Financial Aid: A Defense of the Ignorant Portrayal of Financial Aid as 'Free Money' of Jacob Kampen's Ideology of Selfishness

12/31/1969 - 19:00

Zach Schultz

Senior, English Education



My wife and I have a 2-year-old daughter, and I have never once taken anything but full responsibility for being a parent and a student. Without the financial assistance provided to me by the state, I would never have been an accomplished student or a productive member of society in a position to help others. I have been and will always remain extremely grateful for, and conscious of, the financial aid that has been available to me during my time here at UWEC.

Without financial aid, college students with below-median EFC figures will rarely if ever become students at any university, and, by necessity, they will require lifelong aid from the state and federal government to make up for the inequitable income they receive from employers throughout their lives.

Whether you are in favor of or in opposition to the proposed Blugold Commitment, an important aspect of that plan is the financial aid surcharge included in the overall cost.

In a recent issue of The Spectator, Jacob Kampen suggested that we “find loans for students who can’t afford the tuition” and require them to pay fully for the increase of the Blugold Commitment. How long would we have these people paying back those loans? Financial aid is in place for those students who do not have the privileges you have been given or the opportunity to offset the cost of repaying loans by the money provided to them by their parents.

However, financial aid while at school will guarantee that individuals with below-median EFC figures who receive, as Mr. Kampen contemptuously puts it, “free money” will be able to give back to the community, to the university, and to the nation of which we are citizens.

Albert Einstein, one of the most prominent socialist thinkers of his day and perhaps of any age, once wrote, “Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being.”

As individuals, we progress by focusing on the self and on our direct relationships with other people. However, in order for our individual identities to have any worth, they must be recognized and affirmed by the society around us. In other words, we find affirmation of our individual expression through the response of the society. Without society, our lives are meaningless and isolated, thus cementing the inextricable bond between self and society.

And as a society, we progress not by stating, “Here is why these people should not be helped” but rather by saying, “I will try to more fully understand the position these people have been put in by this society.” When we disengage from the process of thinking about why people are looking to the government to help them with housing problems or economic concerns, any hope for living for something greater than ourselves has died. Being a questioning student of society rather than an insular sycophant of society does not have to mean that you change political parties or that you must forsake your career in favor of charity work, but being a student of society does mean that you must daily remove yourself from your own position in society to look at the big picture.

In this case, I ask those who question the intentions and the results of financial aid (and the financial aid offset included in the Blugold Commitment plan) to see the impact that financial aid has on the lives of students like myself, who may not be in a privileged position but are determined to use the economic aid available in order to someday become community members who will make this school proud and who can give back to society for all we have been granted. If the student body demands just as much from those students who are below the median EFC as it does from those students who are above, it would be actively discriminating against the poor. This would only cripple students with below-median EFC figures from being able to someday be the active members of society we strive to be.

Asking students of different economic situations to pay as much as students who have the privilege of not being crippled by their bank accounts is irresponsible, uneducated, and unreservedly selfish.

If the Blugold Commitment goes into effect in the future, we must affirm and afford a financial aid surcharge that assists those who do not have the luxury of wealth or even a modest family contribution. We cannot ignore financial differences between us. We cannot allow financial aid to be at the mercy of private scholarships or outrageous loans. Quality of education will suffer if we do not actively pursue viable, enduring sustainable solutions to the broad range of financial difficulties facing many students here at Eau Claire. We can be selfish or we can be educated, but we cannot be both.



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