The Fairness of FAFSA

Andria Chen/Staff Illustrator

Kayli Walker

Anyone who has attended college in this past decade to the present will most likely agree that they have worried or seriously considered how they are going to pay for their education. Many students chose to put in a Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to receive financial aid but express dissatisfaction with the FAFSA system.

Unfortunately, there are some necessary evils in the FAFSA system because it would be impossible to please everyone. One of these is student loan debt and the inability to completely cover the costs of education for those who truly need more than they are given. FAFSA provides aid for students in desperate need who would not be able to afford college without this system.

One group of students who heavily rely on FAFSA are students whose parents are uneducated. In the 2014-2015 school year, FAFSA received 10,317,053 applications from students for whom neither parent is educated. This can be compared to the number of applicants for whom one parent is educated: 5,494,521. As seen in this data, there are almost double the amount of applications coming from people whose parents are not educated.

Without the FAFSA system, many students would not be able to attend the college of their dreams even if they get accepted. Isn’t this unbelievably wrong? Many students would answer “yes” to this assertion.

College undoubtedly yields benefits to those who are able to complete their education and earn their degree. Thus, FAFSA helps those students who may not have had the opportunity of hearing the value of education and do not have their parents to explain this to them. In addition, college graduates tend to earn higher wages, making their family income higher, and more likely to have the ability to financially support a child in college.

FAFSA is also fair in its evaluation because it evaluates all students using the same criteria. The FAFSA requires applicants to enter their age, gender, family income, parent’s education history, assets, their personal income, whether they are living on campus, whether they are a dependent, their children and household size to name a few. They then take this information and plug it into the same formula to provide the fairest estimate possible for each of the applicants.

Some applicants may argue that it is not fair if they are required to pay more than the cost of attendance because their family earns a higher wage, which is a valid point. However, this money will help everyone get the most aid that FAFSA can provide based on their criteria. Even if an applicant is not eligible for grants and still feel they need help paying for their education at that point in time, they may qualify for student loans. Loans may seem scary and the applicant often wonders how they will pay the money back, but these are not just ordinary loans.

Subsidized loans, for example, do not require the student to pay anything while they remain a full time student. They are most commonly required to pay six months after they graduate, if they decide to leave the university, or they only become enrolled as a part time student. Did I mention that no interest accrues on these loans until stating six months after graduation? This gives the student some time to earn money to start making these payments that sometimes have up to a 30-year payment plans.

In addition, these loans can be deferred if they student chooses to go to graduate school, for example, among the list of reasons that these loans can be differed. Although student debt is often referred to as a huge financial issue, the student loan delinquency rate is only 11.6 percent of the millions of borrowers.

Thus, although FAFSA cannot please everyone, it is a very helpful and necessary system that helps millions of students pay for their education. Loans may seem daunting, but they allow students whose families have decent financial means to pay for their education at that point in time and then work with the students on paying back the loans after they graduate.