Students Need Better Financial Advising from Fordham


The cost of education is growing exponentially. So called “free” schools, institutions that give out full-tuition scholarships to all their students, are quickly disappearing. Olin College, back in my hometown of Needham, Mass., recently stopped its history of providing a free education to all its students. Cooper Union in Greenwich Village, too has ceased this tradition with the class of 2016.

Many universities are becoming need-based, cutting the dreams of attending a higher institution short for many of those who aren’t “needy” enough for financial aid, yet not rich enough to carry the brunt of the enormous expenses on their backs. Furthermore, according to Collegeboard, only 0.3 percent of the U.S. college student population is given enough aid to be able to completely afford that giant tuition bill.

My parents didn’t pay a cent when they went to college. Granted, this was in the ’70s and ’80s in the former Soviet Union, but even today, many countries still provide their citizens with a free or affordable, education. When my sister applied to colleges in 2007, her federal loan was fixed at a 3.4 percent interest rate. When I applied just five years later, it was fixed at 6.8 percent and the majority of my chosen schools didn’t give out merit aid. I was extremely lucky in that the school I wanted to go to (Fordham!) helped me out enough that I was able to finance my education. Many aren’t so lucky.

Our school is doing a great job when it comes to helping its students cover the costs of education. According to Forbes magazine, 92 percent of students at Fordham are receiving aid (grants and loans combined) compared to a national average of 65.6 percent in 2007-8 (National Center for Educational Statistics). Even more amazing, is that the average U.S. college student in 2007-8 was receiving $4,900 in grants (NSES) while at Fordham; this number is an impressive $19,513.

However, we could still do more. The average college expenses of a Fordham student are about $55,000 per year, and with aid this can still amount to a huge $35,000.

For the most part, paying for school is an issue largely ignored within the school itself, and it’s time we brought more attention to it. Professor Noam Sphancer focuses on just this in his article in Psychology Today—the fact that there is nobody to look out for our “financial well-being.”

The majority of students, myself included, know very little about how to handle money—especially this much of it—and we need someone who knows what they’re doing to aid us. In addition to academic advisors and personal counselors, we need a “financial counselor;” someone who can help us to monitor our debt and advise us on ways to take care of it. Fordham’s tuition payment plan gives students a nice idea of how to manage their budget however, receiving alerts about our billing status will further ensure that students are actively tracking their debt. Not everyone can graduate from college with a bank account that’s not deep in the negatives, but there sure are things to do to make it easier on us.

Education is at the forefront of many agendas today, with documentaries such as “Waiting for Superman” digging deep into the issues of both public and private schools across the United States. This election is especially important in that education is a main focus—particularly the costs of higher education.

The basics of each party’s platform is this; Obama wants to expand the Pell grant, make the American Opportunity tax credit permanent—or in other words provide $2,500 per student per year for college costs. Obama also stands for providing schools with more federal aid to disperse to students.

Romney believes providing schools with federal aid only balloons the cost of education.  His paper, “A Chance for Every Child,” explains his belief that giving private lenders the task of providing government aid to postsecondary institutions will help to curb the costs of education. He famously said when asked what one could do to make college more affordable, to “just shop around.”

It’s understandable. Romney’s out of touch with the average college student. Coming from money, it’s hard for him to relate to us. I can’t ask my parents for a loan that I won’t pay back, nor would I want to. Obama is by no means middle class either, but he understands that not everybody can spend $50,000+ a year without batting an eye.

I’ve never been extremely interested in politics, but this is the first year that I am eligible to vote, and the issue of the rising costs of education is one that really hits home for me—for all us students really. The effect our debt has on us isn’t just limited to our college years—it can potentially keep us from buying a home and seriously damage our credibility. Maybe it’s not politically correct to talk about who you’re voting for—but I’ll be sending in my absentee ballot for Obama. Sure, I’m a moderate. Maybe it’d be smarter to watch the debates or compare Obama’s and Romney’s views on each issue before making my decision. But when it comes to the difference between graduating with an average of about $24,000 in student loans, or escaping scot-free–it’s a no-brainer for me.