The CSUN Financial Aid and Scholarship Department successfully assists more than 18,500 students per year, thereby doing as the writer of the March 30 column “Financial Aid flaws serious roadblock to students” suggests we should: help students achieve a college education students who would not otherwise be able to do so.
The writer, like some other students, may have the common misperception that government subsidized, low-interest loans are not financial aid. Most students want grant money, money that they don’t have to work for or pay back. That would be ideal if there were enough financial funds to make this happen for every student who wants to attend college. Because there is not this kind of limitless funding available, the government has relied on lending students the money to complete their education, knowing that citizens armed with an education will have the ability to make a good living and be able to pay back that loan so that other students can have the opportunity to go to school.
We understand that the writer is disappointed that she is not able to get the kind of financial support from the government and the school that she wants. The federal government (financially supported by taxpayers) believes that children are the responsibility, first, of their parents. Taxpayers are standing at the ready to provide financial aid for students whose parents are not able to pay for their children’s entire education. Also, the government expects students to contribute to their education, either through work, savings, scholarships, or a combination of those. The average family income of students receiving financial aid at Cal State Northridge is just over $41,000 per year. Although because of privacy laws, we cannot reveal in a public letter what the writer’s family income is, she can judge for herself where her family’s financial strength lies in relation to that average annual figure.
We are dismayed by the writer’s portrayal of people who work in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Department. The staff members in this department work with passion and compassion every day to try and help every student we can, but we can’t help everyone. There are funding limitations, laws, and policies that we must consider. When we do not have grant funds to help students, we can suggest other loans, finding employment and looking for scholarships.
The vice president for Student Affairs has recently hired a development officer to raise grant and scholarship funds to help students who have financial need beyond what we are able to fund, and to recognize the academic achievements of our students. We look forward to having more resources available to help even more students. But, 18,500 students served and $145 million paid in a year isn’t bad.
Pot shots hurt. They don’t solve problems. As a journalism student, it would be helpful for the writer to research the federal and state laws and the California State University policies for financial aid and to report on who is served and who is not served by financial aid. As a student, it would be helpful for her to get involved in the United States Student Association, or another politically active group, to help politicians understand the effects of the laws they pass on students’ ability to obtain a college education. There are so many other positive and effective ways to bring change to the world around us. Hopefully, that will be part of the writer’s education here.
Director of the Financial Aid and Scholarship Department