The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Too many students overlooked for financial help

I have always said that almost everything about me is average. I’m Caucasian and female. I am average height and weight. I have brown hair and brown eyes. I earn average grades. But worst of all, I come from a family with an “average” income.

While my “average-ness” may seem like a blessing (at least I’m not below average, right?), in terms of scholastic funding, it is a curse.

Since my parents have two other children besides me, and their own lives for which to provide, they cannot afford to send me through college. Yes, I am blessed incredibly because they help me as much as they can. But that still leaves the bulk of my pockets empty, because there is only so much that I can do for myself.

According to the results of my Free Application for Federal State Aid, I don’t have any financial need. According to my parents and I, there is serious financial need. Who’s right? I would trust the one who is more familiar with my life, and that would be me.

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Does this problem sound familiar to anyone? Probably. Those of you who identify with the widespread, elusive category of “average” students are most likely nodding your head in agreement.

This lack of support for “average” students is a huge problem in our country, particularly in universities, and it has to change. Many of you feel the same cringe of disappointment when you walk out of the financial aid office because they give you the same old news that you don’t qualify for anything except loans.

I am frustrated with the perception that if a student’s parents make enough money to live on, then paying for college is a breeze. The government needs to recognize there is not such a huge line between those they have labeled “in need” and those they have not.

Scholarships also are near impossible for us “common” students. Students with a GPA below 3.5 are not offered anything, nor are students with an ACT score below 25. And don’t forget about financial need. Throw out your application if financial need is a qualifier – that is if you’re an “average” student.

It seems unfair that only students who are naturally brilliant or unfortunately poor can receive a scholarship.

I understand the implications of what I am saying in the sense that those who are less financially fortunate need the opportunity to attend college without going further into scarcity. And I understand that there should be a system to reward those who are exceptional. But considering the loans I will accumulate by the time I finish college, I may end up as the one headed into poverty.

I’m aware that students who have a 3.5 GPA work harder than those with a 3.4 – but maybe not. Those with a 3.4, or lower, may have a harder time getting good grades simply because they are less cognitively capable. And students who scored less than a 25 on their ACT may simply have difficulties with standardized tests.

That certainly does not mean they are not hard-working, exceptional students.

And because my ACT did not exceed 25 does not mean that I am not exceptional. Nor does the fact that my parents can survive on their income mean that I am not in need.

Universities and the government need to thoroughly re-examine their idea of what is exceptional. Average students are exceptional, they should be respectfully accommodated.

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