Posts Tagged “low income students”

One of the latest websites to join the ranks of online college guides is InsideCollege, which helps students research campuses by publishing a wide range of “college lists.” From more serious topics like looking for an honors program at a public university or knowing which schools offer a loan-free education to low-income students to finding colleges known for their school spirit or discovering obscure programs of study like glass blowing, Inside College is a great jumping off point for creating your own college list. The site is also currently promoting a monthly $2,000 scholarship contest, so you just might score some extra cash for school while perusing Colleges Where Geek is Chic.

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Last week I attended a reception for College Summit (an awesome non-profit that helps low-income and first generation students prepare for college) and while there I met Michele Siqueiros, the executive director for The Campaign for College Opportunity.  She and her staff are doing all they can to make sure that California continues to invest in quality educational programs, and here’s how you can help.

Now through March 15th, 2009 The Campaign for College Opportunity is accepting submissions for their scholarship contest “Save Me A Spot In College,” and they’re giving away $125,000 in scholarships ranging from $500 to $2500 prizes.  To enter the contest, you must be a 6 – 12th grade student in California and submit either an essay, poster, or TV Ad answering the question “Why should California leaders save you and your peers a spot in college?”

This is a great opportunity to put your creative skills to work for a good cause, let legislators know why college is important to you, and possibly earn yourself a college scholarship.  And who knows?  Your submission just might be the one that convinces our leaders to spend more money on education.  Good luck!

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The New York Times published a startling article today discussing the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education’s biannual report, and I have to admit the findings are pretty scary.  There are certainly immediate implications for my husband and I as we produce our documentary film about students who are low-income and first generation college-going, but really the college-going future of our country effects all of us in both personal and national ways.

“If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won’t have an affordable system of higher education,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes access to higher education. “The middle class has been financing [college education] through debt. The scenario has been that families that have a history of sending kids to college will do whatever if takes, even if that means a huge amount of debt. But low-income students will be less able to afford college. Already the strains are clear…The share of income required to pay for college, even with financial aid, has been growing especially fast for lower-income families, the report found.”

Reading this article, I could certainly relate.  Like a lot of low-income students who see higher education as their ticket to moving up the social ladder, I was willing to work my way through school and go into debt just to get that college diploma.  But as financial aid decreases and tuition at public and private universities continue to rise at unprecedented rates, more and more students are getting priced out of college by the everyday costs of living or balk at the idea of going into debt for school. I’m still paying off my original $45K student loan for four years at Columbia which now hovers around $10K, and while I don’t regret the choice I made, carrying that burden of debt certainly has created its own set of worries and limitations. And even though student loans are still available for college, in our current recession, it just doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do.

But the reality is (and as the article states), we need more citizens to achieve higher education in order for America to remain competitive in the global market.  Those of us who know how important education is to the future of our country have to arrive at a solution to make higher education accessible and affordable to the untapped talent in the lower class who feel the cost of going to college is just too great. We as a nation will pay the price if we don’t figure out a way to invest in our greatest commodity: people.

If you’re interested in learning more about our documentary film, check out the First Generation website and blog, and I’d love to hear any ideas or thoughts you might have on this issue of college affordability.

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