Financial Aid to Students Slashed

on March 20, 2012

If you wanted to go to college but did not have a high school diploma or GED a couple of routes were open for you to still qualify for financial aid and get a college degree. You would either take a ‘basic skills test’ or successfully complete your first six credits. The people who benefited from these rules were older people wanting to retrain, immigrants and people from states where adult education is expensive. High school dropouts who want to return to education also benefited.

This year’s federal budget has dismantled both systems. Now, if you do not have a high school diploma or GED, you will have to take a risky private loan to fund your education. The changes are likely to hit community colleges as they tend to accept more students who have passed an ‘ability to benefit’ exam than any one else. College administrators have expressed concern that this will lead many would-be students to abandon all hope of getting a college education.

‘This change is just very difficult to swallow,’ said David Baime, vice president for government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges. ‘It runs counter to the missions of many of our colleges’.

Evidence as to how these students perform at college is sketchy. Some studies have found that students who attend college on the condition they pass their first six credits eventually go on to be more successful then those who come in at GED standard. A longitudinal study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 67% of ‘ability to benefit’ students failed to complete their courses. But then again, 66% of GED students also failed to complete their courses.

Obama has pledged $8billion to help low-wage workers get a college education. But critics question whether these workers would be able to benefit at all if they first have to pass a GED course using their own limited means. Furthermore, a GED or High School Diploma are quite useless for a middle-aged, low-wage worker. Many complain that it is just an expensive exercise in hoop-jumping. Whether or not GED classes will be available at all is another issue critics raise. In many states, budget tightening has led State Officials to cancel GED classes altogether and spend the money on cash-strapped high and elementary schools. Moral questions have also been raised at the state of a society where the intelligent working-class have their ambitions thwarted by poor governmental decisions.


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