Saturday, December 15, 2018

New Aid Policy Focuses on Low-Income Students

AMANDA HAUSMANN ’21

NEWS EDITOR

In a recent article published by Inside Higher Ed on Nov. 26, 2018, Trinity College was commended for its decision to institute a four-year policy, requiring low-income students to only apply once for aid from the College, rather than every year. This policy was introduced in December of 2017 and first put into practice with the Class of 2022.

As stated in a press release published on Dec. 7, 2017 by Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Angel Perez and Assistant Vice President and Director of Financial Aid Michael Light, “Any student who is Pell-eligible and whose family has an adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less will be presented with a four-year financial aid package, with first-year financial aid accompanied by estimates for future years. Because Trinity already meets 100% of a student’s demonstrated need, Trinity will maintain its commitment to keep the family’s net price consistent for four years regardless of changes in the availability of federal or state aid.” While this policy now only requires low-income students to apply once for College aid, students will still have to apply annually for federal aid.

The article by Inside Higher Ed highlights Trinity’s new financial aid policy as progressive and inline with the trend in higher education to make college more accessible to low-income students stating, “Many colleges tell students that if their financial aid circumstances don’t change, and they reapply for aid, they will receive similar or identical packages each year. The shift at Trinity is making that a pledge based on a single year’s form.” As pointed out by Inside Higher Ed, this is similar to the Obama administration’s “prior-prior year” student aid reform that allows students to use their family’s income information from the previous year instead of waiting for their taxes from that year to be processed.

Additionally Inside Higher Ed cited Justin Draeger, President and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, who mentioned possible difficulties with a four-year pledge stating, “As long as we live in a world of scarce resources, we’re going to want to continue to target those funds to students who most need them, which will require some sort of income and wealth validation….The ultimate solution is to find a way to have that information shared between government agencies and institutions, without requiring students and families to do much of anything.”

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Angel B. Perez told The Tripod late Monday  night that “The policy says that we want to continue to remove barriers for low-income students.  The administrative minutiae that we make students go through is truly one of the barriers to enrollment and persistence. Our goal is to remove that.”

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