviously didn't grow up poor.
     
  14. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    Perhaps schools could just lower tuition for everyone?
     
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  15. F.Underwood

    F.Underwood

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    Merit based would be unfair since rich kids have the opportunity to spend more time accumulating merit. Right? I agree that the system is not perfect. It is probably hardest on the middle class.
     
  16. F.Underwood

    F.Underwood

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    I will say, need based scholarships and grants got me off the streets and into the classroom. They have really helped me turn my life around.
     
  17. F.Underwood

    F.Underwood

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    You don't think it would be cool to know that a kid who has parents that never went to college ended up going to college him/herself and doing really well?
     
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  18. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    And then the rich family will come out ahead compared to poor family, because the on average, rich family will contribute more to the student's education than poor family. How's that fair?
     
  19. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    Since when did it become a medical schools job to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor? I am all for financial aid in undergrad, because there finances can be a hindrance to attending. But in med school where loans are easy to come by, finances will not hinder your ability to attend after receiving an acceptance.
     
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  20. EngineerPreMD

    EngineerPreMD 2+ Year Member

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    Hmm, I mostly agree with you here Goro, but I can't say that a difficult road traveled is always measured in parental assets and savings. Plenty of things make a person's early years difficult. I know one or two people born into extremely rich families who had truly difficult childhoods (physically/mentally abusive parents, constant moving, etc...). If this were truly the consideration we'd be awarding need-based aid for students with divorced parents, deceased family members, and other similar difficult issues. Life "difficulty" is just too tough to gauge. I think it has more to do with @QofQuimica's response. Those with richer parents and family have a safety net of sorts. I won't be getting need-based aid, but I also know that if there ever comes a day when I can't make rent, I could give my parents a call (though it would be really embarrassing).

    We all encountered the same issues in college, and I think a big misconception here is the difference between those whose parental income has seriously affected their ability to succeed and those whose parents simply didn't make enough to live luxuriously. Students coming out of the projects and students from extremely rural areas had limited educational opportunities. Students who lived in an area of the suburbs with lower property value probably aren't seriously hindered compared to those with a second garage bay. This is where the line gets fuzzy, and this is where people start to get upset. You look at the guy who used to next to you in AP Calculus, who had every opportunity you had except the yearly trip to Ft. Lauderdale, and you wonder why on earth he gets to graduate with less debt than you. My advice is to stop worrying about it. I think of it as a way to lower tuition for those who really and truly need it, and for those who don't, good for them. Otherwise, I'm just here doing my thing, saving up for school, and thinking about how badass we're all gonna look in scrubs.
     
  21. EMDO2018

    EMDO2018 Banned Banned

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    Can somebody pm me, I need a second pair of eyes to look at a one page essay. It's for a needs based/diversity scholarship app. Not trolling.
     
  22. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    No, it's medical school's job to recruit a diverse class, and being poor adds diversity and is merit for getting more money/less in debt.

    Parent PLUS loans have the same requirement as Grad PLUS loans, up to cost of attendance. Along with many choices for private loans and increased stafford loan limit if parent is denied a Parent PLUS loan, finance is as big of a hinderance in undergrad as in medical school.

    Finance won't hinder your ability to attend either, so you will have no problem loaning out the entire COA.
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  23. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    But here is the other thing, it is unfair to anyone who saved money they earned (especially non-trads) for medical school. Their savings go to tuition, while the person who did not save money gets a free ride? Seems like rewarding fiscal responsibility.
     
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  24. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    Imo it makes a lot more sense for undergrad than professional school, especially when that person who has the big need based scholarship will get the same salary as the others post-graduation and if need based comes out to like 160k, having them save well over 200k by the time they pay it off, which doesn't even equal the extra cost to the non-need based students who may take another 5+ years to pay down the accruing loans. Sure in an ideal world all the non-need based students would have parents paying the difference, but that is really unrealistic. I think need-based should exist to a degree, but 160k to one student and 0 to another is quite unfair imo.
     
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  25. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    Right, but everyone knows the rules, and so you can prepare by sheltering it in 401k, IRA, HSA, etc. (you can shelter almost 25k/yr in those vehicles) that doesn't go toward FAFSA calculation and you can withdraw it during medical school.
     
  26. shiftingmirage

    shiftingmirage 7+ Year Member

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    I kind of agree, but for a different reason. With med school, you're basically guaranteed to make 140k+ after residency. I would think anyone making that kind of money could afford to have some student debt, not full tuition, but maybe charge 1/3, and use the 1/3 gained to offset a portion of someone else's tuition.
     
  27. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    This is an argument for not doing financial aid, right? Now you are saying financial aid rewards non-savers and cheats.
     
  28. ChemEngMD

    ChemEngMD viva la revolucion 7+ Year Member

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    First of all the person you quoted was a robot.

    Second, the person who originally wrote that meant non-trad students as in people who graduated undergrad years before applying to med school, not non-trad meaning that they are first generation college students.

    I know a guy who applied to med school at age 35 and he was required to provide parental information despite having been independent for half of his life.
     
  29. chillaxbro

    chillaxbro 2+ Year Member

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    Why are there merit scholarships? Merit scholarships are inherently unfair. They're usually awarded to amazing athletes, musicians, people with 45 MCAT scores etc. How can one who grew up in a poor family ever scrape together the resources to attain these achievements

    Growing up I never played sports or an instrument. Why? You need parents to take you to ball practice. You need to pay for music lessons and team fees and equipment and instruments. How can we do these things if my parents were working all the time just to pay for food and rent?

    My cousin's family is much better off than ours growing up. Right now she plays all types of sports and gymnastics. She takes violin lessons that cost $60 an hour. My mom doesn't even make $60 in a day.

    I think the need based scholarships give it some balance at least
     
  30. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    No, I'm saying you are not at a disadvantage because it is easily mitigated. There are LEGAL tools at your disposal if you do earn some money during gap years. If you don't take advantage, then it would look like it's rewarding irresponsibility but that's on you for being unaware.
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  31. moop

    moop 1K Member Banned Account on Hold

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    Not trolling, but derailing. You will be ignored.
     
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  32. EngineerPreMD

    EngineerPreMD 2+ Year Member

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    I will say this. In college the system makes a lot of sense. Culturally, it's almost expected that parents pay for college if they can, and financial aid is an attempt to cover what they can't. It has a lot of flaws, but it makes attending a very good college a possibility for almost anyone. However, once a student moves on to college they inherit the opportunities of that college. I look at my friends who received aid, and once we moved in freshman year we lived in the same places, ate the same food, had access to the same teaching resources, volunteer opportunities, student orgs, etc... If there was one difference, I graduated with ~20K less debt than they did on average.

    I think this could be a good basis for awarding aid in medical school. How much debt was the student carrying coming out of undergrad? This would still have to be reconciled with the cost of their undergrad (you can't punish people for going to state school), and how much their parents were able to pay (you can't encourage lack of parental support), but it would be a good start to at least consider how much help they've received in the past, since your finances are essentially yours once you graduate college. Further, any savings or debt paying that you contribute after graduation shouldn't be considered. If you work your tail off after you graduate, that should be yours to put towards medical school, and shouldn't be considered in aid.
    Being poor adds diversity, but it isn't merit. Whatever merit aspect is there is already accounted for when you list your work-study job on AMCAS and when you receive a good nod from the ADCOMS for having to help pay for your education.
    It won't hinder his/her ability to attend, but like @lmn just pointed out, the distribution is quite unfair, and since most parents are not paying for professional school, those receiving need-based aid are often coming out way ahead. While I prefer not to think about it, it may be a little painful to watch my colleagues who received aid spending it up after graduation while I pay down my loans. We're all receiving the same salaries after graduation depending on our choice of specialty, maybe all that need-based aid would be better spent financing those going into primary care. These schools are essentially providing aid as a part of a liberal/social mission. How awesome would it look for a med school to come out and say it will pay out 160K of your loans if you go into primary care?
    This I can't agree with this enough. I won't receive aid no matter what (my father is a doctor *gasp*), but if I were in the range to be receiving aid, I would be spending it up right now. Anything that you earn post-graduation should be excluded since need-based aid is meant to cover costs for those who weren't blessed with financial advantages. Medical schools should encourage students to be financially responsible and to save money for tuition. Also, non-trads can't hide their savings. They generally have saved more than 25K. Why should they dump their entire savings into tuition and essentially start over when students coming straight out of college aren't counting their added years of attending salary on their FAFSA form?
     
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  33. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    Its just as easy to game the system with family resources as it is with personal resources. Either way, those who know how to game the system come out ahead with financial aid. Meanwhile, honesty and transparency is punished. If you take out financial aid, then there is no gaming the system.
     
  34. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    Does it really happen that often though where a poor student come out ahead? Ya if you are poor and are going to HMS, you will do very well, but at a mid tier, the aid will be much less.

    I mentioned that you can save 25k/yr in retirement accounts. If you can save more than 25k per year, that means you are earning probably around six figures. And even then, an extra few grand beyond the amount you can shelter won't change your situation from significant aid to no aid.
     
  35. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    How is putting money into 401k and IRA dishonest? If schools believe that they should be included into asset calculation, they can change the formula. It's not like I'm lying by saying I have nothing in my retirement account. I list on my FAFSA how much I have. A better analogy would be someone not taking the maximum tax credit on their tax return.
     
  36. exercisemed

    exercisemed 2+ Year Member

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    You cant have it both ways. Either FAFSA reflects your true savings or it doesn't. If FAFSA does reflect your true savings, then financial aid dings people who save money. If FAFSA does not reflect your true savings (which you seem to think, due to shelters), then schools cannot accurately and fairly gauge how much aid to give.

    So we can conclude that whether or not FAFSA reflects your true savings, financial aid is unfair. Therefore, the best thing to do would be to give more merit aid (which can reward people who persevered against tough circumstances) or just lower tuition for everyone.
     
  37. chenzt

    chenzt 2+ Year Member

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    I'm simply responding to your assertion that FAFSA unfairly treats non-trad because of their asset dings their chance of aid, while I'm saying FAFSA doesn't if you save it in the right place. So it's not a terribly unfair system to non-trad. Schools can still accurately gauge because I still ended up listing my parent's and my own retirement account value in the school's own financial aid app. Their formula just ignored the number (or had an exemption up to a certain amount that we did not exceed, it's all speculation here) because I didn't end up with all loans for my financial aid.

    So FAFSA and supplemental app reflects your true saving, but doesn't ding you for retirement saving (which can then be withdrawn under the education exemption without penalty)
     
    Last edited: 05.14.14
  38. moop

    moop 1K Member Banned Account on Hold

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    Man this thread was doomed from the beginning wasn't it
     
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  39. Davida

    Davida

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    I agree that there is a difference between families that do and do not have the choice to support their children in medical school. I think I agree on the point that FAFSA isn't getting the whole financial story, though.

    For instance: my family was below poverty level for the majority of my childhood, and my parents were poor for the majority of their lives. Only in the last 5-8 years has my family started to pull in a good income (largely due to the fact that my father went back to school to complete his degree, but much later in life). So if you look at my family's current tax forms, we're doing well. But they don't show you that my parents were scraping by for the majority of their lives, and that we grew up "disadvantaged." This is captured on my application, but it's not like the financial aid office sees that (to my knowledge). Because of my family's late start, it's either pay for medical school or have any kind of savings (for unexpected expenses, retirement, etc.). There's the choice, technically, to help me with med school...but it's definitely not a good choice. And families in this situation generally aren't as financially savvy as ones that had money from the start. I doubt my dad had any idea about money sheltering options until very recently.

    I'm also not sure (maybe someone can enlighten me) whether financial aid takes into account pre-existing student debt load - I don't recall anything asking about my student debt on FAFSA, although it's possible the school somehow has access to this information by linking tax forms? So there's that issue for middle class students whose families couldn't help them pay for all of college, which is also expensive.

    I wish there were a way to convey this information. Of course, life just isn't always fair, and it's not like I'll be suffering financially as a physician. And there's a whole host of privileges that goes into my father being able to go back and get his degree, and other families just might not have this option, so in that respect I'm definitely not as disadvantaged as some of my future colleagues. I doubt there's a way to make the system fair for everyone - it's just the way the world works sometimes.

    (If I've made any incorrect assumptions about what the financial aid office does and does not consider, please let me know. I know very little about their inner workings, and I'm basing most of my assumptions off of the information I remember giving them.)
     
  40. EngineerPreMD

    EngineerPreMD 2+ Year Member

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    It was started by a guy called "eliteeli" with the phrase, "so I have a bit of a gripe." Of course it was doomed... (full disclosure: I'm an Eagles fan).
     
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  41. ace12345

    ace12345 2+ Year Member

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    You're way overstating whether FAFSA "can be gamed." Why do you think schools also ask for full tax returns? Why do you think Need Access goes so in-depth into finances? The places that are giving out a lot of need-based aid make you prove you need it.

    Moreover, you're missing the point on need-based aid enitrely, and you're doing so for the same reason a lot of people do so: You are privileged enough to make incorrect assumptions. Need-based aid completely changes the game for a lot of families, and it does come down to families when we're talking about an expense like this. For example, going home is big one. For so many students, the holidays are the highlight of the year. They cannot wait to get home and celebrate with their families. But when you're family is struggling, going home is one of the most difficult things in the world. Seeing them suffer, you want to rip the house down because of the unfairness. It kills you because you know you are going to go back to school, while your family is still there, burning themselves out. Now THAT is unfair.

    But need-based aid means so much to them. It makes families feel like things will be okay. Not everyone needs this security, and schools do a good job of figuring out who does.
     
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  42. Espadaleader

    Espadaleader 5+ Year Member

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    The need access takes student debts into account.

    The ppl on the forum against need based aid are the ones whose parents are doctors, they take vacations abroad annually, and they backpack ppl
     
  43. OrgasmicChemistry

    OrgasmicChemistry

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    Most people end up taking out loans for every expense. Why begrudge someone who gets a scholarship? It's not like it affects you.

    Full disclosure: I'm taking out loans for every expense.

    Full disclosure: I'm also an Eagles fan.
     
  44. Reckoner

    Reckoner Lacks theology and geometry Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Come on. No need to make inflammatory generalizations. How can you expect people to consider your perspective if you paint theirs with such broad dismissive strokes?
     
  45. PreciousHamburgers

    PreciousHamburgers 2+ Year Member

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    Including contributions that are less tangible than money that will help you in school and in your career, like networks, financial advice/knowledge, a better vocabulary, not worrying about your parents' retirement/healthcare, and on and on...
     
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  46. ace12345

    ace12345 2+ Year Member

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    Yeah I will say that this is a bit of a blanket statement.
     
  47. shiftingmirage

    shiftingmirage 7+ Year Member

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    Yes. Regardless of what is expressed on this thread, the chances of it changing anyone's opinion is very low. The chances of it starting some kind of a flame war is moderate to high.

    Full disclosure: I don't like football.
     
  48. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    I concur, but I suspect that the view is that when one has a background of financial privilege, no matter what difficulties one went through, one still has advantages. That's going to be viewed differently from the kid who was the first to go to college in the family. We Americans like rags-to-riches stories...it's part of our national character.

    BTW, for a similar take on this subject, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/magazine/who-gets-to-graduate.html?hp&_r=0


    Hmm, I mostly agree with you here Goro, but I can't say that a difficult road traveled is always measured in parental assets and savings. Plenty of things make a person's early years difficult. I know one or two people born into extremely rich families who had truly difficult childhoods (physically/mentally abusive parents, constant moving, etc...). If this were truly the consideration we'd be awarding need-based aid for students with divorced parents, deceased family members, and other similar difficult issues. Life "difficulty" is just too tough to gauge.
     
  49. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    Goro, thank you for that article. I'm the first person in my family to do the college thing, and I cannot tell you how much of a culture clash it was, much less how comforting it is to see it wasn't just a problem with me. It's cool to see educational institutions catching wise to the way a financially restricted background can have much broader effects on how one functions in an academic milieu. I know part of why I was able to succeed was a professor from a comparable background who pulled me aside and figured out where and how I was hanging up.
     
  50. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Just remember to pass it on when you yourself begin working with students. Be the role models that helped you to the next generation of students.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  51. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 5+ Year Member

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    Oh, counting on it. I love mentoring and teaching students.

    Though, to keep this thread on topic, I benefitted greatly from need based funding as an UG, and I will continue to be "rewarded" for my parents' financial irresponsibility, as some have summed up my family's situation, in medical school. In my case though, the need based aid means I'll be able to turn around and invest in my parents more quickly, since they used their limited resources to keep me alive instead of saving for retirement when I was younger. I feel a lot of pressure to earn enough to support them, which is a stress students whose parents are well off, even if their folks can't contribute financially to medical school, may not experience.
     

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