A few weeks ago, four students form Niagara University traveled to the capitol at Albany, advocating for the continuation of financial aid for independent colleges, specifically representing NU. With the difference in scholarships between public and private schools, it is important to pay close attention to financial aid packages. Personally, my college choice was heavily impacted and guided by the financial aid I received from each school. If your dream school is unaffordable, than you might have to let it go and unfortunately settle for something more affordable. When it comes down to it, many students have to choose based upon the cost of each school.
It is obvious that public and private schools are not necessarily on the equal ground when it comes to aid. Public schools offer certain state scholarships such as the excelsior scholarship in New York State, whereas private schools often have access to privately funded scholarships. However, I would argue that when it comes to state aid, the playing ground should be equal for students who live in state and attend schools there in order to not only benefit students, but the state by having more adults college-educated who are better able to earn well in the state. I believe this can be accomplished by offering the same state scholarships to both public and private students in the state.
Both of my older sisters attended school at University at Albany which is local to where I live. And although we have the same financial background, we don’t receive the same aid. My sister who is now a senior in college is eligible for the excelsior scholarship for free tuition, yet I, who attend a private university can not get those same benefits. It is important to note that this scholarship is complex, and has its own pros and cons, so it might not be for everyone. Although you may get free tuition, you are required to live in NYS for five years after your completion of schooling.
I wouldn’t find this to be a big a problem for me or many other students as it would hard to be financially stable enough to move far away so quickly anyway, and some just wish to stay local. Nonetheless, the point isn’t whether each student should take advantage of these scholarships, but that they should be offered the same opportunities and have more options in general when it comes to choosing a college because of the financial choices and benefits. This would benefit students and the state with more college educated adults. It’s important to stay aware of what is going on with financial aid in both public and private schools because it directly affects students and it can directly affect you.