Ontario High School

Editorial: FAFSA, the cruel joke for the middle class

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides many families with financial aid necessary to make college more affordable. For some however, FAFSA provides very little financial aid and results in many students taking out excessive student loans.

College Board reports that between 2011 and 2016, there has been a 13 percent increase in tuition and fees for public four-year universities, and there has been a 10 percent increase in tuition and fees for four-year private universities. This does not include the cost for on campus housing.

The average cost of attending a public University of California is $34,200, including living on campus a year.

For many middle class students, these numbers are terrifying; their parents have many other obligations such as mortgage, car payments, etc; yet, they make too much to qualify for financial aid but too little to pay for tuition.

FAFSA representatives reassure that “Your eligibility and aid amount depends on your EFC, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at your college or career school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.”

However, the price for college has become a common cause for concern. Middle class students take out loans, despite the government promising a “sufficient” amount of financial aid that will make paying for college easier.

In 2011, College Board disclosed that $5.3 billion in aid was distributed to students whom the government reported did not need aid; an additional $4 billion in federal tuition tax credits went to families with incomes of $100,000 to $180,000.

The average middle class income falls just below this tier, where the Pew Research Center reports the average middle class income is $72,919. The share of financial aid is awarded to middle class students’ affluent counterparts and their lower-income counterparts as well, leaving them neglected and struggling to pay for tuition.

Many middle class students are left with limited options, apply for federal loans issued by the government only, or apply to scholarships whereby they may excluded from some due to family’s reported income.

The middle class is dying in America, and students who are in this category are left to fend for themselves with little help from the government. After years of being told to apply to multiple schools, middle class students realize the harsh reality of the financial aid process.